After the new year, Gyan is buying rice in the market when he hears people shouting. When he exits the shop, he is pulled into a procession of young men holding their kukris and shouting “Jai Gorkha” and “Victory to the Gorkha Liberation Army.” Around him, he sees old college friends that he has lately ignored because of his romance with Sai.
Aside from the opening episode, this exchange marks the first time we see the GNLF movement in action as they work to create a political home for themselves. Of course, with the appearance of their kukris (knives), it is also the first time that the movement begins to turn violent. The passivity of people in the privileged classes has led to the necessity of a more violent revolution.
Gyan has a feeling of history being wrought and views the scene as if it were a documentary. He feels the desire to leave with Sai and go somewhere far away and free from history and debt. He feels cynical—like his frustration is being taken advantage of by the movement. But he looks around and see that the other men do not share his cynicism. Gyan remembers the stories of Indian liberation, and how the citizens had risen up by the millions.
Gyan’s initial hope to escape this political revolution (led by his own people) is more idealistic than realistic. As Biju’s journey demonstrates, not only is it difficult to escape the stereotypes of one’s heritage, but it is also difficult to establish a sense of belonging without others who share one’s cultural values.
Gyan watches as a man climbs up on a bench and begins delivering a rousing speech. The man says that in 1947, the British granted India freedom and gave Pakistan to the Muslims, but forgot the Nepalis of India. Since then they have been treated like servants, even though they fought on behalf of the British for two hundred years.
The Nepalis demand a political home for themselves, but they also make it clear that the current dynamics are an extension of the mess that colonialism made of the map around Kalimpong and Darjeeling.
The man asks if they are given compensation; if any tea gardens in the district are Nepali-owned (though they make up eighty percent of the population); if children learn Nepali in schools; if they can compete for jobs. The procession responds to each question: “No.” Gyan himself remembers his last job interview—over a year ago in Calcutta, which had been conducted in complete darkness because there was no electricity. Gyan watches as the men cut their fingers with their kukris to write a poster for Gorkhaland with their blood.
Each of the questions that the man asks of the crowd key into some of their most pressing concerns. For Nepalis to have the ability for social mobility through wealth, for their language to be valued by being taught in schools, to not be discriminated against based solely on their ethnicity and class. The use of the kukris to write a poster in blood also demonstrates their willingness to escalate the situation to violence, but also their willingness to make sacrifices for their political cause.
Later, Gyan, his friends, and many others sit drinking and discussing what to do. Gyan feels comfortable in the “masculine atmosphere” and tells the story of his family. His friends question whether he thinks that they got the same pension as the English. Everyone else’s anger joins his, and he suddenly realizes why he has no money and no job. At the same time, Gyan feels ashamed of the tea parties he has had with Sai, complete with cheese toast and queen cakes. Gyan then voices an opinion that the Gorkha movement should take the harshest route possible.
As Gyan sits drinking with his friends, the environment becomes a perfect storm for his political awakening. He is angry at the way colonialism devalued Nepalis, even more than Indians. He is spurred by an atmosphere of men channeling his anger, setting it apart from Sai’s complacency. Lastly, being a part of the movement gives him a sense of belonging, and a way in which he can improve his own personal situation.