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Parijat (b. 1937) Parijat, the Nepali name for a species of jasmine with a special religious significance, is the pen name adopted by Bishnukumarl Waiba, a Tamang woman now resident in Kathmandu who has been hailed as one of the most innovative Nepali writers of recent years. The themes and philosophical outlook of her poems, novels, and stories are influenced by her Marxist and feminist views and her own personal circumstances: Parijat has suffered from a partial paralysis since her youth and has ventured from her home only rarely during the past twenty years. She is unmarried and childless, a status that is not usual for a woman in Nepalese society and that is due partly to her illness and partly, it seems, to personal preference. Despite her disability, Parijat is a formidable force in Nepali literature, and her flower-filled room in a house near BJilaju has become a kind of shrine for progressive Nepali writers. Parijat was born in Darjeeling in 1937, and her childhood was deeply unhappy. Her mother died while Parijat was still young, and an elder brother drowned shortly afterward. At the age of about thirteen, it seems that she became passionately involved in a love affair that ended in heartbreak and a period of intense depression. Parijat herself has described this as a "self-inflicted wound." In 1954, the family moved to Kathmandu , where Parijat completed a B.A. in 1958 and later completed an M.A. in English literature. Her father subsequently became mentally ill. Parijat's memoirs, which Subecll describes as "confessional and intimate" (f 978, 213), were serialized in Ruprekha (Outline) and a volume of reminiscences have recently appeared (Parijat 1988). In view of this background of tragedy and hardship, it isnot surprising that most of Parijat's writings evince an attitude of alienation, pessimism, and atheism. Parijat's first poem, entitled "Aspirations" (Akanksha), was published / / / 112 THK POK.TS OF NEPAL in 1953; a collection of poems with this title appeared some years later. In 1970, she announced that she would no longer write poetry,' and a second collection of poems from before 1970 appeared in 1987. During the 1970s, Parijat became better known as a novelist: her first novel, Shirishko Phul (The Mimosa Flower)'2 had already won the Madan Puraskar prize for fiction in 1965 and was wholly without precedent in Nepali literature. It tells the story of a retired soldier in middle age whose life is empty and lacking in purpose. Gradually, he develops a desperate infatuation with the sister of a drinking companion. This woman is the complete antithesis of the traditional Nepali heroine: she is cynical and sometimes cruel, she wears her hair cropped short, and she smokes continually . The psychological background to the story is the soldier's memory of his sexual exploitation of Burmese women during his military service. On only one occasion does he attempt to reveal his feelings to the woman, and shortly afterward she dies. The novel caused great controversy : some thought it decadent and vulgar; others praised it for its modernity. Parijat has published five novels since The Mimosa Flower, and since 1980 she has also written several new poems. These differ from her earlier poetry in that they are less personal and address social issues. Parijat's second collection of poems, the source of the selection translated here, is very highly regarded, although it does perhaps represent an earlier phase in her development as a writer. All these poems are written in the first person and are deeply subjective. Some of the earliest compositions, exemplified here by "Sweep Away" (Sohorerajdu),are simple lyrics tinged with a mysticism similar to that, of the chhdyavdd school of Hindi verse. Others, such as "To Gopalprasad Rimal's 'To—' ", (Gopdlprasdd Rimdlko "—Prati" Pratt), have political undertones (this particular poem should be read in conjunction with the poem referred to in its title, which also appears in this book). Parijat's political views are overtly leftist: in the early 1970s, she attempted (unsuccessfully, it turned out) to initiate a literary movement dubbed Ralphd (an apparently meaningless term) that would combine ideas drawn from existentialist thought with the values of Marxism. About her role as a writer, however, she is self-effacing: I consider literature to be the most important part of civilization. Without, literary development there can be no national development because literature is an inalienable part of the nation. . . . No, I do not. believe that 1. Baral in Parijat (1987, 2). In...


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