Chandra writes in his native language Nepali. Social and political issues, the predicament of human life, people around him and the present deficiencies of humanity are often subjects of his poetry. He has an anthology of poetry to his credit, and is working a second anthology to be released soon.
Where in Nepal did you grow up and what was it like?
I was born in a hilly and remote village in the district Gorkha of Nepal. I went to Himanchal Pradesh (India) for my schooling with my father, who was in the Indian army as a soldier in Gurkha Regiment. Himanchal Pradesh is a hilly state in the Northern part of India. There are no climatic and topographic distinctions between my birthplace and Himanchal Pradesh, for example the rivers, hilly slopes, jungles, vegetation etc., were exactly the same. The hilly people, with their natural simplicity and innocence, were not different at all to people of my village either. These can be seen as the good things of my childhood days. The bad things were geographical distances between my family members, especially with mother. That made me experience solitude and I was often deprived of many social connections.
Were there things growing up that still influences your writing now?
Yes, a lot of things were there that provoked me into writing; being away from mother and motherland, the loneliness I experienced during my school days, the shortages of various natural things made me a sensitive and quite lad. I liked to remain alone and tended to stay away from the circle of friends. I started enjoying loneliness and my own private world. The emotions and thoughts thus created were, and still are the strongest urges in my writing.
In the year 2008 the autocracy of the Kingdom of Nepal was put to an end; the Maoist insurgency took lives of about 17,000 people, poverty prevailed and faulty Government bodies and corrupted politicians are often central subjects of my writing.
By Chandra Gurung
Since you've arrived
The bouquet of roses over the stand -
Kindly adorn them in the vase of your heart
And let the fragrance of love prevail.
Prepare two chairs on the terrace
And let's park ourselves to some dear moments
Over the table -
Put a bottle of wine and a couple goblet
We shall have tête-à-tête -
Sparing a fragment of life.
Take a glance -
Over my exhausted wardrobe
Over the orphaned books, pens and papers
Over the cigar stubs reclining like a corpse
Over the crumpled face on the mirror
Awaiting everyone -
Is your gentle caress.
On a murky brightness of twilight
Solitary you, appeared at my threshold
This jiffy -
All over my body
Gushing is a wave of affection.
Not to shut the window panes
This is a belief -
Always my heart hath
Of your homecoming.
Did you have a love of words back then?
After my school days, I don’t really remember writing poems for quite a long time as I was busy with college and working life; I attended morning classes in the college, and I was also working as a full-time school teacher in Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal. After teaching hours, to meet my college expenses, I also gave private tuitions for extra money. Thus life was hectic and a struggle, so there was little time for reading, writing and poetry. But my love for books and words was still buried deep in my heart.
I got inclined towards poetry once again at around the age of 30 when I was away from my home and working in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Home-sickness, having more leisure time, and my love for poetry inspired me to write again. After that, in the year of 2007 and after I moved to Bahrain, came my first poetry collection in Nepali literally titled: His Heart Hath Not His Country’s Map.
By Chandra Gurung
there started a ghastly war.
New-born, crawling hopes were killed,
many young desires were trampled and exterminated,
old faiths collapsed and went out;
but nothing changed.
Nothing did change;
thorns of jealousy and malice kept on growing,
the tall wall of discrimination remained as it was,
the blemished sword kept on glinting,
and, enmity kept on sneering
in the hearts’ corners.
And one day,
he came …
And, there sprouted young leaves of hope
in the deserted hearts,
there flew kites of desires in the disturbed, ashen sky -
there spread the light of faith.
life beamed once again!
What projects you are currently working on?
At the moment I am editing and rewriting my own poems, preparing for my second anthology, as well as translating them into other key languages.
What really inspires you?
It is not that I write poems about just anything that comes to my mind, but I write only on those topics and themes that are of most interest and mainly I write poems on social and political issues, the predicament of human life, people around me and the present deficiencies of humanity are subjects of many of my poems.
What is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration, or idea, into actual words on paper?
Firstly, an idea of the new poem creeps in my mind inspired by some incident, it happens all of sudden. I then start converting this idea into a poem. Initially, a draft work then a lot of rewritings to polish it further.
The Old Fisherman And The Country
By Chandra Gurung
abrades his days to and fro the banks of the Narayani river.
He takes delight in being towards the village of waters
he wanders along the lanes of waters
a colorless, tasteless and formless life
just like water.
The old radio hung on the hut-pole
keeps on hissing-wheezing -
topsy-turvy ill governance
news of messy management
and in another corner -
Dilbahadur keeps on catching in his perunge heart
those that have gone flying kites of desires in the sky of life
crossing the Narayani river -
chanting country on their lips
hugging the country all in their arms
oozing out the country from their eyes.
This country screams its agonies out
in every junction
walks bandhas and strikes in the streets
and kills the time of dark transition
keeps on stroking the canvas on the bank of Narayani river -
old eyes on guard of the house
youthful nights awaiting the incomplete honeymoon
young cheeks so restless to receive Papa’s kiss.
This country goes away with so many
crossing its boarders
with so many it continues living in scarcity in its own yards
and with a porter pains enters into the city
carrying a huge burden of worries.
lives by the bank of the Narayani river
weaving a fishnet of so many thoughts—
crowds after crowds of scarcity-stricken lives
the blood and sweat that drain in the foreign lands
the song ‘Here come the Gurkhas… ’
that goes loud in the desolate battlefield
and the darkness of the red light area …
lifting a globe of his wrinkled forehead
leans for a rest, breathing out his exhaustion.
If he could, he would turn them right back to their homes,
He would put up a hindrance for those
gone abroad crossing the deep Narayani river
adorning the country on the walls of their hearts
uplifting the country overhead
affixing the country in their hearts and minds.
the country continues suffering in innumerable hearts
just like in Dilbahadur’s bosom:
… plash … splash
… plash … splash.
Do you have a particular writing location?
No fixed time and location. Generally, in front of my laptop whenever I find time because my poems are never completed in one sitting. I work on two or three new poems at the same time. I take out and insert the metaphors/words from one poem to another, as required. I have found most of the themes are generated when I am travelling alone. Also, reading other poets’ works give me ideas for new themes and topics.
Are there challenges associated with writing in your mother tongue?
Yes, many poets writing in their mother tongues are not exposed to lovers of poetry around the world; their works are rarely translated, and they don’t have publishing opportunities that others might have, for example poets writing in English have clear advantage over those writing in their native languages. However, I have translated Hindi and English poems into the Nepali language, and have also translated many Nepali poems into Hindi. I find translation is very important for the promotion and preservation of good poems and poets.
By Chandra Gurung
They’ve come, leaving behind corpses
They’ve come, leaving behind cries and moans
They’ve come, leaving behind gruesome scenes
In the battlefield.
They’ve come, wearing the face of victors
They’ve come, carrying the euphoria of victory
They’ve come, embracing the joy
All the way from the battlefield.
They’ve come, conquering huge nations
They’ve come, defeating the new government
They’ve come, winning glory
All the way from the battlefield.
they haven’t been able to win
The empire of hearts.
What are your plans for the future ?
I wish to work with fellow poets, starting a poetry circle and organizing poetry symposiums, seminars, interactions and programs.
Writing is an act of expressing oneself. Poets write mostly about their life experiences, memorable moments and their own perspectives on things. Writing is a journey within, and for exploring oneself. For me, writing poetry is like pouring out my own feelings and emotions, as well as fulfilling my duties towards other people, society and country. Writing can be for self-pleasure or social purposes. In most of the cases, writing starts as hobby but gradually it becomes social duty as more responsibility comes with serious writing.