HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Going abroad to earn a decent living leaving behind one’s family is painful. Moreover, with the burden of debt, there is always a feeling of hope to be able to clear the debts mixed with the anxiety of living in a new land with unknown people.
And what is next — if the hopes and dreams are scattered and the burden of debts increases? Obviously that person’s family is going to live in a living hell. Poverty hounds them like a mad dog and humiliation at the hands of people of so-called high class and posts, and only death becomes the ultimate source of peace.
In a similar vein and the emotional roller coaster ride of a family living in a rural area, Khagendra Sangraula’s novel Phulmaya tells the story of Phulmaya’s struggle in a society full of hypocrites.
The female protagonist Phulmaya is living with her 14-year-old son Chature and eight-year-old daughter Nepti. Her husband Ganjha Bahadur Gurung has gone to earn money in some foreign land. Phulmaya struggles hard for survival and for a space for herself and her family in the
The author has created a world of rural Nepal where Phulmaya sells alcohol for a living. Meanwhile, due to the debt incurred, her family has to leave their home where characters like Sahu Kancha and Pradhan Baje from aristocratic families ruin her family life.
Sangraula has been able to capture the small details of feelings and emotions. The feelings of Nepti and Chature’s anger towards Sahu Kancha and his family members is depicted very naturally in the book. The cowardliness of Ganjha Bahadur and the high self-esteem of Phulmaya moves the story ahead.
However, the flow of story tends to be missing when Ganjha Bahadur returns to the village. And the author has completely avoided the characters like Nepti and Chature where you would like to know about their situation.
The main character Phulmaya’s identity is not as strong as the author has tried to portray where her morality shifts here and there. And it seems like the author just wants to end his story in a hurry.
In a few parts, the spellings are misplaced and the climax of the story is not as captivating as the start of the novel. Overall, the book can give glimpses of life of a family living in poverty and the setting of a rural area.