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Shankar Lamichhane (1928-1975) Lamichhane was born in Kathmandu but lived with an uncle in Banaras until he was eleven. After receiving some basic education at Trichandra College in the capital, he took his first job at the age of twenty-two and worked for a number of governmental and cultural institutions in Kathmandu . In his later years he became the manager of a handicrafts store. Lamichhane was an admirer of modern American fiction and frequently mixed with foreign visitors to Nepal. His stories are heavy with sym bolism, often lacking a conventional plot and more closely resembling essays, but his prose is rich, fluent, and mature. Most of Lamichhane's stories are collected in Gaunthaliko Gund (Swallow's Nest, 1968). THE HALF-CLOSED EYES OF THE BUDDHA AND THE SLOWLY SETTING SUN (ARDHAMUDIT NAYAN RA DUBNA LAGEKO CHAM) Oh guide, you do not,you cannot understand the joy we Westerners feel when we first, set foot upon the soil of your country!1 As the Dakota crosses the Four Passes,2 we see this green valley with its geometric fields, its earthen houses of red, yellow, and white. The scent of soil and mountains is in the air, arid there's an age-old peacefulness in the atmosphere. You were born amongst all of this, and so perhaps you feel that the embrace of these blue hills' outspread arms confines you. But we live in the plains or beside the sea. Our vision founders on an horizon of land or sea, and so we know the affection 1. An abridged version of (.his translation was published in Bazaar South Asian Arts Magazine (London), Spring 1988. 2. The Four Passes (Char Bhanjyang) is a name for the Kathmandu Valley. 253 with which the breast of these hills forever clings to your sight. You havenever had to suffer the feeling of insignificance that is caused by a vast distance. Perhaps we are always adrift in vastness, my friend; perhaps that is why this, your enclosure, appeals to us! Has it ever occurred to you that the half-closed eyes of the Buddha seem to welcome you, even at the airport?3 It is as if one acquires a calmness, as if one is returning once more to a resting place. You have always known only how to give to the West. You've given us religion arid the Puranas, images of brass and ornaments of ivory, manuscripts of palm leaves and inscriptions on copperplate. You gave us a civilization and its wisdom and garlands of jasmine flowers around our necks. You have continued in your giving, ignorant of what others call "taking," innocent of the notion of ownership. The very word indulgence is unknown to you. My friend, I know your history. Before I carne here I spent several years in our libraries, leafing through the pages of your priceless volumes. You are a guide who will lead me down the streets and alleyways of the present, but I could take you along your ancient ways. Even now I can see it clearly: the valley is filled with water, and a lotus flower blooms where Swyambhunath now stands. Manjushr! strikes with his sword at Chobhar.4 I see monks and nuns receiving alms and spreading the lawin the nooks and crannies of the Kasthamandapa.0 Behold the eyes of these shaven-headed monks. You cannot meet their gaze! It is called the samyak gaze. Do you know what that means? It is perception, pure and without contamination; sight that perceives everything in its true form. I'll have just one more drink before dinner. . . . You live in a house like a temple, but you are unaware of its beauty, its enchantment. In these wooden images, these multifarious ornamentations , these many styles, there is the flowing music of a chisel m the hands of an artist. Do you not feel it? Tell rne about those happy, prosperous young artists working in the fields all day and creating beautiful images of their personal deities in their spare lime, who are now covered by the dusts of the past. 3. The great dome-shaped Buddhist reliquaries known as stupas arc a striking feature of the Kathmandu Valley landscape. Onto many of these monuments there are painted a pair of enigmatic eyes. 4. In the remote geological past, the Kathmandu Valley was filled by a lake. A famous Buddhist legend says that a miraculous flume became manifest upon the surface of this lake, above the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780520910263
Related ISBN
9780520070486
MARC Record
OCLC
43476642
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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