There are a few stories that jar you, bring you to your knees and show you what you have been shying away from for so long. Partition, war, riot stories are something that I particularly stay away from because of the nature of human turmoil and anguish encapsulated within them. Also, with me being a Sikh and having heard of torture imposed on not only our Gurus but also our fellow men during 1984, bombings and civil riots during 1993 and other such tragic events, my palate to digest human lynching is particularly small.
When I saw the book that had come my way I didn’t know what to expect because a. It was my first ever book from Nepali Literature and b. It was of people and times not usually found in our history books. I was apprehensive at first when I read the blurb because I didn’t know if I would be able to complete it. However, the almost poetic prose and writing style kept me engaged and I found myself getting immersed into the story voluntarily.
This is the story of Janak, an educated man who inherits his father’s Austin and his good naturedness, following through the Indian Partition of 1947 and the Second World War of 1945. Set between the captivating hills of Darjeeling, it follows the story of how civil unrest transforms him from a simple man to a rebel. When his business goes south, family runs into tatters and relationships fall apart due to a civil unrest, he forges ahead to gather the pieces and move forward.
I think it takes a lot of skill to interwine relationships, human emotions and politics unrest without actually losing the plot of it all and what is even more difficult is to translate it into another language. Indra Bahadur Rai’s writing style has been kept as authentic as can be by the ace translator Manjushree Thapa and the depth of the story, characters and outlines are accurately merged into the original ones. You can see the effort the translator has put in to not only convert the words and landscapes but also retain the ethnicity of the emotions in doing so. I was actually quite impressed with how much I read the original writer’s work through Thapa’s words.
For my first ever Nepali Literature read, I couldn’t have asked for a better start. As I found out for my friend Sudeepta Pradhan from @booksteaandmore the original Nepali novel is called Aaja Ramita Chha and anyone who is interested to read the original can look that one up too. I’m quite intrigued to read more from the author as well as from this particular culture and I hope my ignorance of it slowly wans away.
You can’t exactly rate epics, especially the ones lauded and applauded. It’s a no brainer 5 star read but I’ll have to pick up on Sudeepta’s verdict on the original!
Until next time!