Shree Ram Singh Basnet

Published On: October 1, 2021 06:37 PM NPT By: Shree Ram Singh Basnet

Horizon of middle-class women explored in ‘Sampurna Aakash’

Horizon of middle-class women explored in ‘Sampurna Aakash’

As the storyteller Gyawali mentions in 'Kathako Katha’, the preface of her collection of stories, 'Sampurna Aakash' brings to the readers 25 of her stories published in Nagarik daily and Parivar monthly magazine.

The history of storytelling in the Nepali literature is more than two centuries old. However, the age of modern fiction started very late. The modern phase of Nepali fiction is believed to have started after the literary magazine 'Sharada', dedicated to the flourishing Nepali literature, published Guruprasad Mainali's 'Naso' in 1992 BS, during the Rana regime.

Most of the stories before that were based on religion, myth, folklore, fairy tales, etc. Therefore, when talking about the history of Nepali fiction; the story of Swasthani, the story of Pinas, the story of Panchatantra, etc. can also be included.  Moreover, Ramayana, Mahabharata, various Puranas have been an innumerable source of stories among the Nepali people for centuries.

Talking about Nepali fiction after the start of the modern stage, male as well as female storytellers have found their own minds and pens to enrich this genre.

With the recent political and social changes, women storytellers seem to be moving forward in a very encouraging manner. In 1992 BS, Sharada magazine published the story of Kumari Tushar Mallika's 'Striratna' which laid the foundation for women authors in modern Nepali storytelling.

That was followed by the works of authors such as Devkumari Thapa, Vidyadevi Dixit, Lokpriya Devi Joshi, Parijat, Prema Shah, Anita Tuladhar, Maya Thakuri, Padmavati Singh, Bhagirathi Shrestha, Chandrakala Newa, Hiranyakumari Pathak, Bhuvan Dhungana, Sita Pandey, Anvika Giri, Neelam Karki Niharika, Sharda Sharma and others in the journey of modern storytelling in Nepali literary fraternity.

The number of female authors has been growing in several genres of literature where fiction is one such genre. Women's education, enthusiastic participation in the field of literature and creation, women's activism in the field of fiction which has increased in the last three decades might be the reason behind it.

The latest addition to the list of Nepali female authors is Shobha Gyawali who has come to stand in the line of storytellers with 'Sampurna Aakash', a collection of 25 short stories.

As the storyteller Gyawali mentions in 'Kathako Katha’, the preface of her collection of stories, 'Sampurna Aakash' brings to the readers 25 of her stories published in Nagarik daily and Parivar monthly magazine.

While going through the first story of the book 'Pahilo Maya’ (First Love) to the last story 'Antim Nirnaya’ (Final Decision), it becomes clear that Gyawali’s work is based on social realism. She has told the stories in a simple and elegant style, revealing the experiences of women from middle-class Nepali families.

In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the stories are based on realistic experiences rather than hollow fantasies. Nevertheless, the stories presented can be called literary works of the contexts experienced, seen and heard by the narrator herself. These stories are today's stories, not yesterday's or tomorrow's, in the sense that they show the challenges and struggles of today’s middle-class Nepali women.

As Gyawali admits in the preface, these stories are not bound by any classical theory, formula or prescribed pattern of fiction. That is exactly what an author should follow. There are basically two principles or formulae that have to be followed in any kind of literary genre - story, poem, novel, essay etc. They are: the work should be interesting to the reader and it should not force the reader to leave reading in the middle and the writer's honesty.

Apart from these two, other details do not matter much in fiction. From this point of view, it seems natural for the narrator of 'Sampurna Aakash’ not to worry whether her stories fall within the classical principles and definitions of a story.

Whether the narrator is a man or a woman, there are two tendencies that are dominant while choosing women-centric themes for a strong story-- the sufferings of women in the past and their compulsion to endure oppression, their tolerance and, in today’s context, the challenges they have to face in society due to gender bias, among others.

The last thematic trend is also evident in ‘Sampurna Aakash’. The collection of stories is woven with the themes of ups and downs in love, caste discrimination, selfless social service, motivation for good deeds and so on.

Sentences like “A person’s happiness and peace double when s/he works to help others,” which is mentioned in the story ‘Sapana’ (Dream) can make anyone emotional.

A Muslim girl hiding a Hindu youth in her house during a Hindu-Muslim riot depicted in the story 'Niswartha Prem’ (Selfless Love) is very interesting. Similarly, ‘Tyag’ (Sacrifice) is a touching story based on the severity of cancer. If it falls into the hands of a skilled director, the story 'Red Rose' can be turned into a short film.

Even if the narrator calls herself an amateur, after reading all the stories of 'Sampurna Aakash', the reader will be compelled to feel that the storyteller has risen a step above the amateur category. However, it would be pertinent to mention some aspects that the narrator should keep in mind in the coming days. First of all, there must be continuity in story writing.

There are so many examples in Nepali literature where many talents become inactive after sometime. It is the wish of all the story-loving readers that the writing journey of a budding storyteller with a good potential should not be interrupted.

Second, the storyteller needs to diversify the stories. It is important to include the tears and laughter of not only the middle-class women but also the women of all classes. When is the most enjoyable time for a woman who crushes stones for a living? Similarly, how many layers of emotion are knotted in the heart of an old man waiting for death?

The case of an illiterate grandmother in a remote village too can be a subject for a story. Likewise, there is not a single story based on child psychology in the collection. Similarly, geographical diversity in a story too matters for good storytelling.  

The use of English or Hindi words in Nepali fiction should be minimal except in cases where the context of the story demands it. The fascinating picture at the beginning of each story contributes to generating curiosity in the readers. Facts such as when did storyteller Gyawali start writing stories and what was the first published story and when are missing in the book. These facts might not have value for the readers but for a critic, literary historian, etc it is valuable information. Finally, thanks to Manjari Publications for bringing out the work of a novice storyteller to the market.

Book: 'Sampurna Aakash'

Genre: Story

Author: Shobha Gyawali

Publisher: Manjari Publications

Page number: 232

Price: Rs 385/-


Leave A Comment