A mother went to pick up her daughter from elementary school and found her doing handstands against the wall. When they got into the car, the mother said, “Darling, I wish you wouldn’t do that because the boys can see your panties.” “Okay, mommy,” the little girl replied. The next day, the mother noticed her little girls hands looked dirty, so she asked, “You haven’t been doing handstands again and letting those boys see your panties, have you?” “Oh no, mummy,” the daughter replied. “Honestly! I took them off first.”
असार महिनाको पन्ध्र गते हाम्रो नेपाली समाजमा दही-चिउरा खाने परम्परा छ । आˆनो घरमा दुहुना गाई/भैसी नहुनेले पनि किनेर, खोजेर, मागेर ल्याएर पनि खाने चाड मान्ने चलन छ । सबैका घरमा धेरथोर दही-चिउरा तयार हुन्छ । यस वर्षको मनसुन ढिलो प्रारम्भ भएको कारण पानी परेको छैन । सिचाइको अभावमा जमिन मुख बाएर बसेका छन् । अधिकांश आकाशे खेत बाझो पल्टेका छन् । थोरै कुलो लाग्ने खेतको पनि रोपाइ थालनी भएको छैन । राकसे बूढाको धेरैजसो खेत पानी पट्ने हुनाले खेतको काम भ्याइनभ्याइ छ । गाउमा राकसे बूढा आफैा पनि खेतमा दिन बिताउाछन् । हली, गोरु बिहानै खेतमा पुग्दछन् । आफू र जन-वन झण्डै बराबरी लगाउाछन् ।
सााझमा पानी छिट्याएजस्तो भएको थियो । बाहिर काममा जानेहरू अलि ढिलो घरमा भित्रिन आउने गर्थे । खेतको काम प्रशस्त हुने गथ्र्यो । दिन लामा, रात छोटा हुादा थकाई मार्दै काम गर्दा पनि कामको भाग बढी देखाउन सकिने । जोत्ने, आली काट्ने, बियाड उखेल्ने, रोप्ने आदि काम गर्नुपर्ने । खेतको कामको व्यस्तता छ भने बारीको कामको पनि व्यस्तता थपिन लाग्या छ । अघौटे मकै पूरै पाकेर भााच्ने समय भएको छ र पाकेको मकैलाई सुगाले ज्यादै खेदो गर्छ । केटाकेटी लगाएर टिन ठटाएर हाहा-स्यूास्यूा गरेर धपाउन बाध्य हुनपर्छ । अझ नजिक बाासझ्याङ्ग भएका स्थानमा त मकैको खेदो पाइलो गर्छ सुगाले । मकैको घोगैपिच्छे सुगा सलबलाउाछन् र ठुङ्छन् ।
राकसे बूढाको गाईले सााझ दूध दिएन, दुहुन बसेको नरमानलाई लात्तीले हानेर बलड्यान खेलाइदियो । नरमान तीन हात पर उछिट्टयिो । गोबरमा लटपटिन पुग्यो । नरमानले गाईको फााचो धुन मात्र के लागेको थियो, ढुङ्ग्राको पानी पोखिनुको साथै ढुङ्ग्रो विपरीत दिशामा घोप्टिन पुग्यो गाईको खुट्टाले । गोबरमा लटपटिएको शरीर लिएर नरमान जेठीमैयाालाई गाईले दूध नदिएको खबर सुनाउन पुग्यो । कोठीको चामल झिकेर नाङ्लोमा राखेर निफन्दै थिइन् जेठीमैयाा । के कुतल पर्यो । घाास पनि पुगेन कि भनेर चर्चा भएन, त्यतातिर कसैको ध्यान गएन ।
नाङ्लामा केलाउादै गरेको चामल भान्साकोठामा राखेर जेठीमैया सारी सुर्कदै आागनमा आइन् । ठूलो स्वरले “कुन रााडीले गाईलाई टुनामुना गरिदियो भनेर कराउन लागिन् । कुन रााडीका आाखा र छौडा लागे भन्दै आागनमा चक्कर काटिन् । बूढीका आाखा राता भए । चाडबाडका दिन अनेकथरिका रााडहरूलाई यहीा गाड्न मुन्ट्याउाछन् । ए नरमान जा धामी बोलाउन, पुछारघरे साहिला घरमा आइपुग्या होला, बोक्सी रााडीहरूको करामत हो । ब्याएको तीन महिना भएको छ ।” जेठीमैयााको आाखा गाईको थलामा घुम्न सकेन । गाईको थलामा घाास छ, छैन । चरणबाट आउादा गाईले पेट उकासो, उकासेन । दिउासो खोले पनि पायो पाएन आदिबारे जेठीमैयााको सोच पुगेन ।
दूध किन दिएन भन्नेतिर मात्र मन कुतकुत्तियो, आक्रोशित मात्र भइन् बूढी । बेला न कुबेला रााडीहरू घर-आागन-गुवाली चाहार्न आउाछन् । दशथरिका प्रश्न सोध्न तम्सिन्छन् । तरकारी, नून भुटुन चाहिन्छ बजिनीहरूलाई, रााडीहरूको केही खाएको न पाएको बोक्सी रााडी छिर्किनी गर्न आएकी थिई, उसैको नजर लागे क्यार । शोभ सालधुप र झुम्रो सल्काएर गाईको तारैतिर घुमाई दे, त्यही केही क्षणपछि नजर भगाएर दिन्छिन् कि जेठीमैयााको आक्रोश थामियो यति भन्दै ।
बुहारी शोभा सालधुप खोजेर, घुमाउनतिर लागी । सासूका वचन कानमा थापिरही, केही जवाफ गर्न सकिन । सासूका मुखबाट व्यक्त भएका असभ्य शब्दहरूसाग ऊ सहमत भने थिइन । शोभालाई बोक्सी विद्या भन्ने कुरीतिगत सोचाइमा त्यति विश्वास थिएन । विरोध गर्ने आाट पनि भएन ।
अलिकति घाास थपिदिन्छु, पेट उकासेपछि केही क्षणमा दिन्छ कि बाच्छो बााधेको छु । नरमानले नरम जेठीमैयाालाई जवाफ गर्यो । मकैको थाङ्ग्राको बलामा ल्याएर रित्तो ढुङ्ग्रो झुण्ड्यायो ।
केही क्षणपछि बूढीको बक्बक् पुनः प्रारम्भ भयो । जथाभावी कुरा छाद्न थालिन् । दिउासो त्यही लखवेश्या पापिनी सङ्गारे आइमाई उमेरमै पोइलाई अघि लगाएर, दुईवटी छोरी चेपेर जीवन घिसार्दै छनि, नक्कली विधवा भएर पनि कोरीबाटी गरेर हिाड्छे । चाउरी परेको गालाको मुजा थाहा छैन । छोरी पधलेर पोइ खोजेर हिाड्न आाट्याछन् । आमालाई बैासले छाडेको छैन । केही क्षणअघि मुन्टेकी थिई यहा । बजिनी निकै समयसम्म थच्चिई । बारह सत्ताइस कुरा बखानी । त्यसको देवर विदेश गएर पैसा कुम्ल्याएर पठाएको समाचारसमेत फलाक्थी । त्यस बजिनीको देवरले पठाएको सम्पत्तिसाग हाम्रो के नातो र स्वार्थ । चोथालेको देवर थियो, पोइ बनाएको हो कि, पैसा पठाइदिएकाले सुखका दिन आए भन्थी ।
नरमान बूढीका कुरा कान थाप्दै गुवालीको बलेसीमा घुर बाल्दै थियो । मच्छडले गाई-गोरु ज्यादै छट्पटाएका थिए । वषर्ा यस्तै हो । गोवरग्यास र बिजुलीको कारण र पानी नजिकै जमेपछि भुसुना र मच्छड लाग्नु स्वाभाविकै हुन्छ नि, गर्मी पनि त अति छ ।
पर दोबाटोको छेउमा सञ्जयले आमाको चर्को स्वर सुनेको थियो । केही नबोली सरासर आागनमा आएर उभियो । आमालाई भान्साकोठामा बसेर जथाभावी फलाक्दै गरेको देख्यो, सुन्यो । आमा यसरी किन उम्लिरहेकी थिइन् । ज्वालामुखी पड्केजस्तै । आखिर यो फलाको र ईष्र्या, डाह कोमाथि खन्याएको हो बुझ्न चाहृयो ।
आमाको आवेग र आक्रोश कम गर्न, शालिन तरिकाले नरम स्वरमा सञ्जयले सोध्यो ? के भयो आमा, किन यसरी ठूलो स्वरले जथाभावी गाली गर्दै हुनुहुन्छ । घरमा त नरमान र बुहारी मात्र छन् । बुइनी पनि देखिएकी छैन । साना नानीहरूलाई तपाईंका यी शब्द वाणसाग कुनै साइनो र सम्बन्ध हुादैन । भयो के ?
“बाबु खेतबाट दिनभरिको कामले लखतरान भएर खेतालाका साथ आउादै हुनुहुन्छ ।”
दिनभरि बजारमा घुमेर आएको छस् ता, पाहुनाजस्तो भएर टुपलुकिएझैा । घरमा कस्तो घटना घट्छ, कस्ता मान्छेले के टुनामुना गरेर जान्छन् । घरमा परेको बिघ्नबाधामा न उमेर पुगेकी छोरीलाई चासो छ, न बुहारीलाई, न जागिर खाएको छोरालाई । हण्डर खेप्नुपर्ने त हामी दुई जोई-पोइले मात्र त हो नि । उमेरले बूढो भनेर पार पाइएको छैन । हण्डर र मुक्तमान कति भोग्नु, जीवनभरि दुःख गर्न लेखिया रहेछ । दिनभरि घरमा बसेर अनेकौा लण्ठा भोग्नु न हो ।
“कमसेकम तपाईंले बुझेको, तपाईंलाई मर्का परेको झ्याउला पन्साउन परेको दिकदारी चोट हाम्रा सामु राम्रो तरिकाले बुझाएर भने पो न्याय, अन्याय र मर्का कस्तो पथ्र्यो बुझ्न पाए पो बोल्नु त”, सञ्जयले आमालाई कडा शब्द भावभङ्गी मिलाएर आागनको कुर्सीमा बस्तै व्यक्त गर्यो ।
पार्वती र शोभा पनि आागनमा आएर त्यही समयमा ठिङ्ग उभिए । उनीहरूको अनुहार गम्भीर चिन्तायुक्त देखिन्थ्यो । एक प्रकार स्थिति बेग्लै हुन गयो । वास्तविक कुरा खोतल्नु सञ्जयको कर्तव्य नै थियो । सबै जना आागन र दलानमा भेला भए । जेठीमैयाले उठाएको रडाको बारे पार्वती र शोभा अनभिज्ञ नै थिए । मेलोमेसो नै थिएन । झोल घोप्ट्याएजस्तो अनुहार पारेर नरमानले भन्यो गाईले दूध दिएन ।
गाई सबेरै बााधेको, खोलेपानी पनि दिन भ्याएको थिएन । खेतको चटारोले सबको ध्यान खेततिर केन्दि्रत भएको छ । शोभाले घोसेमुन्टो लगाएर डराई डराई भनी । सञ्जयले बोल्न नपाउादै बूढी सबका सामु कुर्लिन् । मसली आएकी थिई, थोरै बात चुटेर गई । रााडीका मुखका दाात झरेका छन् । अनुहार हेर्दै बोक्सीजस्ती लाग्छे । पोतो बसेको अनुहार छ । लेघ्रो तानेर चिप्लाई घसेर बोलेर गाड्छन् । काकीको त गाई दूध दिादै छ, थाकेको छैन । मेरो भैासी त थाक्यो, साटोपाटोको चााजोपााजो मिलाउन भनेको भनेर लेघ्रो तान्थी । निकै समय थचारिई । काम न काजकी बजिनीलाई पिाधमा फोका उठुञ्जेल बसे पनि के बित्ने लवस्तरीको । के तन्तर मन्तर गरेर गई, गाईले टाङमुनि बस्न दिएन । नरमानलाई नै पल्टाई दियो । तिमीहरूलाई भाग बस्न पाए भई हाल्ने, पुर्याउनु टार्नुसाग कुनै सरोकार छैन । छोराबुहारी र छोरीको सामु भुत्भुताएपछि बूढीको रिस आधा घट्यो । एकपल्ट आाखा फर्काएर पूर्वी आकाश हेरेर मौन भइन् । शोभा केही नबोली भान्सामा प्रवेश गरिन् । पेटभरि घाास खान दिउा दूध, देला नि । गाईवस्तु यदाकदा यस्तो भइहाल्छ नि । आमाको बानी पनि ठीक छैन क्या । बढी अर्कालाई आरोप र दोष लगाउनुहुन्छ पार्वतीले आˆनो मनको कुरा गरी ।
आमाले टिप्पा खाइन् । तालाई लवस्तरी, नक्कली । लाद्रो भर्न पाए भइहाल्छ । पोइको घर खान सकिनस् । बाबु र दाजुको कमाईमा भाउजूलाई कजाएर खान पल्केकी छस् र गोडा पसारेर हसुर्छेस् । टार्न पुर्याउने मान्छे दोषी हुन्छ । टार्नु पुर्याउनु नपर्नेलाई सधैा हाइसञ्चो ।
निकै गम खाएर सञ्जयले आमाको रिसलाई कम गर्ने प्रयत्न गर्यो । आमालाई सम्झाउने किसिमले भन्यो तपाईंले जीवनको लामो यात्रा पार लाउनुभएको छ । सत्तरीको नजिक पुग्नु भो । केश फुलेर हिमालजस्तै सेता भएका छन् । तपाईंको रिस कम भएको छैन । दायााबायाा बुझ्न हुन्न । कसैसाग रिस उठ्नेबित्तिकै बोक्सीको आरोपमा मान्छेलाई मुछ्नु हुन्न । अपराध हुन्छ । सक्नेले मुद्दा लगाइदिन सक्छन् । दाात झर्नेबित्तिकै बोक्सी हुादैन । विधवा अथवा एकल महिला हुनु अपराध होइन, बाध्यता हो । तपाईंका छोरा छन् । उनका छोरी मात्र छन् । तपाईंसाग सम्पत्ति छ, उनी गरिब छिन् । आफूले सम्मान पाउन अर्काको पनि सम्मान गर्न जान्नुपर्छ ।
सञ्जयले यति लामो कुरा गर्दा जेठीमैयाा कान थापेर सुनिरहिन् । एक शब्द पनि फर्काउन सकिनन् । आफूले गल्ती गरेको महसुस गरेर जवाफ नफर्काएको हुनसक्छ । बूढीको अनुहार मलिन भएको र पश्चाताप महसुस गरेको जस्तो लाग्दथ्यो ।
केही क्षणको मौनतापछि सञ्जयले आˆना कुरा फेरि भन्न थाल्यो बिचरी मसली भाउजूले भैासीको दूध बेचेर छोरी पढाएकी छन् । देवरले विदेशबाट पैसा पठाइदिन थाल्या छ । सुखका दिन आए भनेर खुसी छन् । नागरिकता बनाइदिन अधिकार पाए महिलाले छोराछोरीको नागरिकता बनाउन अब देवर-जेठाजुको शरण पर्न परेन गाईले दूध नदिनुको कारण त पेटभरि खोले-घाास खान नपाएर पो त हो त । बुढेसकालमा सम्मान खोज्नेकी अपमान । तपाईंले व्यक्त गरेका शब्दहरू र शब्दवाण मसली भाउजूले थाहा पाइन् भने के हुन्छ ? जीवनको नियति यस्तै कठोर हुन्छ कि नरम ?
सञ्जयले सम्झाएपछि जेठीमैयाको रिस केही कम त भयो तर भुत्भुताउन भने केहीबेरसम्म थामिएकी थिइनन् । के युग आयोआयो हगेका लिाडको शासन सहनुपर्ने, लाद्रो भर्न पाएपछि जे बोल्दा पनि हुने, अरूले पचाई दिनुपर्ने त्यसो त अब संसारमा भगवान् पनि छैनन्, धामी, झााक्री, ज्योतिषी सब नष्ट भए, बोक्सी नभए धामी किन चाहियो । गोठको धूप किन गर्ने, कुलाइन पूजा किन गर्ने ? आदि बकवासपछि बूढी भित्र प्रवेश गरिन् ।
पार्वती र शोभा केही बोलेनन् । नरमान गाईलाई खोले दिन थाल्यो । सञ्जयले घरमा भएका सबैले सुन्ने गरी पुनः आˆनो भनाइ राख्ने प्रयत्न गर्यो ।
विगतको युग नै त्यस्तै थियो, मान्छेले आˆनो शक्ति चिन्न-बुझ्न सकेका थिएनन्, अाध्यारो युगमा निरीह भएर बााचेका थिए, एक्लो जीवन बिताएका थिए । भौतिक प्रगति भएको थिएन । अाध्यारो युगले दिएको गलत संस्कृति र अन्धविश्वास हो । बोक्सीका कुरा अब गर्दै हिाड्नु अपराध हुन्छ । अब हामी नयाा युगमा प्रवेश गरेका छौा । भोलि उमेर, सम्पत्ति र छोराको धाक नदेखाई मसली भाउजूसाग यी आज व्यक्त गरेका बकवास र आरोप अब आइन्दा कसैलाई लगाउने छैन भनेर माफी माग्नुपर्छ भन्दै सञ्जयले आमालाई सम्झायो ।
सञ्जयका घरमा भएका कुरा थाहा पाएर हो या नपाई हो, मसली भाउजू बिहान सबेरै त्यस घरमा आइन् । राकसे बूढाका घरपरिवार सब चुपचाप भए । मसलीले जेठीमैयाालाई नमस्कार गर्दै आागनको कुर्सी तानेर बसिन् । केही क्षण सब मौन रहे । मसलीसाग बोल्ने आाट गरेनन् । केही क्षणको मौनतापछि मसली आफैाले भनिन्- “काकी तपाईंलाई देख्दा आमा देखेजस्तै लाग्दथ्यो र आदर गर्दथेा । कसैको नम्रता, श्रद्धा र आदर्शलाई कमजोरी ठानेर दशथरिका आरोप लगाउन कति निन्दनीय छ” भन्दै बसेको ठाउाबाट उठेर बाटो लागिन् । कसैले पनि उनलाई बस भन्न सकेनन् र विषय र प्रयोजन पनि कोट्याउन चाहेनन् ।
Madhav Ghimmire is a living legend. Born in 1919, he is among the last of the older generation of poets in Nepal. His contemporaries – Bal Krishna Sama, Laxmi Prasad Devkota, and Siddhicharan Shrestha – have become historical figures in the annals of Nepalese literature; Ghimire is the only link to their past. A time in which these poets created some of the most powerful verses in Nepali literature. Today, their works are studied in school, college, and university.
Madhav Ghimire does echo the past. His eyes twinkle as he fondly remembers old times. At this point in his life, he is eight-one years old, he expresses contentment regarding his personal and professional experiences. Ghimire knows his destiny has been proven and he is pleased about it. His childhood, youth, and adulthood are now memories he reflects upon calmly. His innate love for the study of literature has made possible the growth of his poetic genius. As he recites a few lines from “Rupa Rani”, one can appreciate the rhythmic use of his words. What comes to mind is the play of sunlight on water, the breeze soft on the skin, and the sensation of lightness. Ghimire caresses words like an ardent lover; he seeks for emotional gratification in his creations and is comforted.
His childhood was spent in Lamjung District – among the hills, trees, rivers, and birds of rural Nepal and he grew up playing nearby cowsheds – the herders, cows and calves his close companions. Ghimire’s father was the second son in the family and was responsible for looking after cattle. They lived as a joint family and had enough to go by. The eldest son looked over household affairs and farming. Ghimire’s father along with the herders would stay high up in the lekh for several months in the cowshed and during winter, they would bring the cattle down to graze in the besi. Eight-year-old Ghimire would often accompany them and during his stay, loved having rice and milk amidst surroundings rich with natural resources. Sometimes when the cattle were fed salt, a customary practice in cow herding, his father would also add salt to young Ghimire’s meal.
Since he was most of the time away from home with his father, he was unable to develop close ties with his cousins. He became used to his loneliness and found solace in the natural beauty of his environment. In this way, the poet’s relationship with nature became a bond he feels as strongly about today. “It has been years since I last visited my village. I know the cattle are no longer taken up to the same area for grazing, but I desire to visit old haunts. Most probably I won’t recognize anyone in the village, but I feel the same about the place. I can feel the river flowing, the small trees growing; they must be big trees by now, and the heat of the sun on the riverbank’s stones. About this time, mid-April, kafuls and aisalus fruit would be ripening and bird songs would burst from the trees.
Ghimire’s mother died when he was about one and half year old, he tries to remember her but the memories are old. What he does acknowledge is the longing he had for her – to be held in her warm embrace and experience her compassion. “I coveted the way my jetho buba and jetho muwa (his father’s elder brother and sister-in-law) showered their affection on their son, Mohan Lal, my cousin who is about three to four months older than me. I also wanted to hear the sound of my mother’s voice calling my name. I wanted her to protect me like a hen with her chicks. I searched for the same kind of privilege I felt my cousin received from his parents. My jetho muwa cared for me, but I couldn’t help feeling insecure knowing she was not my mother. I think this is my childhood’s only greatest loss.
“Sometimes I thought my jetho buba and jetho muwa were indifferent to me. I was under the impression that my jetho buba wanted his son to do better in life – study hard and get an education. My grandmother adored me, but I think she felt uncomfortable to openly display affection on me. Maybe she thought it would displease her eldest son and jetho buhari.
“My father was always happy to see me after his sojourns in the lekh. He loved pampering me. I feel however, no matter how much a father loves his children, I think a mother’s love is irreplaceable. I desired to call my jetho muwa or grandmother ‘mother’ and whenever my father was around and heard me call them, he would come towards me, lift me up, and carry me. My father was sensitive about my need for my mother. I think he understood how much I wanted her.
“My father enjoyed singing. He had a good voice and his listeners would become enraptured. Especially when he recited slokas, poetical lines, they could feel the emotion in his voice and the experience would bring tears to their eyes. I was always impressed with the way my father sang; I also wanted to sing like him. Maybe unconsciously his singing and the dancing that went on in my village developed in me a desire to do something creative and beautiful. Later on, I wrote many lyrics besides poems.”
Proper educational opportunities were lacking in Ghimire’s village during his childhood. Someone who could set tithis, auspicious dates, for events like “marriages”, “Ekadasi” or “Osi” or someone who could do basic letter writing, reading and arithmetic was considered educated. “I used to sit on the pidi, outside our house and write Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha (Nepali alphabets)… on the ground with a bamboo stick. I remember a jogi, holyman, used to live on our farmland. He taught us English alphabets from an old grammar book he had; text books were non-existent then. I found studying alphabets through illustrations enjoyable.
“My father wanted me to receive educational opportunities jetho buba wished for his son. He knew unless he made the effort, his elder brother would show no interest in me. So he thought it over and decided to send me, I think when I was about twelve years old, to a jotishi, astrologer; astrology played an important role in our family and village life. This was probably the beginning of my formal education.
“Afterwards, a relative suggested to my father to send me to a school when I was fourteen or fifteen years old. It was called Bhasa Patshala, Language School, and was situated five kosh, about one or two hours walk away from our village. The guru, teacher was a Sanskrit pandit, scholar and was looking for pupils who wished to learn Sanskrit. Since our relative knew I had studied astrology and could read and write, he thought my educational base would help me study without problems. He was right because I enjoyed myself and did well.
“Depending on the season, the number of students in our class would vary. Sometimes there would be 15 to 20 of us and at other times, just about two to four students. During winter, the number of students would increase to 40 because there would be less much farm work. On the whole, I think this unrestricted kind of education suited me. Since I was attentive and listened carefully to what our teacher said, I was given a lot of attention by him when there were few students. Once I received the Ramayan as a prize. I read it, I also read the Mahabharat, and from there I selected poems of Lekhnath Poudyal. The difference I found between the religious books and Lekhnath’s poetry was the writing confidence I gained with the latter. I was able to approach Lekhnath’s work without being overwhelmed with the religious, historical or cultural context of the Ramayan and Mahabharat. Lekhnath provided me an example of how a contemporary person could create literature without feeling inhibited by his ordinariness (human weaknesses).
“I tried to create poetry and showed it to my teacher. I wasn’t sure what I had to write; the only thing I remember was I wanted to write. He liked my poems and encouraged me to continue. I sent one to the Gorkhapatra, a weekly at that time, now a national daily and it got published. I was amazed. Someone told me I would most probably become a poet. I was further amazed. To people it seemed the word ‘poet’ connoted greatness. In my experience, they were willing to read what I wrote and accepted it as literature. I think my first inspiration came from here.
“For about three years, I remained at Bhasa Patshala. Then, one day, my teacher’s younger brother returned from Kathmandu after giving his exams at Durbar High School. He told me that in ‘Nepal’, a popular name used for Kathmandu in those days had many learned people and were considered maha (great) gurus. When I heard him describe the golden temples I became in awe of ‘Nepal’; such a place could only exist in my imagination. I suddenly felt the urge to change my present state of education as well as see the world. I also knew I had already reached my potential as a student at Bhasa Patshala. By this time, my father and jetho buwa had started living separate.
“Without telling anyone at home and with seven mohar (a mohar is 50 paisa today) in my pocket, I associated myself with a trader going to Kathmandu. On reaching the capital, I became acquainted with students of the Sanskrit Patshala situated nearby Rani Pokhari (it’s still in existence). Since I had nowhere to stay, they generously shared their lodgings with me during the initial years. I helped with their cooking and ate with them. Afterwards, I sent a letter home informing my father about my whereabouts. I think he suspected me to be in Kathmandu because, I don’t remember him becoming alarmed after my departure. Later on, from time to time, he sent me money to cover my educational and living costs.”
So began Ghimire’s student’s life in Kathmandu during which he learned to manage his cooking, cleaning, and washing chores. He comments on how things have changed today. “Nowadays, students who live in Kathmandu are provided with every kind of facility to study in. They have access to good books, libraries, educational programs, and the internet. Back in my time, my student life revolved around two things: studying and learning by rote.”
Ghimire’s advantage over former students was his writing experience. Within six months’ time, he ranked second among 150 to 200 students. He became surprised with his performance. After this, he was considered budhimani, highly intelligent. Ghimire then realized that if he failed, he would lose face. He decided to work harder. His teachers impressed with his good grades recommended him to take up literature and mathematics. Towards the end of his studies, Ghimire was able to achieve first rank in his class and passed his Madhyama level of studies.
Although his studies took much of his time, eighteen-year-old Ghimmire made the time to work on his poetry. “For five years, I continuously wrote poems and published them. Slowly, I began to build up a reputation among my teachers and classmates. One day, my friend took me to Nepali Bhasa Prakashini Samiti and introduced me to Bal Krishna Sama and Krishna Shumshere. A vacancy for a writer was available in their committee and they selected me. From 1944, I started working and writing for the samiti, committee. Two years after my arrival, Laxmi Prasad Devkota joined us.
“About this time, Devkota, Gopal Prasad Rimal, Kedar Man Byathit, Siddhicharan Shrestha and I would meet regularly at the samiti. We would share and comment on each other’s work. I think this environment was congenial for our growth as poets and writers.
“Our greatest fear with our writing was the then Rana government. We had to be careful that we did not criticize them openly because they were suspicious about what we wrote. Occasionally, the samiti published a satire or two but these were very obscure. To read we had to smuggle books for ourselves. Still, I remember I was able to read and write a lot during this period.
“I think challenges are part of every situation. Each time you want to do something, you will face difficulties; this is a natural process of life. We came through the problems in our time and today, if you look at the world, you’ll see the “competitiveness” between people – writers, poets or journalists in our context – becoming a big problem. In the old days, creating a name for yourself was easier; fewer people wrote or created.”
Ghimire’s writing career developed gradually and in 1946, he became the editor of Gorkha Patra. In 1947, he participated in a poetry competition on the national flag of Nepal. Besides winning the competition, his reputation as a good poet spread. Sharada and Udaya were other journals in which he began to publish his work. He continues: “Then my first wife Gauri passed away and I was shattered. I began writing poems on her.” His poetry collection Gauri was received very well and the journal became enormously popular with the public.
Ghimire worked for two more years at the Gorkha Sansthan. However, because of his wife’s death, he realized raising two of his children, at that time his two daughters, was becoming a difficult task. For a while, he took over the management of a school in Gausar – a small town in the besi, hilly flatlands of Lamjung. Then in 1952, he participated as a trainer in a teachers’ training program in Tahachal located in the capital. Later on, a college was established in the same area, where Ghimmire taught Nepali literature until 1957. That same year, the poet who had now become nationally established, became the member of the Royal Nepal Academy. “My involvement in the academy’s activities reinforced my commitment to Nepalese Literature. My whole environment was filled with literature and creativity and, I felt, there was nothing more I wished for.” Ghimmire became Vice Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy from 1979 to 1988 and Chancellor from 1988 to 1990. During his tenure, he led delegations to China, Russia, and Bangladesh. For his work, he has received the Distinguished Academy Medal, Shree Prasiddha Praval Gorkha Dakshinabahu, Bhanubhakta Award, and Tribhuwan Pragya Puraskar among others. And his literary achievements are Gauri, Malati Mangale, Himal Pari Himal Wari, and Shakuntala to name a few.
As he reflects on his life, he expresses his desire to talk about the poet and poetry. He finds it helps him to identify himself better. “People may be able to differentiate between the physical beauty of a stone and plastic bag. When they are asked to select between a flower or lalupate leaf, it becomes difficult. Both things are part of nature’s creation and are attractive. I think, here, the poet becomes indiscriminate. Here, they are able to distinguish between that subtlety and describe both things with equal poetic intensity.
“Similarly, people differ by their personalities. They respond differently to the same situation. If a person is slapped, she or he may react violently or angrily. We may regard this response in two ways: objectively and subjectively. I think the expression of poets is based on the latter. They look beyond the person’s violence or anger and, reach into the depths of her/his mind.
“For example, a lahure, Nepali soldier working for British or Indian Army, is known to his commander by his role number. When he dies in battle, news reaches his village and people think highly of his valor. His brave deed is regarded objectively. However, what are his mother’s feelings? She has been expecting him to return, maybe bring her a gift, and when she hears about her son’s death, it is not a role number but an integral part of hers that dies. She thinks she should have died instead of her son. How would you define her feelings?
“When a mother’s child cries, she feels pain. So whether it’s the mother who lost her son or the mother whose child is crying is not the issue. The emotional content both mothers convey is important. This is what comes into the poet’s poetry. Pain, anger, joy, or sorrow subjectively described is what makes poetry real.
Talking about today’s literary environment, Ghimmire is speculative. “In my time, even though we feared the Rana government, we did not let go of our commitment. We did tapashya, penitence with our poetry. Nowadays, although competition is strife, a lot of young people have the freedom to follow their interests. But how long they will want to commit themselves to writing or art – a path of mental, emotional, and physical struggle – is something else.
“Also, because of economic and technology progress, youth today have access to modern amenities. Nowadays they have computers at home. Although these changes have helped lives become better; at the same time, they have developed a more relaxed view in people regarding work – the grit and perseverance that makes creation brilliant – which I think is missing.
“The way appreciation is being given to people is disappointing as well. When you watch television, you see this person or that person being acknowledged. Whether their work is worth it or not; it doesn’t seem to signify. The publicity stunt seems to weigh much more. And in time, this kind of process will devalue the meaning of literature and art.
Ghimire rationalizes that poetry should stand up for human values. “Children are brought up learning values that later form their perceptions. Sometimes, they are learnt to believe the wrong things. Look at our caste system. It leads to a misunderstood perception of class structure that is damaging. When I was a child, I used to play with a boy from the Damai, tailoring class (Before, in Nepal, vocations were allocated according to a person’s caste). Once while I was bathing in the river, he came by in a dhunga, small boat and I playfully tried to catch him. He then splashed me with water. Everything about us was natural and spontaneous.
“I feel poets should be able to go beyond the social hierarchical boundary and give humanity vision. By using their poetical skills, they should be able to seek the truth and broaden minds.”
Ghimmire believes as poets or writers we should be able to advocate world peace, justice, humanitarian deeds, etc. We have leaders who govern the country but they try to solve problems through political or administrative means. With poets or writers, wisdom should emanate from their writings.
“Most important is the conscience of the poet – how s/he perceives things; to be able to feel for the sufferings of others is what a poet should be able to emote in words. Like in Devkota’s “Muna Madan”:
Manche thulo dilale huncha, jatale hundaina,
A generous heart makes you profound and not your family/caste.
“These are the words of a compassionate man and they make you feel deeply. “Why did Devkota feel like this? Who can understand? Why do poets feel the way they feel? Who can understand? I think being able to write good poetry is a boon for others. People have the opportunity to look through the eyes of a poet and sense the beauty, ugliness, sadness or happiness in the world. Sometimes in ugliness or hardships, poets see things differently. Here, their hearts rule over their minds.
“In the past, I wrote many poems on the Himalayas. People started to call me the ‘poet’ of the Himalayas. Then someone questioned me whether I preferred the hard life in the hills to the less difficult life in the plains. I feel, however, the richness of the mountains move me; I cannot stop it. I loved my first wife Gauri dearly. She had scars on her face from small pox. Yet it mattered little to me. When I wrote poems on her, I was writing from my heart.”
To the eight-one-year old poet, social consciousness is another strong element in poetry. His awareness regarding a catastrophe like the effects of nuclear warfare indicates his sensitivity towards the future of the world and, the reason behind his poem Ashastha. He especially feels strongly about the status of women in Nepal. For him, they represent a symbol of struggle and hardship. “I find I strengthen my poetry by writing on social issues. This does not mean that poetry that comes from the heart is less significant. I feel poetry that comes from the mind is as important; it only takes a different mode of expression. Besides, this kind of poetry requires enlightenment. It cannot come from experience alone.
“As poets or writers, we cannot expect our work to make tangible changes in society, but down the years, it should be able to give the human spirit that conscience, courage, and foresight to make those changes possible.”
A priest is sitting in a confession box and has to go to the bathroom. He calls an alter boy over and says, “I have to go pee and I need you to take over.” Not knowing what to do, the alter boy asks for help. The priest says, “Just give them a few Hail Marys and send them on their way.” Soon after, a blonde woman walks in the booth and says, “Forgive me father. I have committed a sin. I gave my boyfriend a blowjob.” The alter boy is confused, so he asks another nearby alter boy, “What does the priest usually give for a blowjob?” The second alter boy replies, “I don’t know about you, but my price is a candy bar and a Pepsi.”
O my chief good,
How shall I measure out thy blood?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?
Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one star show’d thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?
Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or cannot leaves, but fruit be sign
Of the true vine?
Then let each hour
Of my whole life one grief devour:
That thy distress through all may run,
And be my sun.
Or rather let
My several sins their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sin may so.
Since blood is fittest, Lord to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:
That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
‘No room for me’, and fly away.
How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! ev’n as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasures bring.
Grief melts away
Like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shrivl’d heart
Could have recover’d greenness? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.
These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an hour;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell.
We say amiss,
This or that is:
Thy word is all, if we could spell.
O that I once past changing were,
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither!
Many a spring I shoot up fair,
Off’ring at heav’n, growing and groaning thither:
Nor doth my flower
Want a spring-shower,
My sins and I joining together:
But while I grow in a straight line,
Still upwards bent, as if heav’n were mine own,
Thy anger comes, and I decline:
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone,
Where all things burn,
When thou dost turn,
And the least frown of thine is shown?
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light,
It cannot be
That I am her
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Who would be more,
Swelling through store,
Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.
Sweet Peace, where dost thou dwell? I humbly crave,
Let me once know.
I sought thee in a secret cave,
And ask’d, if Peace were there,
A hollow wind did seem to answer, No:
Go seek elsewhere.
I did; and going did a rainbow note:
Surely, thought I,
This is the lace of Peace’s coat:
I will search out the matter.
But while I looked the clouds immediately
Did break and scatter.
Then went I to a garden and did spy
A gallant flower,
The crown-imperial: Sure, said I,
Peace at the root must dwell.
But when I digged, I saw a worm devour
What showed so well.
At length I met a rev’rend good old man;
Whom when for Peace
I did demand, he thus began:
There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who lived with good increase
Of flock and fold.
He sweetly lived; yet sweetness did not save
His life from foes.
But after death out of his grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat;
Which many wond’ring at, got some of those
To plant and set.
It prospered strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth:
For they that taste it do rehearse
That virtue lies therein;
A secret virtue, bringing peace and mirth
By flight of sin.