I have roamed this lockdown with An Endless Journey, by celebrated poet Bhisma Upreti, beautifully translated in English by famous critic Mahesh Poudel, which is a recently published novel by Brosis Publisher and distributors New Delhi. Now, I would like to take you the journey of western Nepal. Let us fasten our seat belt to travel with Upreti’s endless journey. The writer takes us on his journey of Western part of Nepal. He unfolds the hypocrisy of development and the serene interconnection with beautiful lands and people’s life-style. This is a travel description condensed with: poverty, social discriminations, the hardship of hilly people etc. Writer navigates his journey with the poetic melody, hypnotizing readers along with his extraordinary explanations of places, incidents, cultures, traditions, foods and socio-economic conditions. Writer’s magical story-telling style traps the reader until the end.
The sudden shift of his job to Nepalgunj begins the journey. The writer’s mind swirls in imagination about the western part of Nepal. Centering on Nepalgunj his journey of western parts of Nepal vivifies the reality. His imagination starts the journey and takes to Nepaljung. Soon after he takes readers to the most famous lake of Karnali ‘Rara’ the detail explanations of the journey attracts readers to be glued with his journey. Wherever he travels he communicates with unknown strangers as if he knows for years, which helps to comprehend the local social economic situations. As Russian philosopher Mikhail Baktin believed, the dialogism of characters in novels creates the truth. In An Endless Joureny, the dialogues of writers to the common people wherever he goes brews up the foundation to guess the reality. Writer imagines and sometimes interviews and sometimes simply talks with people, whoever he encounters during his journey. The encounter with local people with organic questions left readers with many unanswered questions. The writer do not bring the conversations into concrete conclusion in a judgmental way rather he leaves readers to think. This art of writer hooks the reader into a book and tempts them to turn the pages.
Originally, the writer as a poet also seems in the voyage of hunting poetry. Wherever he arrives in virgin land he arrests the poetry from there. Sometimes, I feel jealous with writer that being from Karnali I have not traveled and written poetry of my homeland. But, as he belongs to the Eastern part of Nepal, he has hunted poetry form Karnali as the first visitor of the highland takes the best Yarchagumba. He contemplates into nature’s beauty and the difficulties with the people of western part of Nepal, but paints the beautiful poetry of hope. In other words he nestles in the people and places and sings the original song as he bemuses with organic inner and outer conversations. Somewhere he melts, somewhere he spills…but continues to unfold the journey of truth. During his journey he seems a disguised detective.
He bundles the story as he encounters the incidents and explains beautifully, the story of fourteen years girl Noor Jahan… and her suicide can melt everyone’s heart. He describes the incidents but reader can easily understand the underlined fragile socio-economic spectrum of country.
As we know, Nepal is multicultural, multireligious country, writer describes such multicultural city of Nepalgunj, where the Muslim community and other many religions work harmoniously. He tries to dissolve and learn the dynamic of Nepalgunj and the border city India, Rupaidiya Similarly, he opens the secret of Urdhu literary practice in Nepalgunj.
Writer beautifully depicts the trail of Yarsagumba. How rural people struggle for this Himalayas rare caterpillar fungus. His conversations with common people of highlands people and their innocent like baby responses lead to readers in contemplation. Their unhesitating answers and the writer’s pauses are the mystery of this journey. The book is a story of western Nepal, wherever he goes, he talks with people and brings their story as organic as they are. The reader can enjoy every story and their backgrounds. He takes the reader to all the beautiful places of western part of Nepal and explains how lively the place and people are. As Plato reminds that intellectuality means the capacity of understanding. This writer’s quick understanding of the temperament of rural people and the easy adjustment with them punctures the silence of every place. Readers also need the same capacity to travel and comprehend the hidden messages of writer’s journey.
As the novel unfurls the new places readers can encounter many strange cultures and their struggle in society. As an example, the Badi people and their tradition and suffering attracts readers to know more about them. Therefore, throughout the novel the writer do not just explain the geography of places writer shows keen interest in the people of the places and their daily life.
There are some limitations that writer should have described history and facts when he reaches the new places. And it can be juicier if writer explained the journey chronologically with date. Beside those, the writer explains beautifully the western Nepal, he laughs, cries and enjoys with people more than that his simplicity magically snatches the untold stories of people. Which is the main strength of writer. Writer’s interest and his capacity makes this journey adventurous as well as full of secrets of the west which are painted well in this journey. This compelling travel novel also anticipates unnoticed the political quagmire of Nepal and its consequences in common people. It is a bunch of secrets that he collects during his stay in Nepalgunj. Moreover, he experiences our untouched historical land of Nepal-Karnali where still the culture, language, food, pain and suffering are the same. His dramatic explanation also retakes me, my own hometown in this lockdown as I always miss my place. Two hundred thirty six pages beautifully designed and scripted book is easily available, do not forget to travel with writer’s unending journey.
Rupsingh Bhandari is a social activist, poet, translator writes in Nepali, English, Hindi based on Kathamandu form Dailekh, Karnali