The yearning for a spiritual, peaceful space
May 19, 2018-Nabaraj Lamsal is a familiar name in the field of Nepali literature, journalism, and cultural studies. The voice behind popular literary radio programmes Madhuban and Soor Sangam, 48-year-old Lamsal is also deputy director at the state-owned Radio Nepal. Till date, he has penned seven books including two Mahakavyas (epic poetry)—Karna and Dhara. Also a cultural enthusiast and an avid traveller, Lamsal just got home from a 12-day trip to Khaptad. In this conversation with the Post’s Abijeet Pant, Lamsal talks about his love for travelling, culture, and literature. Excerpts:
You just came back from Khaptad. How was it?
Of course, there are highs and lows in any journey, but overall, the trip was wonderful. I walked for 13 hours straight to reach my destination. My legs hurt and I even had to see the doctor, but these are just some things you do out of passion.
Passion for radio or travelling?
Both. The trip to Khaptad was more of a work-trip. As a radio host in such a tech-savvy age, I admit that a large group of people who listen to my shows and programmes are based in rural, remote areas rather than the urban. For me, Khaptad trip was mostly about connecting and getting to know these people—my audience. Besides, I made several stops to attend five literary programmes on my way to Khaptad.
Was it a productive trip? What interesting events did you attend?
Yes. One of the programmes I attended was Kafal sanga Kabita in Doti. It was a poetry recitation programme that served the district’s favourite berries—Kafal—for snacks. We ate Kafal throughout the programme.
I also facilitated interaction and literary programmes with teachers, local representatives, and literature enthusiasts in various districts. All these programmes have been recorded and will be aired soon. One of these programmes included Dhara Sanjhi, where I recited lines from one of my Mahakavyas, Dhara.
While you have written plays and songs, you are renowned as a poet. Do you not like writing fiction? Why haven’t we seen stories or novels from you?
Poetry is the expression and reflection of one’s inner self and thoughts. They are private and personal. Novels and stories, on the other hand, are the adaptation of realities that surround us. I believe that one’s inner voices will always be relevant. But stories that are based on a certain reality or ideology of a certain time period may not always be relevant. I think and feel a lot and poetry is my ideal outlet as it takes me to a spiritual, peaceful space.
It has been a year since you released Dhara. What has the response been like?
Dhara is a Mahakavya based on Nepali culture, ethnicity, and history. It is the melting point of my ten-year’s worth of experience spanning from research and travelling to writing and hosting. The response to Dhara has been amazing. I have travelled to many places for the book’s promotional campaigns and the book has been received with so much love. Unfortunately though, most of the critics and analysts here in Kathmandu have yet to comment at length on it. I haven’t received any critique, positive or negative, from the critics here.
You publish books after significant intervals. Is there a reason?
I think one of the major problems in the literary field today is the lack of patience. Everybody seems to be in haste to publish something. For me, writing a poem or two is fine, but coming up with a whole collection is a very challenging task. It is strenuous. Every poem has to be unique from another. Every poem has to be an outcome of an elaborate thought process.
Do you sometimes feel like your media persona overshadows the poet in you?
Most of my admirers are based outside the Valley. And they look at me as a poet who hosts radio shows. During my Khaptad trip, people referred to me as a poet. In Kathmandu though, people look at me as a radio host who turned into a poet. My reputation as a media personality undoubtedly overshadows the poet in me.
Is it possible that it’s happening because the public’s interest in poetry itself is declining these days? How did Dhara do, sales wise?
In case of Mahakavya, yes, there is an obvious decline in readership. Fortunately, there wasn’t much investment from my side while publishing Dhara since I didn’t expect any monetary benefit from it. However, while the sales have been slow, they have been steady.
Decline in readership is not so much a challenge compared to the unhealthy competition that the growing Nepali publishing industry has embraced.
What is next in the pipeline?
I have been working on a novel and an autobiography. However, I don’t think I will be launching them anytime soon. I have had a significant background in poetry and I am not sure if I want to break out of my reputation as a poet for now. I want to take my time before the transition.
As someone who has already penned two Mahakavyas, my priority for the time being is another epic poetry. I may not work on it for ten years this time, but I will try to come up with such a piece that will once again bring Dhara and Karna to limelight. These days, I am continuously delving into its primitive framework and topics. But if the work is no better than Dhara, I may not publish it at all.
Published: 19-05-2018 07:59