Kartikeya: Ushering Novelty in Children’s Literature by Mahesh Paudyal Mahesh Paudyal

Kartikeya Ghimire is not a new name in the field of Children’s Literature in Nepal. Honored with the prestigious Bal Hitakari Purashkar 2007, he also holds the distinction of being the youngest author on whose works a couple of dissertations have been written by graduates of post-graduate studies at Tribhuvan University. Equally acclaimed in picture stories and onstage storytelling, he represents an age, a milieu, a formidable height in children’s literature.

I reiterate what I wrote earlier about Ghimire: Ghimire in my opinion is a ‘poet’ of the heart. He is a poet, not because he writes in verses but because his narrative bears poetic traits: images, symbols, musicality and profound emotions. He is an author of the heart because his writings, particularly stories, pertain to a soft, delightful genre, and not to the teleological, didactic writing.

I came to know of this gifted author in early 2001. An immediate admirer of his creation, I read around two hundred of his stories, out of which 25 were translated into English by friends Dhiraj Baral and Bibhor Baral in 2006 and were collected under the anthology Piriri’s Patriotism published by Ratna Pustak Bhandar under my editorship. More stories followed in quick succession, and reshuffling the new and the old ones, two anthologies The Tale of Master Pumpkin and The Flying Duster got published, once again under my editorship.

However, Kartikeya’s pen turned out to be a stubborn one for good: it would not stop. Interestingly enough, the prodigally flowing stories from his nib promised a better understanding of the changing time and the changing trends in children’s literature in the world.  They inundated the media, both print and online, and here, we have this collection.

This collection has some stories from the earlier anthology, and some freshly translated. To assess the leap the author’s writing has taken over the few years, one can compare two his stories: “Frog’s Democracy” and “A Recurrent Drama that Ended Soon.”  Conspicuously, there is a huge leap from parable or fairy-tale type stories to modern theme with an acute awareness of contemporaneity. His later stories encompass conflict, displacement, human rights, political corruption, nepotism and such other contemporary topics. Few authors have been able to do this in Nepalese children’s literature that is still plagued by the traditional, moral agenda. I am not against that agenda, but I believe, modern children growing up at modern times do not believe such false fable-type promises and something that the reader doesn’t believe or accept cognitively, is a trash.

The profundity of feelings, emotion and lesson Kartikeya’s later stories promise cannot be translated into any language. They are special and unique in themselves. It is probable that the translation at places has killed the genuineness of his creation. I take the responsibility for the mismatch, and pledge to make attempts to redeem them in future.