Few critics would dispute the understanding that all literature is symptomatic of, and responsive to, historical conditions of repression and recuperation.
In Postcolonial TheoryAs I sit to write preface to these poems entitled Voices from the Margin, my memory takes me back to the days of March 21-23, 2006 when the 7th World Poetry Day organized by the Sikkim Akademi in collaboration with the Poets’ Foundation, Kolkata, was being observed at Gangtok. The participating poets were listed under the names of the States they represented, and the names of the poets from Darjeeling & Dooars who write in Nepali, were found inserted into the long list of Bengali speaking poets from West Bengal. I wished that the Nepali speaking poets from Darjeeling & Dooars were listed separately.
Despite our belief that the poets and all those related with aesthetic art are not confined to the national, racial and religious boundary, their respective cultural base and distinctive flavour of their soil cannot be brushed aside. Our being universal in thinking cannot altogether sever us from our roots. Even when one is uprooted, the pain of his lost cultural root remains in one form or the other in his/her consciousness or subconscious.
In the concluding session of the three-day long celebration of the World Poetry Day in the Chintan Bhavan at Gangtok, I, presenting valedictory address, had given vent to my opinion in the following words:
“.. Now I would like to point out that the poets from the state of West Bengal participating in this VII World Poetry Day are the representatives of two language groups – one, writing in Bengali, and the other in Nepali. Each group has its own socio-cultural milieu that, of course, has the influence upon their writing. The latter concentrated mostly in Darjeeling district and Dooars in Jalpaiguri district has ever been in its peculiar socio-political conflicts that have profound impact upon the psyche of this group and often finds expressions in its writing in some way or other. Even after India became free from the British colonization in 1947, many ethnic minority groups still remained ‘colonized’, now within the states governed by larger and much powerful group. Nepali speaking ethnic group in West Bengal and elsewhere is one such that has never been free from the feeling of being colonized. It feels to have been subjected to the ‘colonization’ of various forms – political, educational, economic, cultural etc. The constant feeling of being haunted by the spectre of uncertainty and insecurity has, time and again, given rise to the need of asserting and articulating its identity in the national perspective. Although the feeling related to the identity crisis has played a significant role in our poetry, a larger chunk of our modern and contemporary poetry is the images of life lived by man in pre/post cold-war.”
In this expression the two points that have come up in sharp relief are – i) colonization, and ii) identity crisis. In between these two the issue of marginalization raises its head itself. When the world, with the end of colonial era, has long been in its post-colonial phase, talking about colonization may sound somewhat discordant in larger perspective. But while many of the formerly colonized countries in Asia and Africa are now under the shadow of neo-colonialism, clanking shackles of internal colonization are also heard loud in many countries of the world. Internal colonization prevails when, within the country, a stronger and powerful community thrusts its domination through hegemony – political, economic, cultural and educational – upon the weaker but distinctive one who has its own distinct historical base, thereby depriving it of cultural identity. This condition is as much unsavoury as that under the foreign colonial rule. But a living race or culture keeps fighting for its survival. Those too meek to put up fight will certainly be annihilated and effaced. This is the common law of nature. Today, arriving at the turn of this prolonged struggle we are determined to redeem our suppressed history just as Manipuri, Mizo and Khasi did. We have the story of our own cultural existence, and no hegemonic interpretation as that of the Orientalist eyes can find the heartbeat of this story. We are with the story and the story is with us. Like the pre-historic mythology. One will have nothing if one is bereft of own story. You don’t have anything if you don’t have the stories.
- Leslie Marmon Silko They want to distort and destroy our story or blanket it with an overwhelming noise rendering us weak with no story. Let me quote the lines from Silko’s Ceremony that speak of the White Euro-American’s exploitation of the ancient Red Indian tradition and culture –
Their evil is mighty but it can’t stand up to our stories. So they try to destroy the stories let the stories be confused or forgotten. They would like that They would be happy Because we would be defenseless then. The oppressed culture has to rescue its history and cultural story. And quite firm is our story without which we shall have no ground to stand on. Constant attempt has ever been there to dislodge us from our story. However, the Teesta of our story never goes dry; it flows on and on. It, after every struggle, wakes up with even more brightened eyes and emerges again with the expanded chest of yet firmer conviction. Like an unmatched combination of Nepali topi and dhoti, Darjeeling hills along with the Terai at their feet were (almost accidentally) attached to the State of Bengal and the relationship between this Region and the State is always that of ‘them’ and ‘us’. The latter always treating the former as inferior, keeps a distance. There has seldom been a harmonious relationship of one family between the two. This is what commonly happens between colonizers and colonized. Partho Chatterji, in regard to the western colonizers, observed that the only civil society that the government could recognize was theirs; colonized subjects could never be its equal members. Adds Leela Gandhi to it-“In this case, racial difference, much as sexual difference, becomes synonymous with political difference.” We are here as colonized subject deprived of the right of family member, or distanced ‘they’ whose ‘racial difference.. becomes synonymous with political difference’. If this incompatible relationship is viewed through feminism (and also through Freudian psychoanalysis) we see that colonizer has always placed the colonized below him like a woman to be enjoyed and the former with zealous masculine attitude places himself above. Now this myth built in his consciousness and subconscious has to be demolished. Today when postcolonial current is strong with globalization of culture and history, we are desperately struggling to emancipate ourselves from the internal colonization. We are as much influenced by the postcolonialism as we are drawn to ourselves by the self-feeling grown from the disgust for the internal colonialism. So to say, we are revolving in between the two opposite forces – centripetal and centrifugal. In spite of the effort to be postcolonial in our consciousness while rejecting the colonial centrality, our today too, as our yesterday, is nailed on the same centrality where lies the design to establish their lordship by making us subaltern for all time. Colonizers refuse to believe in or recognize the ability and talent of the colonized. This is why an intellectual in Calcutta, in reference to Ramsing Thakuri, a famous Gorkha composer of dozens of patriotic songs in Hindi/Urdu, had once questioned if the martial Gorkha also could possess the subtle musical sense. Hierarchical division between ruler and ruled is noticed even in language and literature. At this moment Macaulay’s infamous comment comes to mind – A single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. It is not unlikely that our hubristic internal colonizers, too, may come upon us in similar vein. It is worth noting that in Bengal the government civil servants from the ruled community are supposed to compulsorily learn Bengali language whereas those from the ruling community, when posted in the Nepali language dominated region need not learn Nepali. If they showed any interest to learn workable Nepali they are awarded with special allowance which is denied to the officers from Nepali ethnic group for their passing Bengali language test. Driven by the ruler’s prejudice, colonizer usually determines the fate of the colonized. ‘They cannot represent themselves, they should be represented’, says the former in relation to the latter. Thus, in various national and international fields and fora the colonized community is seldom given opportunity to represent itself. To be marginalized and insecure in one’s own land is what we call being colonized. However, our brethrens in the neighbouring state of Sikkim have never been through such unpalatable situation. Theirs is the different story as regards their past and present. Yet they too are not free from being the victim of marginalization and the perennial crisis of identity. Sikkimese Nepalis, politically well secure during Chhogyal’s regime, were attempted to be made derelict when their legislative seats were constitutionally scrapped after Sikkim was annexed to Indian Union. It was only the certificates of their being Sikkim-subject obtained during the previous regime saved their (our) story written centuries ago. The well-thought out constitutional scrapping of the seats reserved for Sikkimese Nepalis seems not only to marginalize but to uproot them altogether. Had the descendants of the Gorkha (Limbu & Magar) chiefs who ruled over the western part of Sikkim (Darjeeling hills included) long before the Chhogyal dynasty emerged, been uprooted from the present Sikkim, would Gorkhas of Darjeeling hills remain safe? The Sikkimese Nepalis comprising 70% of the total population of the then Sikkim were instrumental in uprising against the last Chhogyal, thereby making this Himalayan kingdom the 22nd state of India, and in reward the native Gorkhas were deprived of their constitutional safe-guard. Today it is only for their overwhelming majority that has helped them attain certain leverage in the state. There are painful sagas of the Gorkhas being driven out of their homes in the North Eastern states. Before persecution, begins a process of marginalization. Gorkhas have repeatedly been pushed to the brink everywhere in the country. Their contributions towards the freedom struggle of the country have been ignored in the history. Always kept away from the national mainstream, they are usually prevented from being their own representative. National media turn blind eye and deaf ear towards their scream. And they are alienated in one way or other. All this they suffer in the land of their own. With a view to enfeeble the regional strength of a particular ethnic group in a provincial level demographic liquidation is designed or electoral delimitation is carried out against the will of the people of the region. Gorkha community of Darjeeling-Dooars has become the victim of such design way back in the seventies of the last century. How a few seats of Sikkimese Gorkhas reserved in the State Council of the Chhogyal were later annulled by the Indian Government has already been cited above. But the ethnic feeling is too formidable to be weakened by any political division. In the mind of each lives the image of their communion, says Benedict Anderson. The culture of the oppressed group, kept all the time away from the national stage, is very often thought of little value. It is not given any space to show itself as a distinct colour in the band of rainbow of cultural mainstream. Each culture has its own distinctive flavour and beauty which could be truly felt by none other than the one from the same cultural group. Others may be incapable of seeing it in its right perspective or may not be able to feel its soul, its heart-beat. So, the other’s interpretation may only be intellectual rather than that felt with heart. As culture bears the identifying face of a race, hegemonist adopts many ways and means to deface it or to keep it aside under the murky shadow. Another weapon used by colonizers in the process of expansion of their hegemony is education. Textual invasion as it is called. In the British colonial era the mentality that regarded English education to be the only canon of being educated was built up. Today postcolonial critics say that the colonial student bent to learn by heart the chosen paragraphs and stanzas from English literature is in fact bowing to the secret principle of spiritual and political compulsion. Nepali speaking people in this region feel to have gained selfconfidence when they pick up the skill of speaking their ‘rulers’ language. (This is only natural as being ‘subject’ to them.) Many of the fiction writers in Darjeeling Hills and Dooars depicted broken Nepali speaking Bengali as doctor treating the Hill peoрle as patients whose roles in the fictions would be of petty contractors, work assistants and coolies while engineers and higher officers would be from the рlains with the languages other than Neрali. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest Caliban (the colonized) answers back to Miranda, (the colonizer), in the language he was forced to learn: You taught me language, and my profit on’t/ Is, I know how to curse. In the very language of the colonizer he airs his protest against the grabbing of his land. But we have yet to absorb our “colonizers’” language in this region as English language has been absorbed and used to vehemently criticize the former colonizers in the countries like India, Africa, Trinidad Jamaica and the like. This argument may be summed up with the notion that the marginalization is the foulest game suffered by any ethnic life and sometimes by a nation. How has the Indian Gorkha ethnic group managed to save itself from the foul wind that pushes it to the edge from where it may any moment be given a final dash? Its remaining very alive is just because of its unwavering will to live, undaunted spirit of struggle and the consciousness of its being a distinct race. ‘..The struggle for selfhood is much more than the subject of self-reflexive irony’, as E. Boehmer says. Now a few words in the context of national identity, the term which is preferred here to ethnic or cultural identity as because the question of national identity has, time and again, stung the Nepali speaking Indians who, in India, are often labeled as immigrants and in the eyes of Nepal Nepalese diaspora while they call themselves Indians and nothing else but Indians. What is Indianness ? Is it Aryan-Dravid feature or a concept? Appearance or a deep feeling? Just an idea or an ideal? Of course, Indianness is a concept above the feature; a feeling rather than appearance; not just an idea but an ideal. But is the present reality of Indianness really so? To the so-called mainstream Indians, the Gorkhas, most of who are of Mongoloid feature are some other nationals but Indian. At most, they are popularly thought to be Bhutias. The ethnic Gorkha community in Sikkim, constituting two-third of the total population of the state, is almost invisible to the eyes of mainstream Indians. Moreover, when the nationality of even the Sikkimese Chief Minister of Gorkha origin is questioned and his effigy is burnt, what will be the fate of other common Gorkhas? The identity of the overwhelming native Gorkha majority in the Darjeeling Hills has also been put behind the side-wings. On the stage appear some others. This crisis is more acute and recurrent in the North-Eastern states. But the Mongoloid featured Mizo, Khasi, Naga, Manipuris are unaffected by such question of national identity as they are well secure in their respective self-ruled states. Those multitudes sneaking into Bengal from across the border of Bangladesh easily get assimilated with the locals. They are helped to do so by their look-alike feature and complexion and the language which also help them put the garb of Indianness whereas the stateless Gorkhas who became the citizens of this great country from the day when considerably large tract of land inhabited by them were ceded to India in 1816, are always watched only through the specs of Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty-1950. This is how they are painfully hooked with the question of nationality. The attainment of the constitutional recognition of Nepali language also could not resolve this question. Thus, the Indian Gorkha living with the consciousness that has ever been nurtured by pure Indian sentiment has been cast aside on the shore of deprivation and irony. The experiences and feelings received from what has been brought here into discussion from the beginning till now have laid onus upon us to give them living shapes in our contemporary literature. Voices From the Margin is a small step towards that direction. * In Indian Nepali literature there have been many poets and fiction writers who have made this ethnic suffering their subject. However, most of the poets and authors of the mid-twentieth century were basically dominated by their romantic fervour. Their poetic works on this subject are replete with nostalgia, sentimentality to the point of being maudlin, yearning for remote past, angst and agony. They lacked the spirit to squarely deal with the harsh reality. Theirs was the tendency to wash their agony with tears, and turn towards their past heroes for solace. Among the poets in whom the Indian Gorkhas’ psychological as well as physical torments found utterance, Agamsingh Giri always stands tall. In verily romantic form his poems are thoroughly saturated with Nepali ethnic sentiments which later culminated in his semi epic poem “Yuddha ra Yoddha”(1970). A decade later Yuddhabir Rana in his Chihan Napaeka Takmaharu (Derelict Medals) poured his emotions over the agonizing plight of the Gorkhas in the Northeastern part of India. Many poems with similar theme appeared during the sixties and seventies of the last century. But these works, as said in the preceding paragraph, were overburdened with sentimentality and nostalgia, defeatism and despondency. Moreover, due to the fact that the time was yet to fully escape from the diasporic tendency, the identityconsciousness was still vague. Despite the Indian Nationality taking root in the Nepali speaking Gorkha consciousness decades before India attained independence, why our litterateurs, till late sixties, were sick with diasporic feelings is an interesting matter for research. Behind this lay perhaps the then widely prevalent trait of romanticism in writing which, to a considerable extent, may be held responsible for being so. Tendency to escape the hard and tormenting reality and yearn for remote past or ‘.. a land at once strange and familiar where the heart finds itself at home..’ is also an element of romanticism. In the words of Leguis and Cazamian : The obsession of distant centuries is the attraction of strong modes of feeling of which the collective memory has preserved a confused recollection. Giri often turned to a distant past to get warmth of the glory of his community. He would frequently be drawn towards his ancestral land that to him was ‘at once strange and familiar’ as the one in fantasy. Yuddhabir Rana’s emotional response to the nightmarish reality was also no more than a romantic escapism. Even in the realistic novel Aaja Ramita Chha by Indrabahadur Rai, a Titan in Nepali literature, the protagonist Janak expresses his dualistic loyalty in these words: ‘We, the Nepalis of Darjeeling, are trusted by both India and Nepal; both the countries wish to win our loyalty.’ Swing of such dual loyalty swung for a long time. But the same Janak, a little later, has said,” We, the Nepalis of Darjeeling, inseparable from the land of Darjeeling just like its trees and streams, being in the waves of history, have arrived from one point of geography to the other belonging now to one and now to the other. Today if anyone asks these Uttis and pine trees, this Rungdung khola and this frail stream ‘Where do you belong to?’ the answer will be ‘I belong to where now I stand.’ “ Why only the Nepalis of Darjeeling, we may add, but also the Nepalis of Dehradun, Bhaksu and their contiguous regions became Indian along with the land they have been inhabiting for centuries. The process of bringing within Indian boundary of a strip of land called Dooars, previously the parts of Sikkim and Bhutan, and the home of Nepali speaking Gorkhas, was completed as late as 1865. When Indrabahadur Rai’s Janak says “ Darjeeling is ours and we are of Darjeeling” and the poet Giri sings “What’s the meaning of life if lived oblivious of love of soil/ I have endless love for my Darjeeling, the queen of hill”, this ethnic feeling thus locally expressed seems far inadequate. However, it is true that, though Ananda Singh Thapa from Dehradun raised for the first time the demand for constitutional recognition of Nepali language way back in 1956, Darjeeling has, from the very beginning, been the centre for all the intellectual, political and cultural activities of Indian Nepalis.
It is worth noting that our freedom fighters who were in close contact with Mahatma Gandhi as well as with Subhaschandra Bose, were completely unambiguous as regards their Indian nationality that inspired them to sacrifice their all in the national liberation movement. They were decades ahead of our poets and writers in regard to their nationality. Today the history of their sacrifice is stretched over our head as a blissful shed.
It was only when the Nepali language movement for its constitutional recognition grew in gravity in the seventies followed by the agitation for the statehood in the eighties, poetry charged with political-cultural consciousness began to appear. Divorced from the predecessors’ romantic attitude, poems of this period set the characteristic trend of Indian Nepali poetry that voices the distinctive ethos and aspiration, beliefs and vision of the Indian Gorkhas. Instead of escaping into the past, the poets’ eyes now started to stare at the stark reality. In the late seventies poet Khadgasingh Rai ‘Kaada’ in his poem ‘Patriotism In Me’ voiced his grim discontent in a deliberate prosaic style – My Indianness Struggling in the midst of injustice and ignorance ………. I wish My speech could reach you – Of the right That enables me to be agile In sovereign India O my country! The right to love you. Agonised and impatient at being pushed off as an unwanted, a powerful modern poet like ‘Kanda’ had to speak about the right to love one’s country in an unpoetic style. Similarly, another distinguished modern poet Norden Rumba had blurted in a simple and straight manner – If you remain the ruler we shall not accept, Yet we’ll not fall apart One voice, one demand, our land.
- We Are Not Demanding the Sky It was this time when the poets consciously came forward speaking out against the oppression that ever forced them to live on the bank of deprivation. The cruel reality the ethnic Gorkha has long been subjected to, of being colonized, marginalized and alienated, has yet to find its dignified place as a distinctive form of writing in Indian Nepali literature. Black literature of African-American Negro has a long tradition. Litterateurs of Red Indian origin like Silko creates in literature the heart-beat of her own culture that has been fractured from centuries of colonization. In our own country Dalit literature has its own theoretical basis. In relation to Indian nationality we too have our own socio-political-cultural ground. How clearly visible is this ground in the writing of Indian Nepali literature? Is the material not enough to make it stand as a distinct aspect of our literature? Being over-enthusiastic to stride along the world literature, we might have drifted away from our own ground. While influenced by others, why should we not strive to create something of our own that could draw others’ attention? It is not that one should remain confined to the parochial or regional interests, but rather one’s regional identity should be made known far beyond the regional periphery. We can go global while remaining local. In this way we can go with the portmanteau term ‘glocal’. Yeats brought alive in his poetry the Irish folklore, myth and Celtic culture. So fresh was his poetry with these elements that the European readers were strangely attracted to it. Echoing his nationalism Yeats once wrote that one’s verses should hold, as in a mirror, the colours of one’s own climate and scenery in their right proportion. Collecting ancient myths and folklores whereupon the Irish national stage was to be built up Yeats once said in a poem: John Synge, I and Gregory Augusta thought That all we did, all that we said or sang Must come from contact with the soil. Today, with the postmodern view rejecting centralism and giving space to heterogeneous ideas, cultures, colours, what Yeats thought a century ago has still the same relevance. The marginalized culture like ours should have been focused in such a manner in the national firmament. * Derek Walcot has expressed his postcolonial experience of rediscovering his cultural identity – The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome
Love After Love Yes, the time comes today when we greet ourselves. We who have long been indifferent have started loving ourselves. The long march of our struggle for identity, though intermittent, sometimes swallowed by wild weeds and again giving a call to courageous steps, has arrived at this point of time today. The issue is more of cultural countenance than of political purpose. However, both are complementary to each other. Most of our racial life is being spent in the struggle to make ourselves stand firmly. But how profoundly have we imbibed the painful experiences we have ever been through? And why have we not been able to make it stand as one of the perspectives of our Indian Nepali literature? Or are we conditioned to this perpetual struggle? Conditioned state of mind floats on surface and makes us indifferent. This may be the reason that in the Indian Nepali literature this particular area has been left almost untilled, except a few scratches here and there. This waste area must be tilled with all profundity and sincerity. The reality such as being colonized within one’s own land after being free from one colonizer, remaining unheard and unseen, marginalized and being alienated in want of identity establishment cannot be depicted with the language of sentimentality, nor can be comprehended in emotional outburst, nor can be reflected in tear-drops. This type of language seems to have ruled for long. Its shadow and echo are still there. The modernist language of high art too has become aged and less acceptable today. The language that strengthens itself by centralizing emotions and thoughts is almost hegemonic. Real essence of a modern poem is to be discovered deep down under the exotic layers of myths, symbols and unusual imageries. Owing to its elitist nature, modernist poetry turned away from common readers. Even the matter of common relevance was given an uncommon look by its high art of eliticism. To evolve art out of informal, casual and unrhetorical language is the poetic need today. To keep art vibrant in the simple receptivity of poetry is a challenging poetic task. Elliot’s elitist idea of poetry for handful of readers is not acceptable to both the contemporary poet and reader. We are in the age that cannot at all afford to be exclusive. What the poet had in mind while writing poem can not be imposed upon the readers as its final meaning. A text today invites creative participation of different readers. So, a text must be for a larger community of readers. And similarly, the language commonly spoken by them is expected in such writing. To present directly what the poem has to say, without rhetoric, in an unsophisticated manner – is the responsibility borne by the contemporary poetry. A simple object of aesthetic that lies deceptively underneath, not readily seen, demands a careful observation and participation. It is not that imagery and symbols be banished, but their employment as the exoticism is something detestable, or they must not be dragged into poetry with force. Symbols in poetry are welcome so long as they become poetry themselves. Abundance of imagery may also stifle the ingenuousness of a poem. An image wrought out of sweat may even sound farfetched. A belief that powerful poems can be composed in plain language too is to stand more firmly. These are some of the points that have guided us while writing the poems in this book for which the perennial suffering shared by all Gorkhas of this country has been taken up as the sole subject. Some other issues could be made the subject of our poetry here, but the suffering that has been haunting this community for more than a century appears to be of more significance and relevance than any other issues at present. It is of course not only the Gorkhas who have found themselves in such a swampy condition. There are many such racial or ethnic groups in the world who, like us, being colonized, marginalized and alienated in their own lands, have been struggling, agitating for their respective identity. Conscious of such realities, we have endeavoured to express our agonies with postcolonial as well as contemporaneous poetic concepts.
Poetry, however, as I have said earlier somewhere, dwells not in the things said but in how they are said. Many have written, and are still writing, on the subject we have taken up here. But very few are there to have contemporaneous consciousness in writing.
Contemporary writing is not possible without having contemporaneity reflected in one’s view. If one, without getting stuck to a particular point of time and space, does not keep renewing oneself every morning, s/he will soon be left behind in the constant flux of time. And one’s sense of perception may gradually become distanced from the changed value of the time and the expression of it in the same overused tone would not rouse much interest in the new enthusiasts. Those writing under the influence of their immediate predecessors may not be able to hold the hand of time brushing past them. In writing time-consciousness is all the more important. In this age of no certainty of centre the need to be free even from Free Verse, now become conventional, is being felt. The moment we think of a poem, lines of various length placed one after another appear before our eyes. Shall we ever be free from such conventionalized form of poetry? You grasp the Khukuri but you count not the heads of the vultures who come to peck the roof of your house.
A Serious Matter of Name (Remika Thapa)
Making the lines long, medium or short in length in a poem has a purpose, of course. As far as the poems in this collection are concerned, in some lines several words are made to run together in a single line in order to give the effect of intensity and sharpness of the irony contained in them, and in some the expression imaging the caravan marching along the long road and the one giving impression of the people being pushed to the edge in the process of marginalization are visible. Let us now, for our observation, take two lines from the third poem of this anthology – In history orphans were called illicit embryos left by some bastards. The word ‘History’ is placed on top of the other words as to suggest its being above the common folks. History has, most often, been the story of the rulers and upper class. History is the high stage where the rulers play and those down below seldom reach it. A long line from the poem A Talk of Self in Part II, attempts at pictorial expression: Thundering sound of God knows what marching on the main street Modernist and high modernist gave their voice to something deep, profound and absurd which are now replaced with momentariness or presentness. Play of moments is depicted today. The reality that has been haunting us for ages is also placed on the palm of momentariness for us to observe. Concerned with here and now, today’s poetry finds its power in curt and stark expression of intense feelings stirred by the various atmospheres that have impact upon the moments of our life and living in the present. All the play is performed in the flow of moments. Past takes its seat behind side-wings. Dream is there, of course, but it appears to be with the wings clipped and walks with its hand holding a corner of the shirt of the time present. The poems presented here in this volume are from the contemporary consciousness lived collectively by the Gorkhas in India. And distinctly audible footsteps of their persistent dream are also echoed in them. But ‘What happens to a dream deferred?’- asks Langston Hughes and unrolls these questions to look for a possible answer – Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore – And then run? Does it stink like the rotten meat? … … … Maybe it just sags Like a heavy load, Or does it explode? The concluding question of the poem may impel our selfhood to rise again and again, and the prominent larynx of Indian Nepali poetry will remain alive and active. And we, with Maya Angelou, would be singing again – Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise ….. ….. ….. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise A SERIOUS MATTER OF NAMEI am one hundred percent Remika Thapabut those who understand think me ‘else’.This else has defamed my name.That’s not enough for meto be ‘I’ or myselfI have to be a strong proof to be understood by others,Why are these slow witted amidst those who sit to know?And why are those who sit to know?Who are they who ask sitting in the middle?I’m to give answer only to what is askedI’m to explain upto what they want.I’m to clarify only upto what they wishMy testimonials to be decided by the ken of their loreand I ‘m to be decided as ever failed?When shall I be on the line of those who ask?When am I to debate?When should I put in order my thoughts?The system that allows not to sew a torn vestbeware! to be naked is not allowed.The media has a different schedule of global nudity ,rather you put on embroidered banner of your mastersuch strange fusion will be preserved in the museumand each moment puzzle game of emphaticexistence will be played with you!You bear the burden of the country but you areallowed not to lift the twig of your existence,you bear the brunt of warbut you are not allowed to prop your facewith your own palms.You talk but never raise the issue,you dream but choose not certitude.You grasp the khukuribut you count not the heads of the vultures who come to peckthe roof of your house.Who, sitting in the centre, has decided this, eh?Since when will the debate on my name in The draft of the budget commence?Since when in the name of democracy,standing on the line of ‘others’,they will discuss for a national verdict to come?
- Remika ThapaSUBALTERN’S HEADCan the subaltern speak? Gayatri SpivakThey want to keep my head ever pressedunder the heavy subaltern helmet.Is there sky or no skyabove the helmet?Subaltern should not know.Command mounts over my shoulderswhipping my consciousnessunaccountably.Can the subaltern draw out from the depth of his chestthe voice to command?Ah! Subaltern’s salute!How smart! How delicious!Those saluted are proud.But…what is it?Sticking through the stout helmetgreen grass-leaves are out today.Suppressed for years under ironThe grass of conscience refusing to dieis now caressing its share of the sky.I’ll hurl this helmet forthwith.My sky has descendedTo affectionately fondle my head.
- Manprasad Subba.