BY ARABINDA RIMAL
Pub. Tanka Prasad Smriti Prathisthan
Ed. (Nepali) by Adv. Bhimnath Ghimire
(English) by Shobharam Bhand
This collection of essays which borrows the book title from the opening essay of a tea stall at a Dilli Bazar corner came with a bang in its first edition some nine years ago and the second edition is perhaps manifestation of its popularity. The writer Arvinder Rimal hails from that locality and comes from a respectable enough family to have had his faculties finely tuned to the emerging class of enthusiastic modernists who fuelled the overthrow of the Rana autocracy with fresh indoctrination in democracy and ideology that actually carried the country with lives and dedication to its current phase for nearly seven decades now.
An autobiographical account of sorts, Rimal’s inculcation into the whirlwind of Nepali politics since its seminal modern phase is so interspersed with volumes of luminaries and events that it is an opinionated account of contemporary Nepali politics and its source. Rimal turned communist under Pushpalal in the movement’s inceptual stage, was part of the struggle led by the Praja Parishad under Tanka Prasad Acharya with the communists, spent a stint in the Sixties in Delhi translating for the Nepali version of “Soviet Bhoomi” which, for those with even a cursory introduction to Nepali politics should adequately reflect his political alignments in the many hues of Left politics that continues to permeate Nepali society.
A series of articles and essays that the book is a compilation of enriches the reader’s knowledge of political personalities from Tanka Prasad Acharya and the original Nepali martyrs that augered in the Nepali democratic movement and carried the post-1950 politics to this date. Of course, thus, B.P. and P.L.. Tribhuvan and Mahendra interspersed with comments on luminaries like Keshar Jung Raimajhi make for serious reading to contemporary students of Nepali politics. To be borne in mind is the fact that what has been penned is the author’s version and tat the author’s ideological dispensation at times colors the book too.
Rimal’s version need not be far from the truth though since his attempt at empiricism begrudges his characters their due. So when the author talks of B.P. and Mahendra he is scathing to both on their political conduct and contribution to the eventual degradation of parliamentary democracy in the country. An attempt at academic discourse is educative on foreign policy in the last chapter while there are some deep incites in the form of travelogues in between. For this reviewer, old time names such as Chandra Dhar Uprety, Hari Krishna Shrestha, Sahana and Sadhana Pradhan, Manmohan Adhikary and other Left leaders struck familiar notes enough to complete a book that compiles history written at various dates and times by an author who is himself very much an actor on the scene. Just as the lieutenant’s tea stall faded into history, many names have faded from memory of Kathmandu’s political and intellectual scene, it is a happy thought that Arvind Rimal remains penning words of import still.