Parasmani Smriti Puraskar Awardee
Durga Prasad Shrestha
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Once upon a time his and my family used to be the next door neighbours close to each other at Chaukhambha Varanasi till early 1950s when I was moved to Gangtok for my studies and soon my parents followed to Rhenock from Kalimpong with Indo-Tibet trade that came to an abrupt end and to our family trade as well. One Sunday noon there I saw Durgadai dissecting a frog at his home and learnt he was keen pursuing to become a doctor. I too got interested to be a doctor, which inspite of a Government of India scholarship in 1963 it could not materialize as a medical seat for me could not be provided by the Department thus spoiling a valuable year. This made me re-join Darjeeling Government College for my B.Sc. Honours and M.Sc. in Zoology with Dr. Bishwapati Dasgupta as the Head of the Department and later Principal there. He had already four PhDs in 1967-68 and we were inspired to pursue our studies towards a PhD through dissecting toads, earthworms, rats, guinea-pigs, pigeons, mosquitoes, gnats and silverfishes besides burrowing through latest research papers and scientific journals. He even recommended and certified me being good for teaching job as a profession. Years after we were in the Government jobs, another teacher Dr. Mohitosh Banerjee came visiting us in Gangtok and encouraged to pursue a PhD for ourselves inspite of being absorbed in our respective field. Neither I nor Tanka Ram Sharma could fulfill the dream but Dr. Surendra Kumar Pradhan, a year junior to me in M.Sc. who joined Sikkim Government College achieved this feat to become the Principal and retire from there. Dr. Diwakar Pradhan who heads Nepali Department in the Banaras Hindu University had mentioned me once how profusely we get such Doctorates aplenty each year these days compared to a very few to accomplish and achieve the rare feat that is now 50 years ago! Only solace for me was that I could acknowledge Dr. Dasgupta for my first ever book Saral Jiwa Vigyan, a high school level biology textbook for Rashtriya Prakashan of Birgunj, Nepal with Nepali terminologies for scientific terms soon after my BSc (Hons.) in 1967.
After serving the Information Ministry in His Majesty’s Government of Nepal for a decade and with an award for the Best Dialogue-writer for the epic movie Ama bagged, Durgadai thought it better to follow and pursue what his heart wished and serve for the cause of literature – Nepali and Hindi too to fetch him awards from the UP Government for his stories in Sattare Mausi in 1974 and Bhanu Puraskar from Nepali Parishad, Dehradun well back in 1992. Not satisfied with such recognitions, he thought it better to carry forward the torch that his late father Kashi Bahadur Shrestha had started as the Founder/Editor to spread the light of Nepali language and literature through the literary magazine Uday in 1937 two years before Durgadai was born. His advancing age with failing eyes come on his way but dedicated he is so much that nothing can stop him for giving his best, the best yet to come.
Jai Smarak Samman
Recognizing his immense potentials Durgadai was brought in the advisory body and this association with the Sahitya Akademi infused fresh blood in his endeavor for the benefit of readers. Knowing his life-long contributions to the language, literature and the society, he was our natural choice as the most deserving and dedicated person to be honoured with the first Jai Smarak Samman instituted and awarded in memory of our late father/founder of Rachna Books when celebrating its Silver Jubilee in 2005. He could not be here in the function held at the Nepali Sahitya Parishad Bhavan with well-known litterateur Mahanand Poudyal and for the better. Very soon we had the opportunity to hand over the award in a function held in Kathmandu, where I had some family obligation to attend and learnt Durgadai to be there too. Grand old lady and a literary figure Angoor Baba Joshi was the chief guest in this function chaired by the veteran litterateur Balkrishna Parajuly (who had edited Kashi Bahadur Smriti Granth 1996) that Ramesh Khakurel managed efficiently with his witty remarks to entertain the audience that itself comprised of literary celebrities like Modnath ‘Prashrit’, Ratna Shamsher Thapa, Nagendra Prasad Sharma, Tulasi Bhattarai, Mahesh Banskota, Pushkar Lohani, Ashok Banskota, Dibya Giri, Govind Prasad Shrestha, Anand Prakash Nepal, Shailendra Prakash Nepal, Dhruva Madhikarmi, Abhishek Shrestha besides a host of enthusiastic youth that brings to mind instantly the names of the literary-photographer Kumar Ale and the Newatech Subhash Prajapati now in Seattle USA, the founder of www.nepalmandal.com who authored many books on the rich Newar culture and tradition beforehand. Parajuly was kind enough to donate and oblige us with some of his best works like Nepali Lokgeetko Alok and Samjhnako Kshitijma for our newly launched Jai Smriti Shodh Granthalaya. It was quite amusing to learn from the guests there in a lighter friendly teatime that such awards were sponsored by the person honoured with the award money coming back to him. Another one quipped that we run after the award to grab one but here the award itself is running after the author to honour him! This we took as compliment as the function was a grand success to gauge the depth and height of Durgadai’s popularity away from his homeland.