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BhavanI Bhikshu (1914-1981) Bhikshu was born at Taullhava village in the Kapilvastu district of the Taral, but he spent much of his life in Kathmandu. He made his first appearance in Nepali literature with an essay on criticism, originally written in Hindi,that was translated into Nepali and published in Shdrada in 1936. His first story, "Mankind" (Mdnav), was published two years later, and he soon established a reputation as a poet. Bhikshu edited Shdrada lor several years after 1940,when the former editor, the poet Siddhicharan Shrcshtha, was jailed for his political opinions, and Bhikshu worked for the Royal Nepal Academy after its foundation in 1957. Bhikshu's life was not without its sadnesses: he had lost two wives, one of whom deserted him, by 1952.This might account for the innate pathos of many of his stories and for his long ruminations on the nature of love. Bhikshu's mother tongue was not Nepali but Awadhi, a dialect of Hindi, and he received his basic education in Hindi at Indore. His writings in Nepali are often criticized because his prose lacks the spontaneity of a mother-tongue writer, his sentences are sometimes awkwardly constructed , and his vocabulary tends to be somewhat grandiose. Nevertheless , his stories are regarded highly for their thoughtf ulncss and subtlety . Most have women as their central characters, and Nepali critics heap praise on Bhikshu lor his analyses of female psychology. I suggest that Bhikshu's most interesting stories are those such as "Winning and Losing" (Hdrjlt) that describe village life in the Taral and those that deal with topics from the Rana period. Bhikshu also authored twonovels. Bhikshu's stories are available in four collections: Gunakeshari (1953), Maiydsdheb (1960) (both named after the principal female characters of 206 BHAVANl BHIKSHU 207 particular stories), Avarta (Whirlpool, 1967), and Avantara (In the Middle , 1977). WILL HE EVER RETURN? (TYO PHERI PHARKALA?) The narrow hill path wasa difficult, strenuous, arduous trail that climbed higher and higher by degrees. Looking along it into the far distance, you could see nothing to make you think that you had seen a man. The sun god1 had hidden his face behind the mountains in the west, but his blush spread up to the dark hills' summits. The streams still sang their continual song, uninterested in and indifferent to the anxieties of the world. The dim half-light was meandering into darkness. A traveler was on his way up from the plains. As San!2 stood in the doorway of her house, one foot upon the staircase of maturity,he asked her, "Can I get lodgings here tonight?" "I don't know; you'll have to ask Mother." "Mother? I don't know who your mother is or where to find her. Show me whom to ask." "Mother! Mother!" a sharp sweet voice from a shapely throat echoed around the hills, but nobody came in response. She waited for a moment; then she said, "Wait, I'll fetch her," and she went off. After a while she returned with an elderly woman. "Here, this is my mother. Where are your porters?" "I've only one porter, and he's old and slow. That's why I have to stop here, though I'd hoped to reach Chitlang today. I know some of the shopkeepers there; I'd have found good lodgings. This is a liquor shop, isn't it?" "It is. . . ," the old woman replied with a mixture of surprise and disdain. "So what if it is?" SanI said quickly. "It would be the same at Chitlang, you know. And our side room is clean." "Well," asked the old woman, "will you have a drink and something to eat?" "I'll have a meal, but I won't take any drink. I have my own pots and utensils with me."3 Sam leaned over and put her face close to her mother's. "Why mother, he'll buy rice, lentils, oil and firewood, salt, spice, vegetables. . . . 11 he cooks in the next room and sleeps in the side room, that will be fine." 1. The sun is identified with the Hindu deity Surya, or Siirje. 2. Sam is a pet name meaning "little girl." 3. The traveler's caste status is apparently too high for him to aeeept food from anyone but aBrahman. 208 SKLKCTKD SHORT STORIES "May I see the room? Just to see that it's clean. If it's not . . ." "Why shouldn't it he? Take a look...


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