A preview of There’s a carnival today originally written by IndraBahadurRai in Nepali and translated into English by ManjushreeThapa (Published by Speaking Tiger, 2017)
The old couple could never forget their own wedding. They’d had an arranged marriage on the sixteenth day of the month of Falgun exactly thirty-one years ago today, with a nine-piece musical band in the wedding procession. Kaase Darzis had blown narsingh trumpets from a platform on the roof, sounding out the auspicious news of the wedding. Lamba Lama, Hukumdas Sardar and Doctor Yuddhabir Rai (the poor men had all since passed away) had danced all night to the sweet melody of the shehnai. Kaji Saheb had taken a photograph when Bagam Kanchha, who was home on holiday from the army, had dressed up as a maruni in women’s clothes and danced, spinning a plate in each hand. They’d had to set another pot of rice on the boil after eighty kilograms proved insufficient to feed the wedding procession. Nowhere in today’s Darjeeling would you see members of a wedding procession sitting in rows to eat in the courtyard while being attacked from all sides by chickens, which, when shooed away, raised clouds of dust with their wings.
A preview of Long Night of Storm – a collection of stories originally written by Indra Bahadur Rai in Nepali and translated into English by Prawin Adhikari (Published by Speaking Tiger, 2018)
Morning came early in the jungle. Bullocks were put to the yoke again. The departure was full of more bustle than the grim march the day before. Duets were being sung since the morning. Jayamaya had joined that crowd. Wilful young boys wanted to shoot down any bird that settled on the crowns or branches of trees. If they hit a mark, they would stop their carts to go into the jungle to search for it. Nobody had any fear. Everybody was laughing. It seemed the journey of a merry migration—it seemed as if they were travelling from Burma into India for a picnic. ‘Is your name Jayamaya?’ A beautiful, thin boy who had had to abandon his studies to be on the road, and who had been blessed with his mother’s tender face, asked Jayamaya. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘My name is Jaya Bahadur,’ he said.
In 1992, Nepali was recognised as the 19th official Indian language and included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. It has been recognised as one of the modern languages of India by the Sahitya Akademi, or Academy of Letters, of the Indian government since 1975; and the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award has been bestowed on the best literary works of Indian Nepali writers along with other Indian languages every year.
The process for picking the best literary work is well laid down. First, a comprehensive ground list of published works is prepared. Next, five to eight books are identified as potential competitors. Finally, three jury members sit, deliberate and decide the best work. Among the nine books that competed for the award in 2015, Gita Upadhyay’s Janmabhumi Mero Swadesh; Gupta Pradhan’s Samaika Prativimbaharu; Kalusingh Ranapaheli’s Prashna Chinha; Sudha M Rai’s Bhumigeet; Rajendra Bhandari’s Shabdaharuko Punarbas and Basant Kumar Rai’s Kehi Kathaharu are worthy of mention.
Indianness of Indian Gorkhas
The entire plot of Gita Upadhyay’s novel is woven around the mobilisation of village folks in and around Tezpur, Assam against the highhandedness of the British Indian government and their joining the freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi. Villagers living in the vicinity of Kaziranga forest are thrown out and their homes burnt as the area was declared a reserved forest. An Indian Gorkha named Chabilal Upadhyay leads the protests. The British tried to divide communities and geographies at the lowest possible level. Read more
Nepali poets and critics on Saturday held a comprehensive discussion on presence of native identities, cultures and traditions in Nepali poetry.
Most speakers of the IACER Poetry Fiesta, organised by IACER, a Pokhara University-affiliated college, in the Capital, opined that Nepali poetry needs to use and promote native knowledge and traditions in order to lead it to the global literary arena.
Critic and poet Mahesh Paudyal presented a paper arguing that Nepali literature cannot live long with used images from the West. “Our poetry henceforth should turn toward ourselves and articulate the long-lived knowledge to the world,” he said.