A man of many brooks

Yuyutsu R D Sharma


Ours is a corrupt society. We even tend to bribe our gods to win favours…" reflects eminent Nepali fiction writer Parshu Pradhan on the corrupt policy of the nation. The most touching and turbulent day of Pradhan’s life remains the day when — about three decades ago — he topped the national-level Public Service Commission (PSC). But then a queer thing happened.

He got rejected in the final results because a police report from his village Bhojpur dubbed him as communist. “It was most nightmarish day of my life.” Fortunately after much hassle, the kind efforts of Krishna Bam Malla and Neer Bikram Pyasi made Parshu Pradhan join the civil services.

Three decades later Pradhan faced a similar predicament. Even after the advent of democracy, as under-secretary at PSC he had to face a similar senseless rejection to a time-bound promotion. To promote communal favouritism and party opportunism, the then democratic prime minister had sent a list of 16 candidates, which didn’t include Pradhan.

Unlike last time, this time Parshu Pradhan decided to quit his vain pursuit for justice in the blind alleys of a corrupt system. He resigned from his powerful post to settle as a full-time writer in a small border town, Biratnagar.

Like the title of his famous short story collection ‘Bakrarekha’ (the Curved Line), his creative career has never been smooth. He started his career as a poet writing community hymns in the name of deceased village folk, popularly known as ‘Ramayan Bhanne’ (Saying Ramayan) but later turned to fiction. He was educated at his village where his family owned a bookshop, which got burned in a fire stirred by a family feud in the neighbourhood.

“In Nepal, a writer has to lead a double life. He has to maintain a regular job to support his writing career.” Disgruntled with the semi-literate critics, Pradhan fears the risks of a Nepali author dying in oblivion. “Who knows a Nepali author, even in the neighbouring India or Bangladesh? In fact very few people in the world know where Nepal is.” In one of his stories, the villagers instead of asking for any favourable development project ask the authority to supply the insecticide to kill the insects which eat the nettle that they are forced to eat to survive. In another story ‘Dalle Khola’ he exposes the corrupt system that eats the funds aimed at constructing a bridge over a hillside brook. He brings to Nepali readers the secret sexual lives of the hillside characters, especially women, in his books. In ‘On Her return from Mela’, Parshu presents the emotional turmoil of a young woman who has been raped in the fair and returns home to face her family. In ‘Smell of Death in a Cup of Tea’ he displays the sexual upheaval that rocks a mother-daughter relationship as they long to run away with the same man.

In another story, the woman in a hillside tea cum wine shop throws her baby girl into the flooded river to flee with an army man who never returns. In ‘The Little Buddha in Tokyo’, a Nepali trekking porter living with a Japanese woman in Tokyo realises he has turned into a sexual slave. Being an administrator, Pradhan holds very strong views on the fate and functioning of Royal Nepal Academy. He seems to possess a complete solution, the final solution. “You first of all grab those who have misused authority. If I go there, my first task would be to bring those people before Commission for the Abuse of Authority (CIAA). “

In Pradhan’s view, corruption remains the chief issue. Several writers have taken huge amounts as advance on the basis of family or friendships and done nothing to serve Nepali literature. He envisages a Literary Development Bank which shall amass all the literary award and grant funds to make the distribution of resources meaningful.

Academy could lead such a fund. Similarly we could as the Ministry of Culture to help

us in collecting the Nepali books and distribute them to each Village Development Committee. “Those who keep exploiting Nepali authors with empty envelopes and fancy funds should be punished to make Nepali writing a prestigious place to work and survive.” — yuyutsurd@yahoo.com