Kathmandu, March 8, 2018: With the motive of celebrating women in literature, Bookaholics, a community of enthusiastic readers and noted literary personalities, organized the 49th iteration of Chakati Bahas on March 3, 2018, at Martin Chautari, Thapathali.
The 49th edition was an initiation to forecast on women’s writing, the content they have held in their creations and an untangle to determine whether or not the wave of socio-cultural aspect has let women’s writings touch the path of progression. Additionally, the discussion was a sole proof to unravel the progression of women writings-then to now.
Shading light to the stereotype and extraneous outcasts of behavior upon women’s writing, Saguna Shah, the moderator of the event, added “Very often I as a speaker in any program find people question me of my inclusion. I feel offended because I have created a space. I feel women’s writing have also created a space that need not be butchered or disdained. Women’s writings have always received criticisms in various regards as a woman writing rather than observing their intellectual prowess and the psychological, social and cultural subordination.”
Kumari Lama, one of the noted essayist of the country and the first speaker of Chakati Bahas, introduced Nepal’s most influential female writers who set a benchmark for today’s women to continue their legacy. Lama voiced about the novels, stories, and sagas penned by Devkumari Thapa, Prema Shah, Parijat, Ambalika Devi, Banira Giri, Mayadevi Subba, Maya Thakuri and many others. She credited these women writers as a catalyst who transformed the helpless women characters to a strong, defiant character.
Lama added, “The women who were lost somewhere in the offstage started to play a rebellious character in novels, stories, and poems. The beauty of this literature is that it invited a profuse voice for women in Nepal.” She emphasized the need for a strong women character in literary creations who would set a benchmark and an indelible memory in the midst.
Emphasizing the need of the hour, i.e. need of a strong pen in the women’s literature, Lama mentioned,“Who has set the standards of beauty in women? Why don’t we write about our own body, our own existence and ourselves? It’s time that we start writing varied subjects in our creations. However, the waves we have set through our writing against all the odds is what makes the work boundary breaking.”
Harimaya Bhetwal, author of the best-selling book of 2017- Kalli and the second speaker of the Bahas mirrored the challenges women have to face while writing and the fear that constantly affects their mindset about breaking the boundaries in writing. Furthermore, she stated the lack of quality that has been foreshadowed by the quantity of the published writings in Nepal. Bhetwal mentioned about the dire necessity of a writing in Nepali women literature that would march for a change.
“I have observed many women rebut claims of not being a feminist. If they write about women issues, portray women as a central character and raise voices for female, why do they conceal themselves and their voices as a feminist? If we need a reform in the issues, women should act as a catalyst for change.”, added Bhetwal.
The floor of discussion opened up to suggestions and enlightening words from the scholars and avid readers. On the very first discussion, Sarad Pradhan mentioned about the context of awareness that has been developing to identify a writer as a ‘writer’ but not approaching gender-specific roles to describe them as a ‘male writer’ or a ‘female writer’. Creating a rousing ambience on the discussion, an enthusiastic Pranika Koyu established a fact that women writers in Nepal should focus more on creating a strong content that would uplift the literary sphere of the country. Furthermore, she added that the continuous faceting of problems rather than creating a strong content would impede the growth of female writer itself.
Lakxhman Shrestha mentioned, “Have female writers ever researched on Prijat’s writing so precisely that gives every one of us the right to name her as absurdist? The pillar of a male writer who censured her approach as absurdism in Sirish Ko Phool is a long-believed idea since time immemorial. Not a single female has initiated to research on Parijat’s approach in the novel. This very sexist idea has led to a concrete and disappointing scenario for women’s writing in Nepal.”
Reminiscing Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Sarita Giri, conversed on the relatability the name of Woolf’s book has invited in her life. She shared, “When I compare the person who read the novel 15 years ago and the person I am today, I find that I have a varied opinion on the title of Room of One’s Own. For me, it means having control over one’s sexuality and power. Exhibiting control on sexuality and power is a need for women in Nepal.” She also underscored the ardent need for the introduction of well established philosophical learning in the literary world of Nepal.
After witnessing the event, Sabina Sitaula, an avid reader and an audience of the event mentioned, “Often times we forget that women in Nepal have started revolutionizing their ways through their writing. I felt nothing but inspired and the mark of inspiration women are creating through writing is commendable.”
Chakati Bahas was initiated four years ago with the motive of giving the virtual discussions of Bookaholics with a concrete platform. The discussion is conducted in Martin Chautari, a scholarly based research-based platform that has facilitated Bookaholics with a free space to conduct discussions. Every first Saturday in accordance with the English calendar, Chakati Bahas invites enthusiastic readers and noted literary personalities to get acknowledged with the savor of the literary world.
Through Chakati Bahas, Bookaholics have set a pristine definition of their discussion, i.e. the group converses on to promote the reading culture. The conversations are based on the domestic and international writer’s creations whereby several acclaimed and expert writers are invited for thematic discussions and comparative analysis on various literary topics. They don’t try to concrete their talks on mainstream literature but invite the marginalized voices through Chakati Bahas. Bookaholics commenced this year through children’s discussion where Aparaa Lohani, a 10-year-old enthusiastic booklover conversed on the Harry Potter series. Celebrated poet and lyricist Viplab Pratik’s works were the topics of discussion in February.
By: Kabita Sen