Revival of the oppressed literature

Published on Jan 12 2010 // Commentary
By I. P. Adhikari

Creations see no bounds, no borders. Geography, politics, bureaucracy or many other restrictions that human being and nature created can act just the feeblest resistance to creations. Even the end of civilization cannot end the literature.

One of the reasons of eviction Nepali-speakers in early 1990 was our endeavour to widen the scope of Nepali language, Nepali culture in that tiny Himalayan kingdom. Since culture forms the basic ingredient for literary creations which in turn bring waves of renaissance, it was obvious on part of the Druk regime to carve out strategies to limit expansion of Nepali literature.

The early years of settlement as refugees in Nepal, under misery forming sky as the roof, cramped literary talents of the suppressed and oppressed Bhutanese community in exile. The formation of Nepali Bhasa Parishad, Bhuta, (later renamed as Nepali Sahitya Parishad) and its followers injected emotions, enthusiasm, love and above all greater attachment to Nepali literature among Bhutanese exiles.

Technical backwardness and financial constraints were major causes behind lack of accelerated progress in Nepali literature in the exile Bhutanese community. Very few publications born but fade out to vain and others lost battle of survival in the span of nearly two decades in exile. The empty bellies, naked bodies and absence of a good platform ruled the society and thus squeezed the creative talents within huts to shut up their imaginations.

The resettlement and subsequent exposure to technology has opened up doors for the show. The older generation might face it tough to adjust but a array of youngsters is on the battlefield to revive the fading image of Bhutanese literature. An example to this front is the bhutaneseliterature.com, operated from Norway. Few years back, writers preferred publishing books and were reluctant to the call for online publications. I personally experienced ignorance or ‘no response’ from many new talents or leading littérateurs of the community when I called them to contribute their creations to start a literary site. It was certainly a lack of exposure and knowledge of the impact that internet superhighway has in modern society.

Ramesh Gautam, one of the founders of the forum

Ramesh Gautam, one of the founders of the forum

However, it is good beginning that Bhutanese Literature is doing at this hour. Under the loose network, the founders of the forum – Dona Acharya, Ramesh Gautam, Rup Narayan Pokhrel, Sanchaman Khaling and Yati raj Ajnabee – see the rays of hope at the end of the tunnel. The early responses are overwhelming and encouraging.

“BL aims at being a global platform for literature from Bhutan, for writers, readers and the lovers of literature,” says Ramesh Gautam.

The forum has the challenges as well. With similar sentiments and same stories the resettled Bhutanese are obvious to join this movement. The tough would be – how will it bridge gap created among Nepali speakers of Bhutan and those living in exile, during the last two decades. The founders say, they hope things will change with time.

In my conversation with many Nepali speakers in Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, Paro, Gelephu and other southern districts, I learnt that status of Nepali language is far below than we can imagine in Bhutan. A whole set of new generation perfectly does not know how to read Nepali. Nepali as a language in Bhutan has just turned like a dialect – people speak but it has no script. The yarn for learning Nepali language may take some years as love for English has ever grown to apex, being the only communicable language in this multi-lingual country.

Bhutan Literature will face tough time to get connected with Bhutanese Nepalis in Bhutanese – and getting literary creations from them would be a tedious travel. The sustainability of BL as pure Bhutanese literature site will be determined by the response it gets from within Bhutan.

“Bhutanese Literature now hopes to transform itself into a FOUNDATION which will eventually function well for the promotion of literature. We hope to work for the preservation of language and culture too. We need to remember that the children growing in abroad may soon forget the language; the children who are born there will be learning no Nepali if we don’t take initiative to take care of it. In a long run BL too will try to reach it,” they say.

In essence, BL anticipate contributing in other language – English and Dzongkha, the other two prominent languages spoken in the country. Tshangla without any script obvious will be left out of the forum.

“We have been publishing the articles on the two languages and we hope to start it in Dzongkha once we have someone to work for,” Gautam said.

“English articles should be good options to be accepted from inside Bhutan but we expect that we should work for Nepali language there too. Road map is not ready.”

Literature has germinated beyond borders and is well fed in primary phase. But it is the need of the hour that it takes extraordinary efforts to inject love for literature inside Bhutan and keep itself as a pure Bhutanese literature promotion forum.