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Indra Bahadur Rai (b. 1928) Rai is one of the most original and influential Nepali writers to have appeared in recent years. His earliest stories, collected in Bipana Katipaya (So Many Waking Moments, 1960), were written in a naturalistic style. The second collection—Kalhaslhd (The Faith of Stories)—showed a dramatic change of approach and philosophy, as Rai formulated the views on literature that became the basis of the Tesro Ayam movement. Kathasthd is divided into two sections: "Katha" (Stories) and "Astha" (Faith), in which Rai propounded his dimensionalist philosophy, beginning: "Let us write totality; let us live totality." These stories were written in a style that was new in Nepali literature, and they displayed a completely novel attitude to plot, verb tense, and time. Much use was made of the language of modern and abstract art. "The Journey of a Thought" (Eutd Vichdrko Ydtrdpath); "Black-out, Cashew Nuts, My Son" (Black-out, Kdjubadam, Chord); and "The Ordinariness of a Day" (Eutd Dinko Sdrndnyatd) are story titles from Kathdsthd that suggest the unorthodox nature of Ral's work. Rai is also a respected critic in a literature that is short of authoritative and objective commentators , and in 1964 he published an important novel, Today There's A Show (Aja Ramitd Cha). Ral's stories are published in two collections: Bipana Katipaya (1960) and Kathdsthd (1971). MAINA'S MOTHER IS JUST LIKE US (HAMl JASTAI MAINAKI AMA) Waking a bundle of greens and lifting it from where it lies sleeping on the asphalt, then hugging it as if it is his wife, a customer asks, "How much for these greens?" 260 "Those are 6 paisa." Injustice cries out, surrounding the man's self-interest with rage: he still remembers living in the forests, where it was possible to get them for nothing. "They've turned yellow," he suggested (if they had, he would have rejected them immediately),and then he walkedaway. Maina's mother sat and waited for another customer. "No point living in Darjeeling now," a man is saying. "Everyone here is looking for work. If you've studied, it gets you nowhere. We can't get enough to eat living here. When we came there were very few people, but now many more have come and our numbers have increased. There's not even enough grass for our animals. We should move somewhere else. The rains don't fall here anymore; the trees are bare. We should look for a new place. By sunset tomorrow we should be gone, with our women, our children, and all our belongings loaded into ox carts. Put strong young men at the front and the rear. Drive the livestock gently. We should walk until evening, then lodge for the night. When we are a hundred miles away we'll decide where we are headed." "Over the hills to Assam. We should move to the northeast." "Meet some of the people who came here later. Tell them the Nepalis came and set up a branch here many ages ago, a small town called Darjeeling. They've already found signs of very ancient settlements. For a hundred years or more they forgot themselves in this little toy town. Its little roads, little machines, little houses are the proof. There was very little to support them, so they became wanderers, scattered through the great land of India. Bunched together, they would all have died. The time had passed when they could have moved and advanced their civilization: their immediate needs were what forced them to abandon their homes." "Yes, we should move somewhere new." Maina's mother was sprinkling water over her greens. If thoroughly drenched, their leaves would stay fresh; the cold spring water would make them last longer. Everything might be saved. But there is no water. She covered the body of the bundles with a small grimy cloth. "You're back?" she asked the woman who stood there now. "Are they sold?" she looked at the sleeping greens. "How much has been sold?" "I haven't sold any." "Oh! I shouldn't have tried to sell them here! I could have sold them easily somewhere else." The woman came tired from an age-long distance . She sat right down on the ground. INDRA BAHADUR RAI 261 "Give me the few pennies yon have. My baby's lather is sick at. home. I don't know if he's dead or alive." She stood up abruptly, suddenly fearful. From here, you can see water...


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