From my own turf - 3
Venturing out again
Publishing one book more
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Three years make a pretty long period if you cannot come out with a book from the publishing house of your own having been to writing accounts all these years. I wanted to celebrate 20 years of our first book that saw two editions in 1996 and 2001. Newa: Varna, Lipi ra Bhasha Parichaya with 5000 copies printed most of them did not bring me back payment from individuals/parties whom the book was given to sell. For us they were, as such, as good as distributed free courtesy those who had come forward to help the Nobel cause which we had ventured out. To make it easy to pocket of the buyers, price was kept at bare minimum. No regrets either as the greater cause was served that helped us repay the society that gave us so much. This book was found an entry in the Glossary compiled as Vivaranatmak Granth Kosh by the Nepal Rajakiya Pragya Pratishthan commonly also known as the Nepal Academy. It was a small book in some 60+ pages with a colourful cover page that depicted the life in general of the Newars encompassing all major activities to showcase. It was beautifully done Aishu Mathema while working for the Graphics Edge, Kathmandu for the second edition in 2001. For our new book The Newars of Sikkim World-Wide : Connecting the Dots Sikkim too, I tried to rope him in but he regretted as he was into something else in Photography these days. His Facebook postings show him with activities associated with the Canon that took him to Singapore recently. We are grateful for this wonderful cover photo that has now been our identity as well. People know both of us (Ranjana and me) for this book that was sort of a pioneering task at a time when the Newar language was threatened due to its use even in Newar families in the mainland Kathmandu too being shifted and replaced. I have invited Aishu to visit Gangtok, which he has not yet. His friend Rajesh Sthapit continuing with Graphics Edge renamed Layout at the same place visited some years ago when we were out of Gangtok. It was Layout to give my idea converted into the shape of the cover of the book that we had brought out under the auspices of Karuna Devi Smarak Dharmarth Guthi in 2013 dedicated to college-friend turned litterateur Sharad Chhetri. He was more popularly known as Kathako Kamdhenu for he churned out not only stories but prose and poetry with equal ease and flair to give us 34 books in all. His last book was from his sick bed on his last birthday before he left for the eternal journey a fortnight later. Sharad Chhetri Smritigranth was launched in a grand function in the Nepali Sahitya Sammelan, Darjeeling that was graced by none other than the Banga Ratna Krishna Singh Moktan, whom I came to know reading his Charan Dhuli while in school. The function was attended by leading luminaries of the Nepali literary world both from Sikkim and Darjeeling. Dr. Shanti Chhetri, Kedar Gurung, Pradyumana Shrestha, Amar Baniya ‘Lohoro’, Dr. Jiwan Namdung, Dr. Jas Yonjan ‘Pyasi’, C. K. Rai, Om Narayan Gupta, Dal Singh ‘Akela’, Uday Subba ‘Gorkha’, Surya Shrestha, Sachendra Rai, Laxmi Kalikote, Snehlata with husband Puran Rai my college-friend besides Dr. Kavindra Tamang, Dhan Singh Moktan and Prem Pradhan and Gopi Chandra Pradhan as the President of Nepali Sahitya Sammelan, Darjeeling to chair this great event among host of others present that day in honour of departed litterateur-friend Sharad in presence of his wife Shobha Chettri and daughter Shailika.
This time I had conceptualized in my endeavour that complimented the title of the book and the subject covered perfectly as it to celebrate a great occasion coinciding with the great historic event that took the Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim to reach the glory something unique and unparalleled that put it into the world floriculture map a hundred year ago. The pioneering works done by our forefathers be it clearing of thick forests full of wild denizens, infested with Kalo Jwaro meaning Black Fever, i.e., Malaria as the place was then and still famous as the Black Hill, introduction of paddy cultivation by land terracing system and thereafter revenue system to bring in much needed funds to the ruling royal government and further to open copper mines and mint for the first and last time as well the coins inscribed Sri Sikkim Sarkar on obverse and Sri Sikkim Pati Maharaj on the other. It was around this time 150 years ago that the Taksari Laxmidas Newar and Taksari Chandrabir Newar obtained the rights from the Durbar. It was 50 years later than the Bhojpur Taksar was started by the Newars in the eastern part of Nepal that very recently celebrated its 200 Years in a grandiose manner in mid-February this year. We too wanted to attend the week-long Festival there but the situation there stopped us from venturing out. Our friend Nareshbir Shakya of Elohan Publications from Kathmandu attended the Festival might have shared his experience in some of his publications that I had no access to share with my readers in detail here.
For the back-cover of the book I had in my mind a collage of 34 books that was sent by Sharad’s son-in-law Thapa to well complement the works of the deceased. For my new book I could use much treasured picture taken from our home Jaisri at Aritar, Rhenock on winter evening five years ago and of the sunset that reminded me of the melancholic number could possible only from Mukesh composed by Yogesh to the music by Salil Chaudhury from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s classic Anand showing superstar Rajesh Khanna singing Kahin door jab din dhal jaye. Here I have tried complementing the picture with some extracts from the Foreword in the book “The mantra propounded by Laxmidas Kasaju to amalgamate Newars of various castes into a single clan by designating them as Pradhans is a farsighted move as we visualize now. The development of Sikkim in which Pradhans entered and excelled in each and every field from agriculture to administration to entrepreneurships they entered into and gave a firm foundation to what is Sikkim today is a fact of history.”
Some years ago a relative of mine had asked me why not some book that would give information of the events from the days we are passing through and this one is an effort if it could meet his idea of such a book on The Newars. He is no more amidst us today but he said it should be something worth giving as a gift to give some idea about our culture, tradition and heritage to those coming from abroad to Nepal in quest of the knowledge. He wanted it to be like the classic The Newars by Dr. Gopal Singh Nepali that was a doctoral thesis submitted sixty years ago. Mine is just a collection of personal account over the past few years that I happened to come across during my sojourn in Nepal or in the US. The people, organizations and places visited make my world to take you readers beyond the narrow limits we have been living in Sikkim for past 150 Years. This new offering of mine is to document whatever I came across and observed that necessarily need not match with the ideals of many from my own society or community but for the sake of recording of all those that would be of use for the posterity if not for the immediate benefit. Yet to read Eudora Welty but her line I liked to borrow and share here as found it appropriate too to my story this time, “Wherever you go, you meet part of your story.”
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