Parkhal Kanda with Siddhicharan Shrestha
Once, a fellow inmate named Gopi Chayamaya agreed to help Singh escape. Gopicha, who would clean the toilets, knew the jail’s architectural plan. Interestingly, Gopicha was a Brahmin who had married a Newar girl – a criminal offence. He was sentenced and his caste was degraded (to a toilet cleaner).
Gopi’s plan was to break the wall from inside, and while he did succeed in burrowing a hole, authorities were alerted on the scheduled day of escape, therefore foiling their attempt.
Ganesh Man often wondered why Gopicha tried to help him – the only reason Singh could fathom was ‘may be Gopicha believed overthrowing the Ranas was the only way to overcome caste discrimination in Nepal.’
Singh and others accused of sedition were kept inside Golghar – a jail within Bhadragol. Golghar was surrounded by a 6 feet wall. Beyond the inner fence, at a distance of 16 feet, was another higher fence measuring 22 feet in height.
Singh realized the only way to escape was by jumping the fence. He would therefore climb the six feet wall, and then try to fling an anchor attached to a rope (made of cloth) at the 22 feet wall.
Meanwhile, the jail administration tried to increase the height of the inner wall to 12 feet. For Singh, the news meant trouble. Singh therefore, along with support from other inmates petitioned the Rana government not to increase the height – they claimed that the increased height would block sunlight and airflow, therefore affecting inmates’ health.
All inmates demanded that construction of the new wall should be stopped within 7 days, if not they would go on a hunger strike. A response wasn’t met until the 6th day.
On the final night, Siddhicharan and Ganesh Man (cellmates) were restless. Singh could hear furious strokes of chalk on a board. In the middle of the night, Shrestha woke up Singh,
Shrestha: Ganesh Man Bhai, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Therefore, on this night I have written a poem, and dedicate it to you. Should I read it?
Singh: Siddhicharan Dai, I will be honoured to hear it.
Shrestha read out the Parkhal Kanda (Wall Episode), a poem which stirred Singh’s soul.
Making the break:
On the 7th day, Juddha Shamsher’s decision was heard – the wall’s height would be increased to 12 feet. However, keeping in mind their demands, the inner wall would be built further away.
The decision came as a blessing for Singh – his task of flinging the anchor to the outer wall was made easier. Singh had gained 6 feet height to throw the anchor, and the distance between the two walls were also reduced.
Choosing an Aunsi (New Moon) night, Singh decided to execute his plan. Chandraman compounder and Purna Bahadur M.A. agreed to help.
Reaching the inner wall, Purna Bahadur asked Singh to climb on his shoulders. Singh climbed the wall with ease. After reaching atop, Singh flung the anchor onto the outer wall – it took three attempts for the anchor to lock.
Ganesh Man was ecstatic – however the task was still incomplete.
Reaching the second wall, Singh climbed the rope cloth. He climbed the 22 feet wall in a single breath. Singh pulled up the rope and flung it onto the other side. He was slightly worried after he was unable to find the ground when the rope’s length finished – however he took a leap of faith.
‘Thud’, he landed on the ground.
Singh was free – after dozens of attempts and four years of jail time.
Composing himself, he continued along the darkness of the night. He first reached Tundikhel and stopped to open his fetters.
“I felt like walking on the moon where there is less gravity”, Singh would later tell Mathbar Singh.
Singh was supposed to head towards Bhaktapur, but whichever route he tried to take, dogs would obstruct his path. Therefore, he had to take a longer route– from Tundikhel, he walked straight to Bishnumati and reached Shovabhagwati. From Shovabhagwati, he was supposed to head towards Baneshwor, however he had to evade two guards. He therefore returned to Indra Chowk. En route Indra Chowk, he passed by his home in Yetkha, wondering if anyone was awake at the time. Singh later learns Mangaladevi had looked for Singh the same night.
Dawn would break soon, and Ganesh Man needed shelter – quickly. He therefore went to Kilagal via Itumbahal; to seek help from Purna Bahadur’s father.
Purna Bahadur’s father suggested Ganesh Man Singh seek help from Surya Bahadur Bhardwaj. Thus he proceeded to Surya Bahadur’s home in Nardevi.
For Surya Bahadur Bhardwaj, Ganesh Man’s arrival was shocking – he quickly pulled him inside from the door. He had to make swift decisions – difficult decisions.
Surya Bahadur locked Singh in a room, and went out to get some help. Different thoughts came across Singh’s mind as he waited for – how was he to escape to India? What if Surya Bahadur informed the authorities?
Outside dawn was breaking and Singh could see the first rays of the sun entering through the latticed windows. Soon enough someone entered the home – it was Shamburam. After a few minutes, Surya Bahadur too arrived – they informed Singh that they would keep him in Shamburam’s tenant’s home in Bhimdhunga.
Singh changed into a tattered Daura Suruwal, and the trio headed towards Bhimdhunga. After reaching Bhimdhunga, just before the hill leading to Shamburam’s tenant’s home, Surya Bahadur took leave to make other arrangements for Singh’s escape.
Shamburam too left after dropping off Singh at his designated shelter.
From the hills, Singh finally got an opportunity to take in a breath of fresh air – he stared at Kathmandu valley as the sun set far in the west. Singh awaited the arrival of Surya Bahadur, however, he did not come until 10 p.m.
A worried Singh decided to leave instantly, however Singh’s host was insistent that he stay the night.
“The jungle is dense, and the night is dark. You might lose your way, or fall prey to wild animals. How can I let you go?” said the host.
Therefore, it was agreed that Singh would leave early in the morning. The host, his wife and Singh enjoyed a hearty meal, and Singh rested – his first sleep in 2 days.