‘There’s a Carnival Today’ (English translation of aaja Ramita Cha [आज रमिता छ], 1964) is novel by respected Nepali language writer ‘Indra Bahadur Rai’ [इंद्र बहादुर राई ]. The novel focuses on life in Darjeeling, the center of India’s Nepali-speaking demography. Darjeeling’s history is shaped by two militant political movements: a labor union movement in the tea estates and a movement to break away from the state of West Bengal (India) for creation of an independent state: Gorkhaland (गोरखालैंड). Rai’s ‘There’s a Carnival Today’ bear witness to both these socio-political upheavals. Indra Bahadur Rai is his unique ‘leela lekhan’ style of Nepali literature, intricately connects the looses ends of dynamic changes happening in North Bengal hills after India’s partition and later.
English translation is done by Canada based author & translator Manjushree Thapa.
An excerpt :
“Back then, even passing out of high school was a major achievement. The high school exams were held in the court; the magistrate would preside over them and police constables would stand guard; only three or four students would be taking the exam. A huge crowd would gather in the court’s front yard just to stare at or peek at those taking the “matric” test. If they passed, they’d put them on rickshaws and cover them with garlands: they’d parade each matriculating student with a five-piece musical band. He’d have to decide which job to accept. The advice not to work in the police – which you still hear sometimes – is an echo of that era, when you could choose from any job. The offices would send peons to the bazaar to look for anyone who had studied up to the fifth or sixth class…”
Audio recording of the original Nepali novel is available here. Enjoy.