Parul Sigdel

Published On: February 10, 2021 05:16 PM NPT By: Parul Sigdel

Sekuwa: An Engrossing Tale

Sekuwa: An Engrossing Tale

Photo Courtesy: Parul Sigdel

Although Nepali literature boasts several masterpieces that are known to all, it oftentimes falls short in catering to its younger audiences. Think of a story or a novel specifically for children and young adults that are local and is unanimously known across the country. There is hardly any. 

Having spent decades authoring fictional storybooks for children, Krishna Dip Sigdel has brought 'Sekuwa', a novel that can possibly take shape as a Nepali equivalent of the Aesop's Fables. The novel published by Sangri-La Books is dedicated to young adult readers following an enticing storyline entirely based in the animal kingdom. 

Sekuwa, a widely loved Nepalese style barbecued meat dish is the crux of the novel and it adheres closely to its titular name as the plot revolves around the planning of making a 'sekuwa'. The story based in a valley inhabited by animals allows an insight from their point of view of the world around them and eventually their quest of successfully preparing a sekuwa, previously unheard of by any of them. 

The names of the characters in the story are satirically funny and memorable such as Salbali Syal, Kharaaney Kharayo, Sahare Machho, Gujultey Gangato or Buzzy Mauri. The manner in which the story is written is easy to follow as the leading figure is an anonymous story organizer who permits each storytelling aspirant to take the plot forward with their respective point of view. Although the time line is linear, a reader is able to gather a variety of insights from each animal that opts to continue the story forward. 

While the primary goal for all the animals is to somehow prepare a sekuwa, the story subtly imparts knowledge regarding the inhabitants of the wild to its young readers. As several animals take turns in relaying the story ahead, each of theirs point of view allows an insight for readers to learn of their nature and habitats. The novel features a dragon as well, obsessed with the making of sekuwa and a primary character in the commencement as well as the ending of the fable. 

While most takeaways from this read are on the positive note, there however was something that fell short to the demands of the present times. There were a couple of female characters, but none of them were central figures taking the baton forward. Even the ones that did make an appearance were limited to stereotypical roles of dependent wives, limited to their homes taking care of their young ones. Increased feminine participation with vital roles could possibly resonate the story better to the young female readers.

This book indeed is a valuable gift to Nepalese young adult readers; however, there is a doubt that it might not be acceptable to all. The storytelling is subtle and out of the box type and yet it is not what our young adult readers are used to. Most of the books (only a few) available follow an easy frame of the storyline based on traditional and stereotype themes. The books with multiple experiments are not easy to digest. It might be a habit breaking book only if such books with creative ideas are published quite often.  

‘Sekuwa’, a 172 pages short novel, a must read for young adults takes a little while to take momentum but once it does, it will keep one engrossed. With the story cited entirely by animals, it allows a wider perspective in viewing the world from their eyes. The most crucial of them all is their collaborative efforts in the making of sekuwa in the forest. Their quest has begun, but will they be successful in making it?

Parul Sigdel is studying Master's in International Relation at Tribhuvan University.

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