Date of publication: 1st September 2013
Name of Newspaper: Kantipur Daily ( Nepali)
Marika with Milan
Bhaktapur- Milan lives in one of the old houses in narrowed Dathu lane in Thimi. For last 21 years, Milan's life is confined to one room of his house. His mother cares for him with love. Sisters come and help to move his fingers with affection. However, Milan feels like a prisoner, he cannot walk or move like other people. There is one small window in his room. One can see little children playing nearby the old well. They are seen laughing while climbing and shaking the branches of the tree. Milan's family realized that he was not normal when as a baby he did not crawl like other children. They still do not know the name of the disease he is suffering from.
American visual artist and Fulbright Specialist Denise Marika is associated with Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuvan University. She is in Nepal to make documentary which she hopes will generate discussion and advocacy surrounding the rights of people with disability like Milan. Denied Part Two: A Life Confined, explores the life of Milan, his emotions and relationship with his family. Recently, the documentary was screened in three different locations: Fulbright office, National Federation of Disabled Nepal and Central Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Tribhuvan University.
The 27 minute long documentary moves along the narrowed lanes of Milan's confined life. Through his own voice and narratives of his mother and sisters: Shristi and Kristi, Marika tells the compelling story of Milan. When asked whether he believes in god, Milan responds, "If there is God in this world, if he exists, why am I and others suffering so much?"
The documentary shows that Milan is a kind of person who cares more about others than himself. Despite being confined in bed, he reminds his mother to take her medicine in time for her diabetes. He plans a surprise gift with his sisters for mother's birthday. He suggests his mother offer delicious snacks for guests who come for a visit.
Marika, MFA from University of California feels that she found images of the Dalai Lama in Milan's face and thoughts. "He is free from greed and attachment, his heart is full of sacrifice and care for others", she said.
People with disability suffer violence and neglect most from their family members everywhere in the world. Milan's family is not only the exception but a model for everyone to follow. Indeed, the documentary clearly shows the incredible love of family member towards Milan, the youngest member of the family born after two sisters. Writer Manisha Gauchan, assistant of Marika said that both Milan's sisters were inspired to study nursing with the hope that they would be able to do something for him and others. "This documentary will be useful to raise awareness about how family members should care and love people with disability", she said.
Marika has similar plans. She is soon putting up this documentary on her website which can be seen and downloaded for free. Except for commercial purposes, she is willing to provide the documentary for free for any organization who is working for raising awareness on the rights of people with disability. Fulbright Specialist Marika also expressed her wish for making a third chapter of Denied which will uncover the obstacles, government and policies that impact people with disability in Nepal. Earlier she made Denied: The Dignity of Three Women, which explored the stories of 3 women with disability. Marika believes that the attitude and perspective of policy makers needs to change to ensure a disability friendly environment. "I will always be in support of people like Milan. They deserve to lead a dignified life, just like anyone else” , she said.
Translation byNeeti Aryal Khanal