By Sanu Ghimire, Sydney
“If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing,” so goes the popular saying. Unfortunately, things do not work for me that way. Every time I sing, Sid, my friend, yells out to me, “Stop. Please! You cannot be a singer in this life.”
So, when I am home by myself I happily sing away, to my heart’s content, drawing on the voice hiding deep within. I follow my own rhythm, notes and beats. I sing for myself. Pure bliss.
On rare occasions, Sid asks me to recite my poetry. I know he can not appreciate the nuanced and layered meanings of verse but I oblige any way. I stand in front of him and begin to recite my creations, as he listens, trying to make sense of my allegory. Then begin questions about the meaning of almost each and every stanza of my poem. I tell him point blank,“Poetry is not your cup of tea.”
This tells me that somehow both of us are born artistic but our canvases are different. Just as he does not understand my poetic language, I do not know his colours. He does not know my sketch, I do not know his canvas. The ‘Jack of all’ principle does not extend to art it seems!
My life took a 360 degree turn in 2008 when I arrived in Australia. I had no plans to come here, I must be honest. I never imagined about this country. Preferences included the Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty may be. Harbour Bridge and Opera House did not feature in those youthful dreams. But somehow I landed here. Elderly people call it ‘destiny’. Now I believe it.
It was an emotional phase of my life. I missed my family and hometown, as do all newly-arrive immigrants. The challenge of finding a job aggravated this homesickness. I had a remarkable degree, solid experience and multiple talents but the new land was not ready to acknowledge them. Potential employers always asked for particular skillset. My skills weren’t up to the mark for them.
It was then that my suddenly untapped energy got sidetracked into poetry. Social media was coming up strong around that time and soon became a popular means of mass communication. I embraced it. It became my personal media outlet. So I did not even require a formal platform. I used to read, write and post in social media which helped unleash my creativity. It continued for three years and gradually I started representing Australian Nepalese community. It is worth-mentioning here that when it came to female writers of the global Nepalese diaspora, Australia was virtually non-existent when I arrived in the country.
The idea of publishing a book took hold of me. I thought publishing a book was the minimum parameter to get recognition as a writer at international level. So I decided to flow with the time.
As a result, “Grahan” which means ‘eclipse’ in Nepalese, was published. The moon, sun and earth come in a straight line for the phenomenon of eclipse to occur. Similar event took place in my life too, the eclipse of my life. I met someone who also was in that straight line with me and therefore, we could not hide our faces from each other. But we both moved, scenarios moved, the eclipse ended and we fell apart. Deep inside, I feel eclipse will come back in our lives, and we will see each other again. Because the earth is round and the solar system is moveable, everything is in constant movement. We have no command over who see or how many times we see the ones we see. We cannot be too sure who we meet in life, once or how many times. But it really does not matter. Every eclipse is unique.
Back in Nepal, people say everyone falls in love and becomes a poet at some stage in life. Love becomes the muse – the main source of poetry. And of course, the so-called tragedy, another source of poetry. After I began writing, my perception of this ‘theory’ changed. If you really love someone, you never feel tragic. You should not. If you feel tragic, that is, if you see tragedy in your life after falling in love with someone, then you never fell in love. You were merely infatuated.
Grahan beautifully arrests these experiences of my young heart as it went through an emotional rollercoaster in this distant country.
I recently received some national and international awards given within the context of Nepalese literature. They are all in appreciation of my poetry collection, Grahan. The renown critic of Nepalese literature, Lila Luintel, said I was the only Woman littérateur who represented the diaspora literature from Australia. I was extremely moved when she gave evidence to prove her claim.
This recognition from a senior critic does not make me boastful. I have rather been humbled by it.
My poems are the witnesses of my experience, emotions and wisdom. Unlike my friend Sid, I do not choose the colours to work my canvas. My colours come spontaneously. My own canvas, unlike his, is getting bigger and more colourful by the day and I am totally in love with my canvas, that is, poetry.