पुस्तक समीक्षा : जङ्गबहादुर

साधना मासिक सन् नब्बेको दशकको उत्कृष्ट म्यागजिन थियो । यस मासिकका धेरै अंकहरू बाबाले संग्रह गरेर राख्नु भएको थियो, जसमध्ये धेरैजसो डेरा र घर सर्दा हराए । अब केही मात्रै बाँकी छन् । “जङ्गबहादुर” उपन्यास धारावाहिक रुपमा प्रकाशन हुन्थ्यो । गगनसिंहलाई मार्न फत्तेजंग, अभिमानसिंह राना र जङ्गले लिएको सपथ अनि कोतपर्वको विवरण भएका दुई भिन्न अंकहरू अहिलेसम्म पनि सुरक्षित छन् । उपन्यासलाई आधार मानेर सामाजिक शिक्षाको परीक्षामा जङ्गबहादुरको उदयलाई अंग्रेजीमा लेख्ने गर्थें । यो विषयमा मैले पाठ्यपुस्तक कहिले पनि हेरिन । तर बजारमा उपन्यास भेटिंदैनथ्यो ।

यसपाली पुसमाघतिर विशालनगरमा यो उपन्यास अचानक देखेँ । सपनाजस्तो लाग्यो । केही दिनमा पैसा जुटाएर लिएँ तर पढ्ने फुर्सद थिएन । पाँचौँ संस्करण रहेछ । मार्च महिनाको सुरुवातमा जापान भ्रमण ताका सँगै लिएर गएँ अनि पढें पनि । तर थकान अनि किताबमा भेटिएका गल्तीका कारण पूरै पढ्न सकिनँ । फाइनल एक्जाम सकिएपछि चाहिं फेरी थालेँ र पढी भ्याएँ ।

सबल पक्ष

१. उपन्यासले जङ्गबहादुरलाई क्रुर मात्र देखाएको छैन, उनलाई कुन परिस्थितिले त्यस्तो बनायो भन्ने पनि प्रष्ट बताएको छ ।

२. त्यस समयमा भएका षडयन्त्रहरू र हत्याकाण्डहरू कहाली लाग्दा छन् । रानी लक्ष्मीदेवीको उन्माद र राजा राजेन्द्रको अकर्मण्यताले घटनाक्रमलाई अगाडि बढाउन मद्दत गरेका छन् ।

३. कोतपर्व र भण्डारखाल पर्वको चित्रण उत्कृष्ट छ । हत्याका दृश्यहरू सजीव छन् । यसले पारेको प्रभाव माथि पनि लेखिसकेका छु ।

४. जङ्गबहादूरको प्रेमिल पक्ष अनौठो र रमाइलो लाग्छ । यो त्यत्तिकै आएको छैन । जङ्गकी प्रेमिका (पछि पत्नी) पुतलीले जासूस र सलाहकारका रूपमा जङ्गलाई सहयोग गरेकी छिन् ।

५. जङ्ग र उनका भाइहरू बीचको सम्बन्ध राम्रोसँग देखाइएको छ अनि डायमन शमशेरको “सेतो बाघ”को अन्त्यमा भएका घटना (जङ्गका छोरा नातिको हत्या) को बीजारोपण पनि यहाँ गरिएको छ । तर सेतो बाघभन्दा बढी तथ्यपरक छ ।

दुर्बल पक्ष

१. सेतो बाघमा जस्तो लेखकको विचार नै त आउँदैन तर “यसो होला भन्ने कसैले सोचेको भए” भन्ने किसिमका वाक्यहरू दोहोरिइरहन्छन् । यसले कथावाचनलाई अलि कम्जोर बनाएको छ ।

२. चरित्र चित्रण गर्ने केही वाक्यहरू दोहोरिइरहन्छन् । यसले कथालाई छरितो बनाउनबाट रोकेको छ ।

३. अलौ पर्वसम्म विस्तारमा भनिएको कथा त्यसपछि भने सारांश बन्छ । जङ्गबहादुरको बेलायत भ्रमण, मुलुकी ऐनको घोषणा, नेपाल-तिब्बत युद्ध जस्ता विषय केही वाक्यमा समापन हुन्छन् ।

४. जङ्गले इष्ट इन्डिया कम्पनीलाई भारतको सैनिक विद्रोहमा सहयोग गरेको प्रसङ्ग आएकै छैन ।

५. उपन्यासमा प्रिन्ट एरर धेरै छन् । सम्पादनको कमी छ । र पुस्तकको ISBN नहुनु आश्चर्यको विषय हो ।

पुस्तक : जङ्गबहादुर

विधा : ऐतिहासिक उपन्यास

लेखक : श्रीकृष्ण श्रेष्ठ

पृष्ठ संख्या : ३०२

प्रकाशक : कामना पब्लिकेशनस्                      

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Why Kazuo Kiriyama did not win the Battle

Kazuo Kiriyama is the best “player” of the “game” that involves killing classmates. He alone kills twelve of his classmates. Yet he ends up dead. A lot of Battle Royale video game fans seem to be annoyed by this fact. They say, “He deserved to win.” I say, “He didn’t. A novel or a movie is different from a video game.”

The kid who never smiled

We get the first and the most important insight into Kazuo Kiriyama’s character through Mitsuru Numai in Chapter 11. Mitsuru had been in an occasion, saved from bullies by Kazuo and since then, he had revered the latter. He believed Kazuo was the one capable of beating the system and destroy the Battle Royal Programme because he had defeated local yakuza (Yakuza is an organization of powerful Japanese gangsters or mafias).

Mitsuru and his friends make him the leader of the gang called the Kiriyama family. Despite being called notorious in the city, the Kiriyama family never bullied upon others in the school. They all relied on Kazuo Kiriyama and did things for fun. However, when Kiriyama kills his gang within an hour of the beginning of the game, Mitsuru Numai notices one thing that they had always ignored: “Kazuo Kiriyama never smiled.” (Chapter 11, Battle Royale)

Kazuo Kiriyama is apathetic. He does not feel anything. Neither joy, nor sorrow, no pity, no guilt. We later know that while he was still in his mother’s womb, she fell in an accident and a stake had entered Kiriyama’s head. The accident destroyed his emotional centre. Whatever the reason, Kiriyama is what Shogo Kawada tells us: “A hollow man … There’s no place in his heart for logic or love, no. For any kind of values. That kind of person. On top of that, there’s no reason for the way he is.” (Chapter 67, Battle Royale).

The coin toss

If one thing that changed the complexion of the story, it is Kiriyama’s coin toss. He had two options:

  1. To participate in the game, and
  2. To destroy the Battle Royale Programme and the government.

Kiriyama’s choices are not based on logic. They were based on chance. Had he used logic, he would have chosen the second option. He would have been a great helping hand to our heroes Shogo Kawada, Shuya Nanahara and Shinji Mimura. None of our heroes believed he was capable of killing his classmates. He hadn’t even bullied one! Kiriyama’s coin toss, thus becomes a bane for all his classmates.

Even if Kiriyama had not been thinking logically, had the coin toss made him destroy the Programme, he would have got support from his gang as well as the others. They would not have to fear their own classmates. Forty of them could have brought down the Programme in no time.

In the movie, however, Kiriyama is a new student like Shogo Kawada and is a mystery. In the novel, he is their classmate and still a mystery. Kiriyama from the novel, to me, is a bigger villain. But he could have easily turned into a hero.

Why Kiriyama did not win

Simply, because letting Kiriyama win was against the books theme of love and kindness. Kiriyama is the exact opposite of love and kindness. Had Koshun Takami, the author, let Kiriyama win, he would have set a wrong example. He had to save the lovely Noriko and the lucky Shuya to send a message: “Apathy is a vice,” and: “Choice made without reasoning is a curse.”

Had Kiriyama won, another theme of the book would have been crushed: rebellion. After the coin toss, Kiriyama’s chance of being a rebellion dies. Rebellion stays alive in the form of Nakagawa and Nanahara. They didn’t get long lecture from Kawada about the system and change to get killed in the end. They are there to bring about some change. Kiriyama’s victory would have shattered Shogo’s dream, and our hopes that the Battle Royale Programme would come to an end. Kiriyama did not win. We still have a hope.

[Featured image obtained from fdzeta.com]

Battle Royale: Themes in Movies and Books

Battle Royale has a simple concept: 42 students are abducted to an island, provided with weapons and made to fight each other. What would they do?  Some would fear for their lives and attack first. Some would form allies (and later betray). Some would go on a rampage, while some would seek for peace. Koshun Takami plays at these possibilities and delivers the details of the battle at an unimaginable level. Here I discuss some of the themes I discovered in Battle Royale.

  1. Authority, trust and rebellion

The novel is set in the fascist regime of the Republic of Greater East Asia (RGEA) in 1997. The country is basically Japan in an alternate timeline. However, from the details in the plot, I could sense that the Republic of Greater East Asia also included China.

I wonder how the fascism originated in the Republic. Could it be the Chinese communist influence, or could it be the World War II Japan? The latter feels more likely. During the Second World War, Japan was an imperialistic force that had sided with Germany. Japan even invaded China until they were sent back the PLA led by Mao. In the alternate timeline, Japan might have won both the wars and established an authoritarian rule. But we do not know.

Here is a conversation that makes it difficult to know the country’s history.

Noriko interrupted him, ‘Seventy-five years ago?’ Hugging her knees under her pleated skirt, Noriko tilted her head with a puzzled look on her face.

Noriko then looked over at Shuya. Shuya nodded and then looked back at Shogo. ‘I heard something about how the history they teach us is a big lie and that the current Dictator is hardly the 325th Dictator. In fact, he’s only supposed to be the twelfth one, right?’

Shuya glanced at Noriko’s surprised face, but when he heard Shogo’s next statement, ‘Well, even that might not be true,’ he raised his brow.

‘What do you mean?’

Shogo smiled and said, ‘There is no Dictator. He doesn’t exist. He’s just made up. That’s what I heard.’

‘What?’

‘That can’t be…’ Noriko said hoarsely, ‘but we see him on the news…and on New Year’s he makes an appearance in front of everyone at his palace…’

‘Right.’ Shogo grinned. ‘But who is this ‘everyone at the palace’? Have you ever met someone who was actually there? What if they were actors too, just like the Dictator?’

Battle Royale (Chapter 31)

Though the history is dubious, it is clear that the government wants control over its citizens. Battle Royale Programme (aka Battle Experiment No. 68 or the Programme) is a form of control. The abducted children are forced to fight and one of them stands out as the winner. These children fear (and/or mistrust) each other. In the situation, they forget the good times they had together. Some examples are:

  • Yoshio Akamatsu is the first to be grabbed by fear. He kills a girl from a safe spot and attacks Shuya Nanahara.
  • Yuko Sakaki sees Nanahara “kill” Tatsumichi Oki and out of fear, tries to poison him. Her action causes a shootout in the Light House (the most intense scene in both the book and the movie), and five girls kill each other. She herself commits suicide.
  • Kayoko Kotohiki attacks Hiroki Sugimura thinking he is going to kill her. Hiroki’s only mission, however is to search her, protect her (if possible) and to confess his love for her. (This is one of those scenes which is better than in the book than in the movie.)

What about the parents and guardians of the students who are abducted for the “Experiment”? They get informed about it. Some protest. They are killed or tortured by the government. Shogo’s father was killed when he was the participant of the previous Programme. Kinpatsu Sakamochi (Programme Supervisor) raped Anno, Nanahara’s caretaker. And the others accept their fate of having to lose a child. Noriko Nakagawa’s parents are said to be alive at the end of the story.

Any resistance against the Programme or the government is crushed. Mr. Hayashida (the teacher) is killed when he resists to cooperate with Sakamochi. Shinji Mimura’s uncle is said to have died in an accident but Shinji believes that he was murdered by the government for being rebellious.

Also, the Programme is equal to all. The participant could be the son of a bureaucrat or an aristocrat or may be an orphan. None of it matter. No one is spared. The moment between Kyoichi Motobuchi, the class representative and Kinpatsu Sakamochi makes this concept clear.

Some of his classmates might have been hoping that Kyoichi would provide some adequate rational form of protest. Kill the friends you were hanging out with yesterday? It was impossible. Someone’s making a mistake here. Hey rep, can you take care of this one for us?

“’M-my father is a director of environmental affairs in the prefectural government. How could the class I’m in be selected for th-the Program?…’

Due to his shaking, his tense voice sounded even more wound up than usual.

The man who called himself Sakamochi grinned and shook his head, his long hair swinging in the air. ‘Let’s see. You’re Kyoichi Motobuchi, right?

‘You must know what equality means. Listen up. All people are born equal. Your father’s job in the prefectural government doesn’t entitle you to special privileges. You are no different. Listen up, everybody. You all have your own distinct personal backgrounds. Of course some of you come from rich families, some from poor families. But circumstances beyond your control like that shouldn’t determine who you are. You must all realize what you’re worth on your own. So Kyoichi, let’s not delude ourselves that you’re somehow special—because you’re not!’”

Battle Royale, Chapter 3

***

But the characters do not stop thinking about the rebellion. Shinji wants to avenge his uncle and tries hacking into their Programme computer which is in a school. When he fails, he makes an explosive to blast off the school. He fails again.

Shinji might have also been successful if he had tried to look for more allies but he does not seem to trust people. His uncle had told:

‘It’s best not to trust groups and movements. They’re not very reliable.’

He even kills a friend, Keita Iijima when he feels that he would leak his plan of blowing up the school.

The conversation between Shogo Kawada, Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa provide insight into whether the rebellion would be successful. Shogo, who seems to know a lot, believes that people wouldn’t resist the government and a revolution for freedom may never occur. Their prosperity had made people oblivious to freedom. They believed in what the government believed: “controlled freedom is necessary for prosperity”. (Personally, I too feel this is true but I believe in soft control, unlike that of the RGEA.)

Even though Shogo has personal grudge against the government, he begins a rebellion by saving two people from the Programme and hijacking a military boat. Nanahara and Nakagawa are in the run in the book and the movie. Battle Royle 2 is the movie (I haven’t watched yet) in which the government has declared them as terrorists.

  1. Kindness and Love

The novel has a lot of moments in which one character says to another: “You’re kind.”

Shinji Minura helps Noriko Nakagawa during the briefing by Kinpatsu Sakamochi, when the bullet ricocheting through Yotitoki Kuninobu hits her leg. Shuya Nanahara helps Noriko after they are sent to the “battlefield”. Shogo Kawada helps both of them. And though Hiroki Sugimura cannot help as he would like to, he has also been described as kind. Hiroki is also the tragic hero, who dies at the hands of his beloved.

On the opposite spectrum are Kazuo Kiriyama and Mitsuko Souma. While Mitsuko’s backstory makes one sympathetic towards her, one can’t even sympathize at Kiriyama’s death. His apathy makes him a one dimensional character—one who is perfect and wants to win the battle. However, he does not succeed. Had he succeeded, kindness and love would have lost. Rebellion would have lost. Battle Royale would have ended in a darker note, with a loss of hope.

Sakura Ogawa and Kazhuhiko Yamamoto are among the first to die. I felt their suicide was a symbol of lost love. Mitsuko Souma is one of the girls who has involved in prostitution even before her puberty. The book says she was gang-raped, the movie shows her mother forcing her into prostitution. The way she acts during the battle was also the result of lost love. Hiroki’s loss is also an instance of love losing to fear.

So the one way to make love victorious was to save Noriko and Shuya. Shogo, who himself is a tragic hero from the previous battle, helps them. He had been their savior and their guide. It was extremely tragic that he died. Had he survived, it would have been a wonderful journey for the three.

  1. Mutual Respect among teachers and students

The theme of mutual respect is not prominent in the book. The movie is different in this respect. The whole Battle Royale Programme stems from a law (BR Act) to control the rebellious youth. The school students frequently bunk Kitano’s classes and attacks him with a knife in the corridor. When Kitano enters later as the Programme Supervisor, he seems to be taking a revenge.

However, the individual youth might have also been thinking: Why should I respect elders who don’t respect me? The characters have gone through a lot due to the neglect of the adults. Shuya has been an orphan when his father couldn’t bear the pain of poverty. Mitsuko has been pushed to prostitution by her own mother. Yoshitoki Kuninobu and Fumiyo Fujiyoshi are killed by Kitano against the rule and no one punished him, though he talks about following rules.

The second epilogue in the movie (Requiem II) shows the common dream of Noriko and Kitano. Noriko says she had taken the knife that had been used to attack him. He asks, “What am I supposed to say at this moment?” Though Kitano likes Noriko, and Noriko respects him, her statement is surprising. I felt that the complexity of the relation between adults and children is shown in that scene.

 

 

 

Battle Royale: PUBG, the movie, the novel

PUBG: “The original Battle Royale game”

PUBG_compressed

My best friend Anish introduced me to PUBG. The concept was simple. Maximum of 100 players dropped into an island fighting each other and the winner was the last one standing. It looked interesting but my phone could not meet its specifications. A couple of months later, Ashok (my friend from college) discovered an emulator for desktop. At least a dozen of us downloaded the emulator and the game. When the game downloaded, it said: “The original Battle Royale game is now installed on your device.”

The term “Battle Royale” intrigued me. I had seen the term before in Wikipedia when I read about the game but I had somehow skipped it. That time, I guess I only wanted to know why the game was popular. I did not give it another thought. While playing the game (and after going through a lot of “funny moments”, which were not so funny), a thought came into my mind, What if I could write a novel based on the game?

That’s why I looked if there was a novel like that. And (unfortunately for my creativity) I found the Japanese movie. Curious, I went through the Wikipedia, movie was actually inspired by a Japanese novel.

Battle Royale: The Movie (2000)

The Kinji Fukasaku movie destroyed my PUBG experience. It was unlike any of the games I had played. It felt scary, tumultuous, and even childish at times, but mostly it felt nauseous. I mean, who would be in a right state of mind when you are forced to kill your friends in an island. Crazy situation dictates crazy measures but the madness of the fifteen-year-olds disturbed me.

The movie, in my opinion, is not the best in terms of execution but the idea itself felt great. What would happen if 42 students are forced to kill each other in an island by the government? The question hooked me till the end. The outcome of the movie was not unexpected. I actually knew who were going to survive but still I hoped Kawada survived. The end of Kitano (former teacher and BR Programme Supervisor) too felt comical and I thought it could have been better.

Battle Royale: The Novel (1997)

battle royale

Koshun Takami, the author of the novel sent the book for a horror competition in 1996. The horror of being killed by your own friend is inexplicable but the book is more like dystopian adventure. The dispute of genre probably helped the book. Takami’s book became a best-seller and controversial because of its violence. It was banned in several countries. Even the Diet (Japanese legislature) was interested. Then later, it was made into a movie. I felt so excited when I read this history.

And I (wrongly) thought the movie was dark! The novel is even darker. It’s been inspired from the Pro Wrestling Battle Royale as described in the “Introduction” section. (You must have noticed a real long list of inspirations by now.) “I feel like puking,” Shuya Nanahara and Shogo Kawada say often in the book. That’s what I felt. Yes, the novel is even more nauseous than the book.

The book explains the motive behind the initiation of the Battle Royale Programme aka the Programme clearly than that in the movie. It goes in length inside the minds of each character to give the reader complete information about them. This scheme is great mostly and feels boring at times, but I love Takami for taking the risk. The end of the Programme Supervisor Kinapatsu Sakamochi is not comical but I did not feel the satisfaction. I wanted Nanahara to kill him instead of Kawada. Kawada did have personal issue with the government and Sakamochi is a government official but Nahahara had a personal vendetta against him. Sakamochi had raped his caretaker Anno and had killed his brotherly best friend, Yoshitoki Kuninobu.

Differences

Both the Battle Royale novel and the movie have the same basic premise: 42 students forced to kill each other by the government. However, the novel is about the revolt against atrocious Fascist government, while the movie is about the adult-teenagers (teacher-student) relationship. The attack on Kitano in the beginning and then his love for the disciplined Noriko (despite being the Program Supervisor) emphasize this. The movie also might have been made in a lighter tone to make it approvable for 15+.

The book is not just about the teenagers and the adults. It is about the system that has been economically successful but does not tolerate protest. Any protester is a threat to the government who is removed immediately. The Programme is about creating mistrust among people, to keep them divided and to rule upon them. It is a story of how three students deceive the government by trusting each other—an act that was totally unexpected in the state of chaos. Government is the villain in the book. Kinpatsu Sakamochi is only a scratch in a very long and webbed list of villains.

PUBG, on the other hand is a sort of distraction to the youth. A way to let out your frustration so that you can start something anew in an efficient manner. (I am reminded of Fight Club, which I watched today.) The game is addictive and I love the way it has been executed. However, in some years I feel it is going to fade away. I don’t know why. I just feel it. (Let’s say like Kawada’s sixth sense in the novel.)

To conclude this review…

I found the book and the movie influential, though the movie has a lot of issues. (Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino haven’t praised them just to make them popular.) Battle Royale also inspired gaming franchises, which will keep on increasing the popularity of both the book and the movie.

I still have a lot of things to say about Battle Royale—book and the movie, as well as some of the individual characters. I won’t include all of them here. I will come up with more essays on this topic. (That’s a sort of influence, isn’t it?)

पुस्तक समीक्षा : सेतो धरती

“भगवान् छ्न् नि !”

उपन्यासको अन्तिम संवादले मन उथलपुथल भयो । यसपछिका वाक्यहरूतिर मन जानै मानेन । आँखाले पढेँ, मनमा आएनन् । यही संवादमा उपन्यास सकिएको भए हुन्थ्यो जस्तो लाग्यो । चलचित्र भएको भए त्यो संवादको अन्त्यमा बुढेसकालमा भेटिएका दुई बालसखा देवघाटको एउटा कुटीमा गएको दृश्य “टप शट” बाट देखाइन्थ्यो होला । किन हो मेरो मनमा यस्तै दृश्य कैद भइदियो ।

Photo obtained from: Twitter.com/ageingnepal. No copyright infringement intended.

यो संवाद चानचुने होइन । उपन्यासकार अमर न्यौपानेको मन भेदेर उनलाई बालविधवाका विषयमा कलम चलाउन उत्प्रेरित गर्ने वाणी हुन् यी । त्यसैले पनि यही संवादमा “सेतो धरती”को अन्त्य भए हुन्थ्यो भन्ने लाग्यो ।

“भगवान् छ्न्” भन्दा वृद्ध ताराले आफूभित्रको भगवान् चिनेकी हुन् भनेर लेखकले प्रष्ट नलेखिदिएका भए वैचारिक बहस र विश्लेषण हुन्थ्यो होला यी तीन अक्षरलाई आधार बनाएर । उपन्यासकारले भने आफूलाई त्यो वाणी सुनाउने वृद्ध आमामै भगवान् देखे सायद ।

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तारा, यमुना, पवित्रा र गोविन्द

यी चार पात्र एकै ठाउँबाट छुट्टिन्छ्न् अनि भेटिनछ्न् एकै ठाउँमा । भिन्नभिन्न शैलीबाट जीवन बाँचेका यी पात्रहरू अन्तिम क्षणमा भगवान् समीप पुगेका छन् । उपन्यासमा भनिएझैँ यी पात्रहरू नदी हुन् जो देवघाटरूपी तलाउमा बग्दै आइपुगेका छन् । अब त्यहाँबाट एउटा मात्रै बाटो छ । माथी । अर्थात्, मृत्युु । यमुना, पवित्र र गोविन्दसँग ताराको बिछोड र संगमले उपन्यास “फुल सर्कल” (Full circle) बनेको छ ।

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वैवाहिक प्रचलन: केही अकल्पनीय परिदृश्य

“सेतो धरती” बालविधवाका विषयमा लेखिएकाले यसमा बालविवाहको प्रसङ्ग स्वतः आउने नै भयो । पाँच वर्षकी बालिकाको (ताराकी बहिनी) समेत विवाह हुने कुरा मनै चिर्ने खालको छ । तारा आफैँ सात वर्षकी भएकाले उसका लागि विवाह पूजा, खेल र सपनाजस्तो भयो । तर खेलजस्तो विवाहले उसको जीवन नै वर्वाद भयो ।

आफ्नो जेठो छोराको उमेरकी केटीसँग जब ताराको “बा”ले बिहे गर्छ, चकित हुन्छु । तारालाई समाजले अर्को बिहे गर्न रोक्छ । तर ताराभन्दा कान्छी केटी बिहे गर्न समाजले उसका बालाई उकास्छ । उसका बा पनि राजी हुन्छन् ।

यस्तो अनमेल विवाहले ल्याउँछ अनौठो परिदृश्य । एकै उमेरका ताराका जेठो भाइ र “सौतेनी आमा” खेल्छन् बिहेको खेल । उमेर बढेसँगै उनीहरूको जिस्काई र हिमचिम देखेर तारा गर्छे शंका । सौतेनी आमाको पहिलो छोरामा देख्छे आफ्नो भाइको रूप !

बहुविवाहका प्रसङ्ग पनि उपन्यासमा आएका छ्न् । एउटीलाई पाउन पहिले अर्कीलाई बिहे गर्ने यमुनाको पति अनि गाउँकी दुलहीलाई अनपढ भनेर “आधुनिक” शहरीया बिहे गर्ने गोविन्द दुवै विकृत मानसिकताका उपज हुन् ।

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यौनिकता र मातृत्व

“कपडा नलगाउँदा सधुवा र ममा के फरक छ र ?” ताराले गरेको यो प्रश्न उनीमाथि समाजले लगाएको बन्देजको उपज हो । कुण्ठित उसको मनले सधैँ उसलाई पिरोलेको छ । उनमा सन्तान जन्माउने क्षमता हुँदाहुँदै समाजले बनाएको दायराले गर्दा ऊ सन्तान जन्माउन पाउँदिन । उनको मातृत्व समाजलाई अपाच्री हुन्छ । समाजले उनलाई बाँधेर राखेको छ ।

तारा को ठीक विपरीत छे पवित्रा । ऊ समाजको जञ्जीर तोडेर नर्तकी, वेश्या, र एकल आमा पनि बन्छे । जीवनको उत्तरार्धमा ऊ कुण्ठारहित जीवन बाँच्दछे । पवित्राका भोगाई र यमुनाको वैवाहिक जीवनको प्रसङ्गहरूले ताराका कुण्ठित मनको वेदना छ्ताछुल्ल पारिदिएका छ्न् ।

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अन्त्यमा,

उपन्यासमा केही कुराहरू दोहोरिएका जस्ता लाग्छन् भने केही कुरा अधुरा । जस्तै, यमुनाको यौन जीवनका कुराहरू दोहोरिएर आएका छन् । त्यस्तै, एकपटक आफ्नी बहिनी भेट्न भनी गएकी तारा बहिनीको घरै पुग्दिन । उता, वर्षौँदेखी हराएको ताराको कान्छो भाइ देवघाटमा आइपुग्छ तर उसको कहानी थाहा नपाउँदा त्यो कुरा नै नभनिएको भए हुन्थ्यो जस्तो लाग्छ ।

सामान्य कथा बोकेको सामान्य शब्दहरूमा लेखिएको “सेतो धरती” सामान्य उपन्यास भने होइन । लेखक न्यौपानेले भनेझैँ यो अनुभूतिमुलक आख्यान भएकाले नै यो सशक्त बन्न सकेको हो ।

***

“सेतो धरती”

विधा: उपन्यास

लेखक: अमर न्यौपाने

पृष्ठ: ३७३

“So it goes!”: A take on Slaughterhouse Five

I had never heard about Dresden, I had never heard about Kurt Vonnegut though I think I had heard the book’s name somewhere (I am not so sure) before I watched the Crash Course Literature videos on Slaughterhouse Five. At the end of those two videos, I felt I must read the book.

The first chapter of the book which seems like a preface or the background, is about Vonnegut trying to write a book on Dresden for more than 23 years. He thinks he can do it but cannot pull it up. While still writing the preface, he also adds a case of dialing a wrong number, which we know later on,  had been received by Billy Pilgrim–the main character of the novel. After he meets O’Hare’s wife Mary, he promises that he would not glorify war and call it the Children’s Crusade. Therefore, the Slaughterhouse Five is also known as The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death.

Billy Pilgrim’s Plot (Summary and Analysis)

Billy Prilgrim is a prisoner of war (POW) in Germany but he can time-travel. He can be in the moments of past, present and the future. Vonnegut says, “Billy has come unstuck in time.” The life of Billy Pilgrim is not shown in chronological order. In one moment he is a soldier, in another he is a twelve-year-old boy and quickly, he becomes an old optometrist who lives with his daughter in Ilium. He sees his infancy, childhood, adulthood, old age and even death.

On the day of his daughter’s wedding, he says he had been abducted by the toilet plunger-like aliens known as the Tralfamadorians. Billy says that he had been to the alien planet for years but nobody missed him because the aliens had warped the time in such a way that years would become less than seconds on the earth. The Tralfamadorians are able to see the fourth dimension–time and they can go to the moments again and again. The linear concept of time is absurd to them. On free-will, a Tralfamadorian says:

“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by ‘free will.’ I’ve visited thirty-one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”

–Chapter 4, Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

The Tralfamadorians believe that what has to happen will happen. They cannot change the moments that have happened and will happen. They can see every moment that will occur but they can’t change the bad moments. They look for the good moments and find peace in it.

Billy Pilgrim himself has no free will. When he is twelve, he does not want to swim but his father forces him into the swimming pool. He does not want to come out of the water but it pulled out. He did not imagine marrying Valencia, yet he does. He wanted to die in the war but he survives instead of the characters around him who wanted to survive.

Billy Pilgrim also tries to find moment of happiness and solace but he never finds such an instance. In all the above examples, he is unhappy. Even in the moments he tries to be happy, he is reminded of the war and deaths. As the story progresses, we know that Billy cannot speak about the war to anyone and that has resulted in a mental disorder.

Billy’s mental instability is the result of the losses of his mother, his wife, his father-in-law and most of all, his experience during the war in Germany and in addition to that the fictions of Kilgore Trout. Despite his psychological imbalance, he is saner than the people who thought that bombings on Dresden were justified. Dresden was not a strategic point for warfare, there were no industries that produced weapons and hence, there was no logic behind the attack. Thousands of lives were lost for the show of unnecessary pride.

“So it goes”

This is a repetitive phrase throughout the novel. According to Nick Greene (2014), the phrase is repeated 106 times. Whenever death and destruction are mentioned, the phrase comes up. It is in accordance with the Tralfamadorian concept of time, life and death. The death is inevitable but there is nothing to worry about it. In other moments a dead person would always be alive.

I found this “Tralfamadorian” concept similar to the Bhagavad Geeta where Lord Krishna says to Arjun that there is no need to worry for someone’s death. The death is pre-determined. It’s not in the hands of humans to change it. And there is no need for regretting that.

Billy Pilgrim, too tries to take things as his fate and accepts that he had no power to change them. But it’s too difficult to get out of the trauma he feels. “So it goes”, might give him solace for a while but it is not a statement he wants to follow. It’s been dictated upon him by fate.

Some Memorable Quotes:

“Billy had a framed prayer on his office wall which expressed his method for keeping going, even though he was unenthusiastic about living. A lot of patients who saw the prayer on Billy’s wall told him that it helped them to keep going, too. It went like this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.” Among the things Billy Pilgrim could not change were the past, the present, and the future.”

–Chapter 3, Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut

“Everything is all right, and everybody has to do exactly what he does. I learned that on Tralfamadore.”

–Billy Pilgrim

“It was peaceful in the ruins.”

“American fighter planes came in under the smoke to see if anything was moving down there. They saw Billy [who was also an American] and the rest moving down there. The planes sprayed them with machine-gun bullets, but the bullets missed.”

“The blind innkeeper said that the Americans could sleep in his stable that night, and he gave them soup and ersatz coffee and a little beer.

“Good night, Americans,” he said in German. “Sleep well.””

[Americans had destroyed Dresden only two days ago. These lines brought tears to my eyes.]

 

References:

SparkNotes Editors. (2002). SparkNote on Slaughterhouse-Five. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/slaughter/

Greene, N. (2014). 15 Facts About Slaughterhouse-Five. Retrieved September 10, 2017, from http://mentalfloss.com/article/58888/15-things-you-may-not-know-about-slaughterhouse-five/

पुस्तक समीक्षा: चीरहरण

गुरु व्यास जयन्तीको दिन गुरु व्यासको सबैभन्दा चर्चित कृति महाभारतमा आधारित चीरहरण पढेर सकियो । नीलम कार्की निहारिकाको यो नेपाली उपन्यास पढ्न सकिन्छ कि सकिँदैन भन्ने द्विविधा थियो सुरुमा । मैले आजसम्म पढेका मध्ये सबैभन्दा ठूलो हो यो पुस्तक । त्यही पनि कथानकमा जुन ‘फ्लो’ छ, त्यसले ५२२ पृष्ठ पढ्न धेरै समय लागेन ।

चीरहरण महाभारतभन्दा पृथक छ र छैन पनि । पृथक यस अर्थमा छ कि यसले महाभारतका नारीपात्रहरूका सुख, दुःख, पीडा र समस्याहरू देखाइएको छ । पृथक यस अर्थमा छैन कि यसले महाभारतको कथा (मैले जानेसम्म) परिवर्तन गरेको छैन । महाभारतमा रहेका जादुमयी कुराहरू, उदाहरणका लागि गुरु व्यासको जन्म, लाई जस्ताको तस्तै प्रस्तुत गरिएको छ ।

उपन्यासको सुरुवात जादुमयी छ । कुनै जलाशयमा सुभद्राबाहेकका सबै पात्रहरू आएका छन् । पालैपालो आफ्ना कथाहरू राख्छन् । पहिलो पुस्ताको पात्र सत्यवतिबाट महाभारतको कथा सुरु हुन्छ । दोस्रो पुस्ताको प्रतिनिधित्व अम्बिका र अम्बालिकाले गरेका छन् । तेस्रो पुस्ता कुन्ती र गान्धारी अनि चौथो पुस्ताका नारीका रूपमा द्रौपदी, चित्राङ्गदा, उलूपी र भानुमती वक्ताका रूपमा आउँछन् ।

पहिलो देखि चौथो पुस्ता (अझ पाँचौं) सम्म आइपुग्दा नारीले भोग्ने समस्या उस्तै छन् । सत्यवतीको वर्णन पढ्दा पीडा, आश्चर्य र साहनुभूतिका भावना जाग्छन् । अम्बाको पीडामा आँसु बग्छन् । अम्बिका र अम्बालिकाले पतिको मृत्यु पछि व्याससँग गर्ने नियोगका बारेमा जानकार हुँदाहुँदै पनि मलाई चकित पारिदियो । गान्धारीको हठात् गरेको आँखामा पट्टी बाँध्ने प्रणले पारेको असरको बारेमा सायदै कसैले याद गरेका होलान् । अनि कुन्ती र माद्रीले भोग्नुपरेका दु:ख र पतिको मृत्युमा सती जानुपर्ने विषयमा भएका वादविवाद र मत-मतान्तर दु:खद छन् ।

उपन्यासको आधाभन्दा बढी भाग द्रौपदीको कथाले लिएको छ । शिर्षक नै चीरहरण भएको र महाभारतको पनि क्लाइमेक्स द्रौपदीसँग जोडिएकाले होला । द्रौपदीको इतिहासमा पीडा, क्रोध र विद्रोह छ ।

उपन्यास समग्रमा विद्रोही किसिमको छ । पात्रहरूमा बारम्बार विद्रोहको आकांक्षा आउँछन् तर फेरि धर्म र कर्मको नाममा दबिन्छन् । सबै पात्रहरूले कुनै न कुनै समयमा सम्झौता गर्छन् । चीरहरणले धर्म र बाध्यता को नाममा महिलाप्रति हुने विभेद र अत्याचारका विरुद्धमा धावा बोलेको छ ।

उपन्यास राम्रो हुँदाहुँदै पनि बारम्बार दोहोरिने वाक्य, वाक्यांश र संवादले अलि झिंझो लाग्छ । उपन्यासमा थुप्रै गल्ती पनि भेटियो । ५२२ पृष्ठ सम्पादन गर्नु सजिलो कुरा होइन तर गल्ती नभएको भए अझ राम्रो हुने थियो ।

पुस्तकको नाम: चीरहरण

लेखक: नीलम कार्की निहारिका

पृष्ठ सङ्ख्या: ५२२