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Is Nepal Small?

2013, Jan 12
This is my attempt to translate Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s “Ke Nepal Sano Chha?” (के नेपाल सानो छ?). Originally published in blogger.

Nepal!

Beautiful, serene, big!

I wrote one day myself. Where the ‘big’ came from, I cannot explain.

Petite she is, but paradise. Exiguous, but an eye. And unique she is, but a world in herself.

Open a map of the world and take a look at the quantity of Nepal. Like a tiny drop, it appears to have simply disappeared in a vast ocean. This small mountainous spot looks like a tiny closet amidst the hills. There may be several countries and countrymen that have not even heard her name. She is interested in concealing herself rather than exposing the little lovely patch of the globe which is like a green capital of peace. She loves solitude. Instead of sweating to join the bedlam of this world, she adores river banks and mountains of knowledge and wisdom. Although curious about modernity, she is a worshipper of antiquity. Having played hide and seek until today, she yearns to dream of the golden dawns of past. Petite she is, but paradise. Exiguous, but an eye. And unique she is, but a world in herself. Distant is the divine magic of distance. There are only a few that have discovered this heartland because she is hiding deep in the bosom of mountains.

Diamonds are small. Pearls and gems are small. An innocent child is small. The pupil of the eye is small. The spark at the core of the heart is, in fact, smaller than everything else. Although just a dot in the face of this earth, she is infused with almighty just like the dot in Ohm. What is small? What is big? If stars are said to be big in this world, they appear like fireflies in the boundless sky. If grains of sand are said to be small, science and modern instruments are revealing the glitz and magic of the universe in a single grain. There are two ways of defining big and small - material and spiritual. I am amused when someone tells me other countries are bigger than Nepal, just like when someone tells me elephants are bigger than humans. I do not consider a field to be big based on the volume of soil but only by its quality, productivity, and emotional intimacy. To me Kalidash’s Sakuntala is superior to all the books ingested by Lord Macale of the British Museum.

The tendency to search for pride in artificial imitation shows we harvest the inferiority complex of a teenage boy.

“Read Nepalese? Our young writers toil hard to write junk!” some arrogant anglophile pompously announces. Even though I do not have the liberty of weeping, I look at the imitated hypocrisy of such men with pity. May the sun never set on the English language, but in Nepalese words I find the delight that one finds in the welcoming mild zephyr and sweet aroma of Nepalese woods and the coo of cuckoo upon returning from the sweltering heat of abroad. Simple, emotional, grammar-breaking-heart-touching natural poetry of Nepalese hills is more gratifying to me than the imagination of Shakespeare, Milton, and Goethe. I do not care for Waltz but I have a desire to make a small abode in the corner of the hills and listen to a folk song from a singer who, like the cuckoo, shows up only infrequently. How much the others have belittled us? We attempt to show off by over-accentuating stress of the imitated languages. But the nature has given us pleasing vocal organs that can never be reproduced by anybody with a flawed attitude. There is something about the English language and tone that is rough on the hearts, something that is out of tune and produces noise. The tendency to search for pride in artificial imitation shows we harvest the inferiority complex of a teenage boy. People praise other languages, but I prefer the natural vernacular of the blue hills, a melodious language infiltrated with waterfalls, words infused with the sheen of mountains, Elysian diacritics, alphabets that soar and speak with birds. My dialect may not be very widespread, but it is the cascade of my deity.

Small, sweet, serene, redolent, nonpareil! For me that is Nepal. Wagner shovels here. Shakespeare probably ploughs. Titian and Turner herd sheep while Socrates might be ruminating in a cave. Kalidash ceaselessly sings to celebrate harvest, Sandow carries firewood to my place, and in my forests Hellen Kellers sing songs. Several Savitris are here whose tales are unknown to the world. So much literature is unwritten here, and will remain unwritten. How many hearts these days would understand the natural philosophy of brooks? Would they in Kantipur not know about the golden sunrise here? Do tiny birds in the sky of heart not sing of flowers? These drops of love condensing inside me that are like the sky-capturing dew drops on rose petals - are these small?

Men look at other men as men here. In civilized countries, men look at other men the way a predator looks at another.

If there is a land that indulges one in peaceful fluid emotional state of innocent infancy that is capable of producing truly cultivated feelings and continuously invoking divine feelings in one’s heart, it is Nepal. The waves of the cobweb of civilization cannot operate in a polluted atmosphere here. Ample novel discoveries and its magic, the Nepalese heart, as an effect of the Nepalese environment and diet, produce truly pure feelings and are alive with sophisticated dreams here. I could never find emotional innocence and simplicity in other countries. Men look at other men as men here. In civilized countries, men look at other men the way a predator looks at another. Who is not Nepalese and adores impersonation does not love simplicity. Children of the hills bask in satisfaction, peeved heads of plains seethe in envy. Where Nepalese vision sees deity, others see pebble. Where the native heart sees divinity in nature and jumps with joy, the foreign ones only investigate the labyrinth of science. The glimpse of god is scattered everywhere here. Truth cannot be found in the darkness of logic. Wisdom is more precious than science. Men do not see the vanity in discovering superfluous laws with the use of blind equipments and comprehension. The ones condescending superstition overlook the irrationality of their own conviction. But oh Nepalese heart, what in this world could be more beautiful, calm, and spirited than you?

Where I found life, I find everything. There my soul opened its eyes and awoke for the spectacle of the magic of human life. There I see the entirety of the world. I know of no beauty that I do not find in Nepal. For me Nepal, the pure magic of mountains stirred into the light of life from the spark of heaven, has infinitude. Plenty of minute images of everything, that is in this earth and has the possibility of being, can be found here. A sample of polar country in the winter scene, and that of tropical country in monsoon is right before the eyes. Here all milieus can be found. Right here is Babylon’s hanging gardens, and hundreds of Niagara Falls. To include the Great Wall of China in the seven wonders while not realizing the splendor of the great walls on the periphery of Nepal is ignorance as a result of not being Nepalese. The magnificent Gaurishankar is present before the eyes. What is not here? I find it amazing – what? Heaven is above and hell below this. Divinity is always here and humans are all around, in limitlessness of the sky. Are the large galaxies not dancing like fireflies before this? Hence I repeat, what is not here - miracle of the heaven or integrity of the world?

... there is sweetness of variety in scenes of hill country. Colors here are dark and succulent. There is emotion here, the heart of poetry and music.

Flat country is wearisome. No reprieve can be found for the eye, everywhere looks the same. Low lying ornamental depressions, artistic lines, colors and shades, brilliance of mountain ranges, ebullient land rising to touch heaven and smiling at the top, patterns, reflections and tints of forests, sweetness and seduction cannot be found in plains. Plain is dull like a single minded idiot, plain cannot be elaborate. It is like the background devoid of a painting. But there is sweetness of variety in scenes of hill country. Colors here are dark and succulent. There is emotion here, the heart of poetry and music. Here, life does not look like a monotonous grey road. Drama is present here - some height, some depth, the magic of climbing, the charm of watching, the melody of listening. Plains merely boast of productivity due to the soil from the hills, but are like blank carpet. Here, art is present in every form. Sit down in one corner of the hills and several worlds can be seen in different directions from the same spot. Sometimes, as I am watching I see four different pictures in the same hill - shade, sunshine, drizzle, and haze.

The deep blue earth, which is adorned with the variety of beauty; where each hill is a lively world complete with birds, deer, and tigers; the sight of which fills human heart with awe; where silver tongues are in the stones and pearls of algae are scattered; where celestial voice is in the streams; where leaves are always speaking like occurrences of the animated world; where nature displays the skill of colors and light by creating numerous visual art; where creepers flutter in natural wall like patriotic pennon; where mighty mountains adorned with numerous flowers rule - is it not likely that there are kid’s paintings and works in the imagination of people from that place?

For some reason, I feel the magnificent heights of mountains are intrinsically related to the glory and stature of those close to it. The sons of fertile earth have a creative mind and the pictures of their imagination are brimming with verdure. Poets are usually born near gardens and great men near hills. With a countenance of an infant fawn, most men become saints. Near the forests that nurture tigers, nature rocks the cradle of valiant men. With the birdsong, I see a connection of poetry. In the deep twilights of woods, the feeling that lingers between the darkness of knowledge and brightness of wisdom manifests itself for me. I find peace in woods when in Nepal but lose it when I go to the plains. Hills and songs have an undying bond, like utterance and meaning. Heaven rains there. The sound of rain falling down in hills can purify mood because it has the element that tunes the stressed human heart. All these leaves are becoming green emotions and pervading the heart.

Why should I not write ‘big’? The feeling of ‘big’ was in the breath of mountains, in the blue color of the hills, in the abundant generosity of the nature. The land of love in the twittering of numerous joys, the world of pleasures and undertakings sought by the soul, where I am turning into a complete human from a beast like man, which the infancy considered to be infinity – I had woken up as an emotional portion of this, its red hot awareness. When I sit under the sacred fig, the consciousness of bigness germinates in me. When I go to the woods and look around for a while in silent solitude, I say to a friend “Oh, this feeling of bigness has overcome me. Everywhere you look, there is nothing but bigness in Nepal.”

Let the crowns of others remain on heads, the crown of my country lies in hearts.

There is nothing bigger than one’s country. Affection of the heart intensifies on a small centre, just like the Sunlight. It seems that increase in area dilutes love. I learn the love of the world in the motherland, not in the world. Each grain of my mind recognizes the importance of Nepal. In a far corner of the world, I would answer ‘Nepal’ when some vagabond visitor asks me, “Who are you?” When asked “What do you want?” when descending from heaven, I would answer, “Nepal’s wellness”. Let others seek liberation, or heaven, I seek goodness of Nepal and to serve it. Heaven or hell, do not give me accounts of other country’s pride. I know where the gem of my heart is and what its brilliance looks like. I might be ridiculed, but I believe there is sufficient culture in my motherland to provide spiritual nourishment to the world for a long time. Let the crowns of others remain on heads, the crown of my country lies in hearts.

Abroad is a dream, a fable of certain somewhere, unseen brilliance, an unclear unpalatable outside object. With what is not within my horizon, what relation does my vision have? How few Nepalese would imagine there is a world outside the boundary of stellar Nepal? In fact, for most people there is nothing bigger than the space above their head and they do not ponder that it is just a small portion of the Big. Why do I need to know anyway that there is another horizon beyond this? Someone who has seen the unbounded universe may call the Sun a small white dot, but for the inhabitants of earth, the Sun is a life giving god. My country is my world. It is reality. It is a dense existence.

If artistic dissemination of vivacious sentiments is literature, then one who is not truly Nepalese cannot create Nepalese literature.

When I am abroad, I am watching a drama. When I am home, I experience life. Those who call patriotism vain are tired of the hypocrisy in today’s world. All the aspirant citizens of the world forget that love of the world develops in one’s own country. To love the world but not one’s country and fellow countrymen is futile like trying to run before learning to walk. Even if my dreams attempt to venture out of the realm of essence of Nepal, they will be worthless. If artistic dissemination of vivacious sentiments is literature, then one who is not truly Nepalese cannot create Nepalese literature. All sceneries and objects of Nepal are fusing with me and self-publishing themselves as my thoughts, feelings, and memories through varied mechanisms. I do not write on the basis of inclusive global elements, Nepal is who writes. I do not speak, Nepal is who speaks. These are not my thoughts. The undying spirit inside me is only the effect of the dynamic auditory and visual elements of Nepal. Through fresh sparks and messages of these elements, I will keep marching in the path of service.