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Christening our literature: A tough nut?

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 Yati-Raj-Ajnabee1The present amphitheater of Bhutanese diaspora and its literature is going through ghastly blackout and the uncertainty of finding an appropriate term to label it with is hanging like a Damocles’ sword. As it keeps dangling and swinging around, everyone in the auditorium is scared as to who the sword would fall upon. Another fear is that we have to bid a farewell to one of the audience if it falls. Therefore looking for or accumulating some know-how to supply the audience with the light again and safely remove the sword is indispensable.

Without being affected by the fact that majority of us speak Nepali as it’s our mother tongue, the letters we write now and in the days that follow is not Nepali literature. Calling the writings we pen by Nepali literature may superficially sound soothing to those who have not much avail themselves of some time in seclusion to meditate on the downsides of terming it so, as a lot of chaos in our literary arena is on progress at the moment that arrest their eyes and ears. It’s not unusual to be tossed by temporal tides and be swallowed however a drowning man should, as a last resort, try catching at a straw. Knocking next door for help is not at all a bad idea however doing it with the gauged gravity of its necessity would not only be better but wiser as well. When we have enough men of letters, intellectuals, pundits and priests sufficiently qualified and competent to christen our literature, it is no more than a folly and doesn’t worth a penny to borrow our neighbours’ time and energy before beginning to scratch our heads sitting all concerned together and exerting efforts to make our minds meet.

Is christening our letters by ourselves really a tough nut to crack? No, not at all if you ask me. When it comes to the literal sense of the term “Nepali” it represents the entire citizens of Nepal and all the languages spoken there. It also is used to define our ethnicity though. As mentioned in the earlier lines, the language, almost all of us speak, without a doubt, is Nepali. Do you think it is the only language that we speak? Apparently not. When it comes to the languages we speak or articulate our thoughts and feelings with, we have English, Sanskrit, Dzongkha, etc. in addition to Nepali. In the years to come we won’t be even surprised to see our writers writing in Danish, Dutch, French, Norwegian, etc. Let’s assume a scenario where our literature is commonly written in Dutch. Do you get along with it or have your say against? If we call our letters by Nepali literature today, we will end up with making a sharp curve in our whole history and putting a sign up that reads “black spot”.. Our literature should represent all ethnic entities, with different languages and dialects, of our diverse community and this won’t be materialized if we say that the literature we right is Nepali. Taking all these into account, we amended Nepali Sahitya Parishad Bhutan by removing “Nepali” from it into Sahitya Parishad Bhutan and now I feel that this should again be reviewed and reformed into “academy”, “society”, “institution”, or “federation” of Bhutanese Literature in diaspora.

It goes without saying that we have been struggling hard for years for coining our own identity. Identity is something that always has relation with time and space we live in. As it is as plain as one’s nose on the face that literature is one of the distinctive facets of a community or society, it is the call of the current time for us all to brood over inventing an apposite and enduring term for it so as to prevent our future generations from getting mixed up like we did for as long as until now. Making an allowance for the amalgamation of all the literary entities by the ones involved with them and others concerned is the demand of the time we are living with. I would like to underline one more time that we come together for a discussion on this common issue of our community. There is no pertinence to any extent of tagging our literature as Nepali. The term “Nepali” is now too green and wooden to be used as an adjective to add beauty to our letters. Magnificence of the name should be considered peripheral to pertinence when it comes to naming our letters.  Neither can we brand it as Bhutanese literature alone. The comprehensive, inclusive, precise, pertinent and all-embracing terminology for our letters that I have come up with after zeroing in on it is literature in Bhutanese diaspora or diasporic Bhutanese literature.

The author, who is based in Adelaide, South Australia, is Editor of Bhutaneseliterature.com, and blogs at yatirajajnabee.wordpress.com.

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