Our lives are a bundle of diverse experiences. But sometimes, they are threatened. So, the themes that describe our lives are not smooth sailing for any author. What dictates life – circumstances anticipated or enormous conditions not even imagined? It seems that this question, in the context of the Pandemic Covid – 19, had been pressing to arouse the creative heart and mind of senior litterateur, Prof. Govinda Raj Bhattarai, because he was unavoidably influenced by themes which neither were expected nor were in the list of wishes to fulfil in his post-retiment from the university.
A freer time brings many freer moods. But, the meanwhile mighty curtain fell all of a sudden and it turned the waves of imaginative moods in different directions for the author of this under-review essay book entitled "Nirwachit Nibandhawali". Here we need to remember the 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who said, "Man is born free, but everywhere he is in the chain".
The discourse in this literary book shows that the author’s mood was caught inescapably this way. No doubt, Dr Bhattarai is a passionate essayist. He enjoys it when he catches this genre to give an outlet to his artistic imagination. He loves to mention that one can freely fly and the depth the essay genre provides to writers is enormously wide. Many literary experts wish to dub it a dry beat, but Dr Bhattarai holds a different view. He says he loves to write essays because it holds the potential to carry his creative imagination towards the deepest layer of life's truth.
Examples of this fact in this under-review book are many. But, we can present a few lines from the first essay entitled, "After the Thirty-five Years of Banishment", which describes one of the bitter truths of life [the arrival of retirement as a professor from the Tribhuvan University services] with a depth of expression and simplicity.
He says in the second paragraph of this essay, "The day of my retirement is nearing. I had been on the pace of a supersonic aircraft for thirty-five years of my life. Now there is only obsession. But there is time to look back because that road which I had already walked is no longer with me and I have to stop. Such a long door to my life is about
Certainly, saying goodbye to one life does not mean there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Dr Bhattarai has repeatedly highlighted this fact in the pieces of essays in this book. The word "Nirwachit…" in the book title political connotations means victory in elections which is a source of rejuvenation for the betterment of a country or society.
Same way, like the election’s importance in politics, the selected essays [Nirwachit] in this book share the wisdom of life not to lose hope even in the darkest moment. This is Bhattarai's vision for essay writing and this time he has been effectively demonstrative in this under-review anthology.
What also must not be missed to mention about this book is, it is not a compilation of scattered pieces of writing which generally authors wish to bring out in their free time retirement. It is made only with freshly encountered themes of life. The Covid- 19, no doubt, remained the dominant issue at this time and from context-to-context Dr Bhattarai has mirrored here the chaotic circumstances of this menace beautifully.
In number, there are only 19 pieces in this anthology, but if we consider its size of 187 pages, what we find is that the author is descriptive. This is, in fact, a matter of descriptive freedom under which the author has turned the COVID-19 isolation time into liberty for his expressive mood.
Dr Bhattarai often says sensibly worded longer titles, too, are effective, especially to acquaint the themes to be dealt with in essay writing. The author, it seems, has prioritised this preference while writing essays for this book, too. For example, we can mention essay titles like "One morning of a retired professor in Kathmandu", "One afternoon dedicated to the zoom meeting conducted by THB College of Assam" and "Library is an unending passion of life" as essays of this kind written by the author.
So far as the matter of contemporary literary essays is concerned, "Nirwachit Nibandhawali” is a welcome creation for readers. It is not only because it serves fresh issues of life; moreover, it takes readers artistically as they turn the pages. This collection offers interesting literary discourse with a focus on literary values of competitively transforming the life of the modern age and times.
(Gandhi is former journalist of this daily)