सिपाहि (A soldier) was my first book that introduced me to Nepali Literature. That was year 11 (1997). Before that I kept me self in complete dark with my assumption that I am in no capability of understanding the words of literature. The only book in Nepali language was Mahendra Mala in school rest was in English. I was taught English Grammar since UKG but I learnt Nepali grammar when I got to class 8 and class 9-10 were intense with grammar and more in writing too which pissed me off for not being able to cope with it. They did introduce history and grammar in year 4 but all in vain. The course was scrapped; it was too much for us to handle instead we got social studies and moral science which was more or less science and the other being stories with moral values. And little did I care as I was completely soaked by English language and its literature.
I could read and was reading volumes and volumes of book and newspaper on English but couldn’t understand a word of Nepali. I could read but I couldn’t get the message across my head. I tried and tried but nothing to my avail. Then I came across my few personalities who taught me Nepali literature and lend me books to read and explained me the content when I got agitated with the contents. I started reading magazines and newspapers and underline the words I didn’t understand and they would happily explain it to me. I was progressing but in a very very very very very slow pace but they weren’t exhausted instead horror-struck with the level of my understanding of my Nepali language.
सिपाहि was our textbook for year 11 and it was an absolute delight. Then I went to book store and bought some books without knowing the author and what was book about but only thing that I was conscious was the thickness of it. The book has to be the size of around सिपाहि-soldier book which I thought was easy to understand. After reading 20 or more of those size books then I went for newspaper and thicker book but I was in despair and disgust with my limitation of my own language. Then I was able to differentiate between reading stories and actual non-fiction.
In school we had a new curriculum in year 4 that we have to study History but the book came late as it was to be printed by “Sajha Prakashan” which is owned by government. So as usual it didn’t arrive in time. We probably have waited 3-4 moths. After that what I see is the disaster the book was thicker than Mahendra Mala and the text were smaller and the images were in black and white. Too many names and dates and places when I didn’t even knew my own date of birth. I was memorizing the name and dates and places of history which I obviously failed to do as something new came up Bikram Sambath. Before then it was one date 1989AD. But now I have AD, BD, and Bikram Sambath and whole new 12 months. And weird expression for AD and BD in Nepali which I still don’t understand. I was driving myself crazy just to understand why can’t we just have one. As we started with Jan to Dec why not print the book after you convert the dates in English. Why this torment at this tender age of 9. We never cared for this all these years (year 1 to 3).
But my introduction to सिपाहि-soldier on year 11 really thrilled me of my society and people. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of my surrounding but I was in my own world of Hollywood and Shakespeare and MTV, little did I care for the rest as I was having a good time with all those that I had.
I had a perception that the whole world not just the world but the damn galaxy knew about Nepal and their sons and their history as I knew about the world by BBC or through the books that were taught in school. But on my arrival to Australia in 2001 it pushed me back for their backwardness and limitation when they have no idea what and where Nepal is. And few those who knew were aware of the massacre of royals and nothing more. What a terrible state I was in. I thought everyone knew about the Gurkha and what they did in WWI and WWII. To my most amazement Australians celebrate Anzac day on the honor of their lost soldiers in Gallipoli but no mention of Gurkha’s deeds.
But to my horror this is not the end; our beloved neighbor who talks so much about us being brother in arms is the worst. In 1975 King Birendra proposed Nepal to be recognized internationally as a zone of peace. It has won the support of 112 nations but New Delhi is numb in this issue which it thinks contradicts with 1950 treaty and a way of nonalignment with India. What ??????????????. India that became India, Pakistan and then later Bangladesh doesn’t have a positive relation when they are the sons of same mother. And we being the total stranger just because we are Hindu we got to align with them more then there step sons (Pakistan and Bangladesh). Thukka(=spit) Nepali neta(=politician) ko buddhi(=knowledge).The neighbor who wouldn’t support you. Now this made me seriously think about my understanding of the world and the world’s conception on Nepal and Nepali.
Life was still moving on but I was in no peace. How on earth can we Nepalese in Nepal think the world knows about us; what Gurkha did, about the Mt. Everest, and Buddha. But here I was totally losing my sanity; none of them knew; neither cared and more to that I was in disarray as I didn’t knew if I was to cry or laugh when the Buddhist around the world can’t say what Buddhism is about and who and where was Buddha from. They simply didn’t care. Their response was I don’t’ know; I just follow Buddhism but how could you. Is the whole world kidding me?
Now I vowed me self to let the world know about the Nepal and Nepalese. I was struggling in school just differentiate me self from Indians. I am not Indian but Nepali and have my own language and culture and custom; same was the case at work. But the hard part was the Indians to convince. There plain belief as we are Hindus and able to understand them we are same. Since when did religion belong to a country? It is for those who believe in it. Christianity doesn’t belong to America. English doesn’t belong to England neither being Christian is being American and knowing English is being English. Is everyone speaking English from England? What a confined thought.
I was then on the internet and bookstore reading the history. I was engaged in the books of history then I was ever throughout my school life back home. I was arguing with everyone on religion, language, history and individuality, sovereignty. The more I learn the more I argued the more frustrated I was; never knew why I was exhausted.
My consciousness then was my sole intension to make people understand Nepal and their culture and people. But people with restricted mind who were unable to accept or regard any new incomings or anything that contradicted there assumption and knowing they would then simply ignore or make themselves unheard as their only defense to keep themselves out of controversy or simply thinking their knowledge and understanding is better and is at its best then me telling them who is just too young to lecture them.
I was always interested in my culture and history of country since my childhood but I wanted the books to be in English as of my limitation with the Nepali language. I had no hope of passing then so called Iron Gate of our life just because of Mahendra Mala but luckily I did and I always tried to keep my distance from those texts but now I find meself more bound to it more than anything else. Internet was a good source but the writer were westerns who had incomplete understand of Nepal and its citizens in whole. They knew the part which was enough for them to draw the picture as a complete. But I was not satisfied.
As I was surfing the internet I came across the book named “Nepal ko AAlochanathmak Ittash” नेपालको आलोचनात्मक ईतिहास . I asked my parents to send me that book and when I started reading that book something caught me and still can’t get that out of my head. It was on Prologue(well that’s what I think its titled प्राक्कथन) where writer writes “words put down by the foreign writers on Nepal and its history is more of a fiction and he feels guilty and wrote this book to pay the tribute to the milk that mother Nepal provided him when he was young”. What a thought; blew me out, more than that he hints “the true lover of ‘Nepal and its history’ and a ‘student of history’ should read a book by Nepali writer who was born here and have seen and been with every single aspect of the life”. He will be the one who will understand your soil, your smell, your thirst and your hunger in person and not in perception. He is same as you. It’s not you have to be fellow citizen to understand that but in the context of Nepal I think it helps being us so in-rooted in culture and tradition and we were in harmony with “chaar jaat and chatish barna”( चार जात ३६ बर्ण) . He even goes further saying “individuals interested in history needs to understand the basic principles and philosophy and boundaries of it.”(इतिहासका जिज्ञासुहरुले इतिहासको आधारभूत सिध्दान्त, दर्शन र परिधिको राम्ररी अध्ययन गर्नु पर्छ।)
Since then I have been constantly reading books by Nepali writer obviously I have to convert the date and time in English before I could get the vision of time and space but I don’t mind that now as I have no choice as writers don’t care about my disability of understanding on single reading. Nor can they satisfy every single reader. Hence I don’t mind and am getting used to it by means of learning the unknown words but never complaining.
I have stretched my reading not only limited to history but back to literature again though I struggle. I have to read the same line again and again and there is no guarantee that I will understand. But I keep trying. Then again I hate the printing mistakes as it’s already too tough for me and the printing mistakes just make me intolerable. It could be the structure of sentence as we have subject + verb + object in English and subject + object + verb in Nepali grammar which is sufficient enough to complicate things, and on top of that just add the few names that I can’t spell and places I can’t read and recognize that will hit the boiling point in me.
I hope there is a someway that I could just quickly learn to read and understand every bit of it but at the moment I read and leave the word which I don’t understand and they comprise of 90% of text. Currently I am reading “What is Hindusim?” It’s written by इडि. विश्वनाथन् and translate in Nepali by Pusparaj. I don’t believe he did a good job on this neither understands the translator job. It’s just one of those written in a hurry just to get it published and earn a bit with full print mistakes. Some of the texts just don’t make any sense. In the same line he changes the name of a person and again accepts something been said by “A” and denies on the next. It is a nightmare for me. Now I’ve made another vow never to read Translated version and have a good look if it’s translated version. Damn the way it’s written; hard to pronounce. The name and places written in Nepali is harder for me; as to the difference of pronunciation which alters the way it is written in Nepali and English; which takes me a while to convince myself that this is what he actually meant. Here I could be wrong and could be right. A doubt which never leaves until I finish the book sometimes even after its completion.
The only reason I am reading book is that I’ve got a fair bit of idea on religion of the world and their philosophy and principles but my own that I am so proud and boast of being Hindu knows no more than the word like the Buddhist that I have met here who are all Asians. I am happy to know things through this book but the output that I am getting is too less, which compares to nothing; regards to the content it contains.
With all my experience now I could say is that we need to have our history, culture and religion lessons taught in school in true and meaningful way but the irony is it’s not a Hindu kingdom/country anymore. Hence you teach one than rest will go unrest.
Peace with all. God Bless