Review: Gorkhas Imagined

A recent book Gorkhas Imagined: I.B. Rai in Translation (Mukti Prakashan, Kalimpong) fulfills the long felt need of not only providing authoritative translations of some of this celebrated Nepali writer’s stories and essays (including the famous ‘Pahar ra Kholaharu’) but also contextualises the socio-political milieu of the Eastern Himalayas. In the critical introduction to the book by the critic Prem Poddar the actual practice of translation is related to theory and form as well as to the conflagrant issue of political representation and identity (i. e. Gorkhaland) currently enkindling this neck of the woods and hills. Graphic sketches add yet another dimension to the narratives verbalising the ethos and ethnos of Gorkhaness. The book is edited by Prem Poddar and Anmole Prasad and has stories translated by Michael Hutt, D.T. Lepcha and Anmole Prasad.


We leave you with excerpts from this celebrated writer’s wonderful work which most of us can now read! (As mentioned in the quote above these stories and essays have been translated to English from Nepali)

From  ‘The ordinariness of a day’

“Renuka’s mother died yesterday.” I spoke again, “When it is time to take the body out of the house, how the children scream and wail. I am disraught by it.” I brooded and paused.

“Of course the children will cry.” Maya said.

“On such a day, the children cry hard. The husband bears everything as though unperturbed. But the children begin to forget the very next day and grow more cheerful with each passing day. Later they even forget to cry because life, bearing all its bundles of expectation and desire has gone on and waits for them ahead. But that husband who did not cry yesterday, remembers his wife tonight when some strange hand serves him rice: when he prepares to sleep, he remembers her. In the morning it comes to him suddenly that she’s not there; he remembers her as he works outside; he remembers her after he goes into the house and sits down. Like this, he starts suddenly over and over again, until he dies.

Then I added, “He stays alive now only because of life’s compulsions.”

From ‘Light’

The sun climbs up, the black mountain is defeated, and the rays of light spread far. After that there is day: bright long day. When the lamp is put out, a little evening comes once more, and there is a sunset. Sudden light and sudden darkness do not have this gradual quality. They lack its spetacle, its prayerfulness and its meaning; they are not poetic. The first does not make one feel that one is coming to life, the other does not show us the end of our journey.


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