-Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Prajwal Parajuly is a writer in residence at The Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies. He is 29 years and the author of widely acclaimed collection of short stories, The Gurkha’s Daughter (2012). Parajuly, the son of an Indian father and Nepalese mother, divides his time between Oxford and New York but disappears to Gangtok, his home town in the Himalayas, at every opportunity. This time around it was his first novel Land Where I Flee that brought him to his favourite place Rachna Books for the launch on 21 and 22nd December that stretched to another two days that kept him busy in book-reading and book-signing sessions. His new novel is dedicated thus “For Gangtok and Kalimpong and for Adik Vyas Sharma, who, at 1.5 years, laughs when I read out the most serious parts of this book to him.”
Previous morning I had asked my son Raman would it not be a good idea to have the book launched at Kalimpong as well since the books is dedicated to and is written in the backdrop of Kalimpong. He told me that this has been taken care of and things are ready for the programme scheduled for 27th December. Later I find the announcement on the Facebook. It was on the initiative of Bharat Mani Pradhan for the Rotary Kalimpong Library in association with Rachna Books that the function was held at picturesque The Lounge Silver Oaks. Prajwal was in Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and Chennai before reaching here at Rachna Books for the launch and in next few days he would be covering Kolkata, Chennai again, Bangalore, Pune and finally again in Mumbai on his way back. He took time out to be with us amidst his busy engagements and this is about the nice meeting we had with him to share with my readers.
I was posting on the Facebook page Newars in Sikkim a photo-report ‘Showcasing Sikkim’s rich culture’ with a Sikkimese Girl dancing in a traditional Newar attire in the recently concluded Sikkim Winter Carnival 2013 from the local popular news-daily Sikkim Express, when Raman came to announce that Prajwal has come and that takes me downstairs. I find to tell him that he had grown taller and bigger over a year with the success of his debut book The Gurkha’s Daughter the name and fame he earned for himself, his family and Sikkim that we all are proud of. I welcome and felicitate this youth icon with the traditional Gorkha khada (scarf) soon to follow by my wife Ranjana congratulating him on his brilliant achievement. When he was here with us last year for the launch of his debut book, to make the occasion memorable forever a photograph was posted on our website www.karunaguthi.com expressing our sentiments “Your Success is Our Success” and continuing the same excitement this time our welcome note to tell him, “Your Achievement is Our Achievement.”
His achievement is dream come true for us that we reared for over past three decades. Prajwal asks, “Auntie, isn’t that the bookshop in your name?” Ranjana replies, “No, it is named after my daughter.” “I mean to say that you are the owner!” In fact Prajwal knows Rachna, much before we met him, since they met in New York per chance when she heard talking in Nepali language and later found out he too came from the same Tashi Namgyal Academy she attended and passed out some years ago. When our late father Jai Shanker Lall Shresta thought of starting the bookshop in 1979, he thought it fit to name it also Rachna and our residence too carry the same name. Accordingly, the firm was registered with this name with him and Ranjana jointly and trade licence was obtained. This was a time when every town, village and market saw the unprecedented mushrooming of Indian Made Foreign Liquor-shops. Knowing well, book-selling was not a profitable as a profession, we yet ventured into taking the decision more with the sense of social service rather than anything else. Further, it would set a good example for the benefit of the people at large and as a guideline leading to a better future for the coming generation. It was his foresightedness and a vision as well for he was a graduate from the Banaras Hindu University founded by the great educationist Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya who did his M.A. (Commerce) from the Calcutta University in 1940. All was well and happy with the family business started in 1887 under the name and style of Harishankerlal Ramshankerlal Nepali, more popular as Nepali Kothi, at Chaukhambha in the holy city of Banaras with the branch office at the Kodamul Building on the 10th Mile Kalimpong. With the end of the Indo-Tibet trade our family business too came to an abrupt end. On persistent requests from the local gentry and the then Director of Education in the erstwhile Government of Sikkim, my father joined the service in 1958. He not only took charge of the Rhenock Primary School, one of the earliest schools to be started by the Christian Missionaries during the British Raj, but also raised it to the standard of a Junior High School that ultimately to be one of the earliest Senior Secondary Schools to be recognized by the Government in Sikkim. He was felicitated during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the school but above all, he is still fondly remembered as the Head Sir as a mark of respect to his far-reaching contributions even after he is no more amidst us since his sad demise in 2003. It is matter of great pride for us and our family members to find amongst his students Dr. Shanti Chettri did research on an eminent personality of Kalimpong late Ramkrishna Sharma that fetched her doctorate from the North Bengal University way back in 1992 itself. Another student of his Dr. Hari Prasad Chettri achieved this feat even after his superannuation from his service in the Government of Sikkim. In spite of many obstacles and hurdles, we kept the bookshop running somehow until our son in the third generation Raman came forward and took the cudgels to run it more as a matter of family prestige. His determination and dedication with which Rachna Books is receiving the love, support, patronage and appreciation from all corners and all our friends and well-wishers give us some sense of satisfaction with an opportunity to pay tribute to the departed soul of our founder/ father.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important that any other one thing. Abraham Lincoln