From own turf - 10
Many stories to share with
Connecting the Authors
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
The Book Launch Nepal for our book The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim gave us also the opportunity to connect with the authors as they too were present in the function to support and in solidarity with our efforts. We had opted for the Asha Safu Kuthi courtyard behind the Chwasapasa near Kulanbhulu/Raktakali as the venue in lieu of any of the spacious banquet halls or party palaces or even the convention hall of some star hotels as we felt quite homely with the place and familiar with it right since its earlier days. We knew it to be the property once belonged to the family of Purna Das Shrestha, master story-teller known for his works like Dhanko Bala. It was some twenty years ago in 1995 that we had climbed up its narrow stairs to meet Raja Shakya, well-acclaimed author honoured for his works in Newar/Nepal Bhasha. It has, thereafter, been a place of pilgrimage to drop in even for a while whenever in Nepal. He helped us editing Newa: Varna, Lipi ra Bhasha Parichaya that celebrates its 20 years this year. We had also found about two decades later in 2013 Raja Shakya the right person who deserved to be decorated with the second Jai Smarak Samman. It was no wonder that our book opened with the article dedicated to the Asha Safu Kuthi for yeomen task Raja Shakya had been doing there most of his life. The mantle has now fallen on another dedicated person Sharad Kasa:, who is himself an author of his own standing. He is a face familiar to many of the Newars in Sikkim who are concerned or aware with the works done since the recognition of the Newar language as one of the official languages at par with Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali, English and several other languages spoken in the Himalayan State. Sharad first came to Sikkim as one of the members in the cultural troupe of the Nepal Bhasha Manka: Khala: They were here in the capital to participate in the year-long celebrations to commemorate 50 Years of India’s Independence on the invitation of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Heritage in December 1997. Our Book Launch Nepal there also took care to honour the Newah Icon Nepal Padma Ratna Tuladhar and Naresh Bir Shakya for visiting Sikkim first then leading the troupe as the chief and general secretary of the Nepal Bhasha Manka: Khala: respectively. Sharad was felicitated and thanked this time for the support he has been rendering us so far as recent as 2014 to come with the group of intellectuals from the Tribhuvan University to participate in the seminar organized by the Sikkim Newar Guthi at Gangtok. He had then brought me a bouquet of his latest stories Ilan Iya Bakhan dedicated to Raja Shakya. To share the dais was another dignitary Prof. Hiranya Lal Shrestha to be also honoured on the occasion.
We were with Prof. Narmadeshwar Pradhan at his Pulchowk residence and while taking a picture together to capture and cherish the memory for the days to come, Laxman Rajbanshi put before us a three-pronged quizzer when taking a photo shot why do we all always have to a. get stiff thus unnatural in our behaviour b. get self-conscious and c. always put a smile on our face. Yes, we do, indeed! A bit hard of hearing like many of us in our advancing age, Ranjana recollects an anecdote he shared with us once earlier when he graced the function as the chief guest for handing over the Jai Smarak Samman to Raja Shakya. It was once some ladies were speaking to his wife for quite a long time that he could not enjoy due to his very differently abled ears. He then asked her later what did you talk all about, she replied just in a few words. This made him quite perplexed – so little out of so much they together had so long! While my Muma too enjoyed reading many of his books he gave us, the Newars in Sikkim must be remembering him for the wonderful speech he gave on the rich Newar culture and heritage to share with while he was here to celebrate Indrajatra 2011 Gangtok. He has a beautiful account about the sad last days of the Lok Nayak Vir Ganesh Man Singh in one of his books but best we have is the Newa: Sanskritik Mhasika/Newar Sanskritik Chinari - diglot book introducing the Newar culture brought out by Dr. Sarvottam Shrestha for the Nagarjun Publication Pvt. Ltd.. He is a master story-teller and the Founder-Principal of the Siddharth Vanasthali Institute.
Prof. Narmadeshwar Pradhan is a prolific writer and contributes regularly to the Sandhya Times, the most popular daily originally an eveninger edited by Suresh Manandhar and to Naresh Bir Shakya’s fortnightly Layakoo, that carry a Nepali/Khye Bhasha column alongside besides the Newar/Nepal Bhasha original. A recent issue shared with this author by Naresh Bir shows Pradhan’s critical article on The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler apart from the report on the Book Launch Nepal and Book Launch International in the US. It would not be possible to write about the article here (though on women rights - Celebration the Vagina) but would be unfair of me if I do not share with my readers the opening poems from two books /collections of his popular prose poems Pradhan gave me Jimigu bhutu khwaunse khwaunse tini / Our hearth is cold, so cold and Pratyek modya ant chhangu nan ant makhu / Every end of the bend is not your end too. I have attempted to translate them from the Newar/Nepal Bhasha alongside. Otherwise, Pradhan himself is a retired English Professor:
Jimigu bhutu khwaunse khwaunse tini Our hearth is cold, so cold
Emigu In their
Aaglagiya bhayan afraid of catching fire
Emisan thaun today they
Miya pusa he madayek haven’t kept ember as its seed
Syayet swaichwangu du … looking forward to die it out …
Jimigu Bhutu Our hearth
Khwaunse khwaunse tini is just cold and cold
Chwapu then … like ice …
Miya pusa he By not
Madayek keeping ember
Kaash! as the seed!
Jimigu bhutu Our hearth
Jimisan how can
Gye chyake phai?! we fire it?!
Gye kwake dai?! How can we heat it?!
Ghumti va Modan jaagu Mahayatraye In Journey full of bends and turns
Pratyek modya ant chhangu nan every end of the bend is not
ant makhu your end as well
Thwa ghumti This bend
Pratyek Mod Every bend of
Chhangu yatraya your journey is
Ant makhu …. Not the end ….
Va la That is
Shuruwat jui chhangu beginning of your
Haan chhagu again a
Megu yatraya …. Different journey….
Thwa ghumti va modan jaagu full of bends and turns
Pratyek modya Every turn that
Chhangu nan ant makhu …. Is not your end too ….
Than pratyek modya Here every bend
Shuruwatya that begins
Ant dusa to end
Pratyek antye Every end
Shuruwat nan du …. Has a beginning too ….
Shuruwat!!! A beginning!!!
Shashikala Manandhar, the first Nepal Bhasha female novelist (Nepali version Batoma Bheteko Manchhe – Sajha Prakashan) had come with a copy of her tenth published work and seventh novel Sankalp brought out by Newa: American Dabu Chicago last year, while the editor/publisher Thaukahne (in 65th Year of Publication) Rukmini Shrestha, also a regular columinist in the Layakoo, had a copy of very useful compilation Nasa Twansa Wasa: Nan Kha: / Khanpin Aushadhi Pani Ho (diglot edition) for us. Rabison Shakya had come with some informative works done by Ras Joshi brought out by Thyaka Research Centre, Patan to be useful addition to our Jai Smriti Shodh Granthalaya. Chaya Thalabala / Pottery is with description of different terracotta products in Nepal Bhasha and English. Described under various categories, like Utensils used for water, milk or curds, liquors, food items and for preparing food items besides those used in religious and cultural ceremony as well as funeral ceremony. It also describes about charcoal heaters and oil lamps apart from many others to include Khutruke / Piggy Bank, Gamla / flower pot, Dhwan /kitchen sink, Pata to be used with Hukha, Bhutu or stove and Hukha. Lalitpur Rajdurbar is their another publication in Nepali also by Ras Joshi about the ancient palace city and its heritage temples. Swaniga:ya Sanskriti in Nepal Bhasha is again by Ras Joshi about the cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley. Thyaka Research Centre had yet another reference work published The Ideology of Confucius in Analects by Chen Chaoxian that Rabison thought useful for us too.
Our Key-note Speaker for the Book Launch Nepal, Prof. Hiranya Lal Shrestha, foreign-relations expert, two times MP and former Nepal Ambassador to Russia, had given us his seminal work Sixty Years of Dynamic Partnership published by Nepal-China Society when we had visited him at his residence the previous day. Another book he gave us was Parakhika Aankhama Hiranyalal Shresthaka Pustakharu / Spectrum of Hiranya Lal Shrestha’s Books: viewed by Experts. We could know from this book that he had so far written 19 books in Nepali, five in Nepal Bhasha and six in English mostly on foreign relations like Nepal and Her Neighbours and those with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan, Malaysia and Canada. He had visited Bhutan and Sikkim in early 1970s.
A work that I was quite interested to know was being done by Devdass Manandhar about the directory of the Manandhar community for quite some time. Besides this, I also wanted to update the Thahiti, software to write mechanically Ranjana Lipi and Nepal Lipi by typing in Roman script. When we met at the Book Launch Nepal I mentioned about the difficulty faced with the software given last time that needed update perhaps, he asked me to drop in his place for the needful done. On reaching there I found him with Mangal Krishna Manandhar working on documents in five hardbound volumes with records received from various bodies under the Kendriya Manandhar Sangh / Central Manandhar Asoociation of Nepal. When I met Devdass some years back he was working on a Directory for the Manandhar running into some thirty thousand. I was, therefore, surprised to find a sleek handbook, Manandhar Duja Bahi, in its place that covered some 1900 households/families. They had brought out with almost all of them pooling in funds in this project where enlistment was done guthi-wise – each guthi included the list of heads of the family. There was a write-up from each guthi introducing themselves and their activities. Devdass had assured help also to the Newars in Sikkim, if they approached him with the details for compiling such a Directory. This is a subject often discussed in the Sikkim Newar Guthi fora and much awaited since its early days but yet to come out with such a data compiled. His other outstanding work was Unicode for Nepal Lipi that awaits final nod from the authority. He was in the US for this in 2014 and had interacted with the Newah Organization of America as well. Devotion and dedication to his pet project could be known that day - it was around noon when he was reminded over phone but after some time his wife herself was at the door to get Devdass have his bath and meal too.
Besides these books I had the opportunity to get current issues of the Madhupark and Sharada. The later reappeared after years it had ceased publishing following the demise of its founder/editor Riddhi Bahadur Malla and his son/present publisher Shant Bahadur Malla had visited us some years ago to give the good news but could see it this time only. I could enjoy reading a story Samajko Anchalma by Purna Das re-produced under original historic pages of Sharada circa Jeth 1995BS. It is known for its pioneering service to the Nepali society as I was reading online mentioned also in the recent interview of Modnath Prashit, who had attended our function held in 2005 in honour of Durga Prasad Shrestha, editor-publisher of the Uday literary magazine published since 1937, the First recepient of the Jai Smarak Samman to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Rachna Books held in Kathmandu. Durga Prasad was one of the guests, who attended the Hari Prasad Gorkha Rai Centenary held in Guwahati last week and it was Kedar Gurung from Sikkim to be so there. It was one of the issues of Sharada at home that inspired me like many writers of repute before to write for the first time when a student in class nine for the Tashi Namgyal Academy Annual 1960.
Back home, it was Talk Sikkim to cover and mention the Book Preview held at the Rachna Books for The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim under their Newsmakers page captioned All about the Newars. There in the function Prof. (Dr.) Diwakar Pradhan from the Banaras Hindu University reviewing the book found it to be classified as the Top Three Books along with Dr. Paras Mani Pradhanko Jiwan Yatra and our earlier publication Dhumil Prishthaharu as mine of information on the life and people in this part of the Himalayas. I thanked him sharing the line by Ralph Waldo Emerson ‘T’s the good reader that make the good book,’ indeed!
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim is available at the Rachna Books.