Gorkha Imagined: Indra Bahadhur Rai in Translation

Author: Dweep Subba / Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Gorkha Imagined: Indra Bahadhur Rai in Translation

Gorkha Imagined: Indra Bahadhur Rai in Translation, edited by Prem Poddar & Anmole Prasad and published by Mukti Prakashan, Kalimpong is a translated book from Nepali to English with short stories and Essays by Indra Bahadhur Rai. The book is unique as the stories contained in it have the supremacy to quench the thirst of every reader for the theme applied is Universal in approach. There are a total of ten collected short stories and Essay collected from his major works. Indra Bahadhur Rai, a successful Darjeeling born Nepali author, a leading Nepali Literati and the one to have forged the “Ayamik Lekhan” (the Dimensionist Movement of which Rai was the forerunner) saw his works at times come under controversy. “From the Introductory section, In short IB’s project is to infect Nepali literature with the intellectual incomprehensibility of his mentors such as Derrida, Lacan and Baudillard and put Nepali Literature out of reach of ordinary readers”. Besides, Literature and writer grow with the critical evaluation by the critics/audience. Rai portrays the identity of Gurkha in most of his work with the usage of theme/subjects like Refugee, Asylum seekers, migrant and many more related subjects. In this book, the readers will find problems of Gurkha Identity its various crossroads of civilization, political affairs and identity.
Furthermore, Prem Poddar in his Introduction provides a synopsis to the readers on the usage of thematic and stylistic characteristics as used by Rai in most of his works. His insightful overture provides a briefing of all the stories and Essays and gives a much insightful view of the book which will add an added dosage to the readers. Some of the short stories and Essay in the book are Jarr: Euta Bhayekai Katha, Ghosh Babu, Ratbhari Huri Chalyo, Kheer, Jaimaya Aphumatra Likhapani Aipugi and Pahar Ra Khola etc.

The first in the book and a very widely renowned story amongst Nepali populace “Jarr” (Adulterer) has a somewhat Shakespearian outlook, the story revolves around three characters Thuli (meaning eldest daughter), Rudraman and Harshajit. Thuli loves Rudraman, a Gurkha lieutenant but she is not able to marry him due to familial pressure and marries her paternal cousin Harshajit. After the marriage is done and half of her marriage life is lived, Rudraman again appears and tires to whip Thuli but he is caught and taken in the Village court. The inborn controversy in the story and the chivalry at the last of the story by Rudraman transforms the ferocious enmity into miteri (Fictive). The other story in the book entitled as “Ghosh Babu” translated equivalently by Michael Hutt portrays shades of Irony by presenting a Bengali drycleaner resident in Darjeeling. Moreover, the story gives a dimensional view of Darjeeling as it unfolds in its narrative. “Kheer” (a Nepali rice pudding) is a story full of allegory emphasizing on the importance and safeguard of Values and Wisdom along with the unique Gurkha Identity, Culture and Tradition that is in the brink of diminishment. “Jaimaya Aphumatra Likhapani Aipugi” (Jaimaya alone arrived at Likhapani) exposes the aftermath problems faced by diasporas Gurkha. The sad story is about the Gurkha family left in Burma ad their pathetic journey towards their once abandoned homeland with equally exigent and challenging situations. At last, Jaimaya alone arrives at Likhapani near Assam leaving back her memoirs in the native land and in the hollow pathways. Moreover the other stories in the book are also full of Gurkha ethos portraying Universal theme and motif.

“Nepali is the major language in Nepal but a minor one in India”. Nepali is one of the 22nd officially recognized languages included in the Indian Literary language approved by the Sahitya Akademi.  The Essay in the Book deals with India as a sovereign state giving respect to each and every religion and languages. The need to understand the churning issue of ethno nationalism is vividly described with much broader approach. The uneven development of the country and the differentiation among the classes, language is also very well defined in the translated version. 
The translators of the book Lt. Dorjee Tshering Lepcha, Amole Prasad and Michael Hutt are to be commended for their work (translation) as their vocation enthralls each and every corner of the Gurkha society by their equivalent writing skill and henceforth Mukti Prakshan of Kalimpong in making the book available to the global audience. The Book “Gorkha Imagined: Indra Bahadhur Rai in Translation” is available in various book stores all around the world, all you need to do is visit some of it.


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