The Country is Yours – Contemporary Nepali Literature

by SK

While in Nepal recently I was keen to find some Nepali literature. The Country is Yours is a collection translated into English by Manjushree Thapa and featuring stories and poems written in the period leading up to and after the re-establishment of democracy in 1990. The feeling is of renewed self-expression and the works cover not only the sense of emerging political freedom but also “more personal visions of transcendence”.

Thapa says in her introduction “This collection should be taken by those unfamiliar with Nepali literature, as an introduction to contemporary voices,” but stresses that “this book does not offer an authoritative overview of the literature of this period. It is, instead, a personal collection of works that moved me and compelled me to translate them.”

The book is divided into sections to cover the four themes: ‘The Perplexity of Living’; ‘The Right to Desire’; ‘The Imminent Liberation’ and ‘Visions’.

Here’s a poem from the second section by Benju Sharma:

Come

Spring
come
in the lips of tender buds
Come red and fiery
sprouting passion
on cheeks ripened by
the scarlet of rhododendrons
Make me soar
on the wings of horses
that whinny and neigh far above
the purple jacaranda trees
Binding me in the clasp
of velvety tips of green grass
slash through all these bars
with your sword
and seat me in a honeycomb
overflowing with
the elixir of bees
Set me on a dinghy
adrift on swelling waves,
and cover me with
the embrace of the entire sky
Tie me with the mighty limbs of
boughs and branches
A few outcroppings
you might have to level
A few craters
you might have to fill
So come
gathering the force of a bulldozer
Come as ferocious Bhairava*

(*the fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation.)

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