Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Royals Around Town

It's been seven years since Nepal's royal family was massacred by its crown prince. Dipendra, who was an alcoholic and a gun enthusiast, walked into a family dinner at the royal palace one Friday, mowed down ten of his relatives with an M16, including his mother and father, then killed himself. At the end of it he'd committed fratricide, matricide patricide, sorocide, regicide, avunculicide, and suicide. The most disturbing part of all was that when he was finished he put down the gun and ordered a cide of fries. OK, OK, no he didn't.

After the massacre Nepal got a new king, Gyanendra. The Maoist insurgency escalated, and eventually a democracy movement took hold. Just this past year the monarchy was abolished and the country had it's first ever real nation-wide elections. So a lot's changed since the royal massacre.

And yet, walking around the city images of the royal family members involved in the event are still everywhere to be found. Stilted family photographs of Dipendra and his two parents hang in hotel lobbies, homes, shops, and restaurants. The above painting of King Birendra was done on the back wall of a sign making shop.

These images, when you come upon them, have an unnerving and spooky quality, as though this gruesome and traumatic event never took place. They're not accompanied by an explanatory note saying "In Memory of King Birendra," or a gauzy effect indicating he's in heaven now. Just a faded image of a royal from a time before the prince murdered the family.

Yesterday I wandered into Nepal's Olympic Museum ( a one room shrine to the country's history in international sports) and found, on display, some of the family's event credentials, including Dipendra's. Who apparently was an avid Karate practitioner.


Willing said...

Definitely thought you'd use "Ben" for the gauzy effect.

Matt said...

thought about it, but it wasn't that gauzy.