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Parashu Pradhan (b. 1943) Parashu Pradhan was born in Bhojpur district and gained an M.A. in Nepali literature and politics. He began to write short stories in 1962 and has also published two novels. Pradhan's main themes are social contradictions and human relations, and he is admired for the poetic and symbolistic quality of his prose. Recently, he has begun to include foreigners, particularly Americans, in his stories, but he has been accused of trying to depict a society of which he has little knowledge. Pradhan remains a significant and original Nepali writer, however, and is perhaps somewhat underrated by his peers. Pradhan's stories are collected in six volumes: Vakrarekha (Curved Line, 1968), Pheri Akraman (Another Attack , 1968), Yauta Arko Dantyakathd (Another Folktale, 1971), Asambaddh (Disjointed, 1975), Samudramd Aslaune Surya (The Setting Sun on the Sea, 1978), and Parashu Pradhdnkd Pratimdhi Kathdharu (Representative Stories of Parashu Pradhan, 1984). THE TELEGRAM ON THE TABLE (TKBALMATHIKO TYAS AKASHVAN1) Once more he read the telegram that lay on the table. Or rather, his eyes went along its lines once again. He suddenly felt happy, although he knew that he was very tired. All day he had been out relating the entire history of the country to tourists and answering their multicolored questions. Now it seemed that some life had returned to his flagging ambitions. He smiled. A tragedy like this should have made him weep. But none of it touched him at all. It. felt as ordinary as his everyday life: getting up at dawn, hurriedly rinsing out his mouth, pulling on jacket 284 I'ARASHU PRADHAN 285 and trousers, tying a knot in his tie, then smiling at strange faces as if he knew them well. A few days before he had met a friend, one of his best friends from his village, who had also corne to the city and become trapped in some menial job. This friend knew about his tragic event and had uttered words of sympathy: "I am very sorry, Krishna. You have my heartfelt sympathy." But this sympathy had not touched him at all. It had seemed meant for someone else. To observe convention, he had smiled nonetheless and simply said, "Thank you." That telegram had been lying there for weeks. He always came home from the hotel in the middle of the night, and he was always tired like this. He would have been caught by a pair of blue eyes or immersed in Western music. His eyes always shone when he looked at the telegram. Perhaps he had needed to receive it before he could really achieve what he aimed for. Now that he had received it, perhaps he was happy. Very, very happy indeed. He had always tried to speak English since he was a child. He had dreamed in English and considered English his all. It had brought him a new wave of happiness. Now he explained the culture and customs in his own way:how the kumariwas chosen, how the kumariwas worshipped, what the horse festival was like.1 He thought of the foreigners staring straight at him and of Judiths and Jennies amazed by his words. His life was most enjoyable. Often he dreamed of New York skyscrapers and awoke from his dreams amazed by the Goddess of Liberty there. Or else he would imagine lying beside the ocean, playing a tape of Nepali folk songs. Sometimes he dreamed sentimentally; then he became practical again. For it was quite certain that one day Krishna would follow a tourist girl far across the skies. Unfamiliar voices were calling him from distant lands. "Come to us just once," they seemed to be saying. "We will be your guides. We will welcome you. We love you." But then there was that telegram, which he would rather not have received. It took him back to earlier times and forced him to think about things he would prefer not. to consider. The person it concerned had never meant much to him. He had never felt the need to pay much attention to her. He still lived in the city, just as he had ten years before, trying to make his seedling dreams grow. The telegram should have made him weep, but it didn't. He should have felt regret, but he didn't. He should have fasted for a while, but he didn't. That telegram should 1. The human is the so-called living goddess of Kathrnandu. The horse f'eslival (ghodejatra...


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