Seeing human life in nature

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Born on 27 January in the year 1968, Bhisma Upreti is a unique Nepal poet. Living in Kathmandu he is well-versed in the languages; Nepali, English, and Hindi. He mainly writes in Nepali and has taken part in many literary events with the SAARC Literary Festival. Highly recognised and winning many awards from the Nepal literary societies Upreti has inked down many poetry books as well as novels. Upreti is also popular among the Nepal literary societies as a travel diary writer. Allowing Sinhala readers to enjoy Upreti’s poems for the first time, Chulananda Samaranayake has translated 40 poems by Upreti into Sinhala. The translation, Streams in the Mountain (Kandu Athara Diya Dahara) shows how Upreti has masterfully used environmental metaphors to evoke versatile set of emotions within the reader’s mind. It also shows how well-experienced translator Samaranayake is.

When a man loses his way in life he turns into a statue, a lifeless person without a dreaming soul. In Statue the narrator brings forth the theme of a lost human within the pathway of life. The only difference between a human and a statue is the soul rich with dreams. When let gone of such a soul any human will turn into a stone, a breathing lifeless body.      

When man loses his way

He becomes a statue

When the way ahead stretches further,

Destination shifts too, accordingly

To devise strategies to reach his goal

Man becomes more creative,

More visionary and dynamic

Yes, when man loses his way

He becomes a statue.

May I never be a statue,

Soulless

Standing erect!

In Commonality narrator captures the similarity within the daily struggle for survival of the common man and the survival of animals. One of the main themes underlying Upreti’s works is that he captures the beauty of life while portraying the irony of hardship within it. This is clearly evident within the poem Commonality. Caravan of mules are climbing a mountain heavy with luggage, and the narrator sees the similarity between the mules and the porters within the fight for their survival. Both sets are driven by hunger and drenched in sweat and thirst continues up on a mountain, imagining life will be restful for a while. This is none other than the Himalayan Mountains. While the cold weather acts mercilessly, both porters and mules are left with dreamless eyes and hopeless souls.

A caravan of mules

Just went past

Stirring dust as lovely as longings

And now,

Weary porters

Are scaling the trail with them!

Both have pain

Piled on their shoulders;

Both have no time for a bath;

Both are hungry and tired

Cold bites;

Dreamless eyes settle

Foul odours fill their nostrils

What a commonality!

The two share the same exhaustion

Perhaps you have been to the Himalayas too

Have you ever notices any difference

Between the mules and the porters?

In Beauty of Life narrator stumbles upon the truth of meeting reality and beauty of life within a random meeting with a set of children who longs for their photograph to be taken. Their innocent and endearing nature, evident within those eyes, is skilfully captured by the narrator who questions how well a photograph can capture every single emotion colouring a person’s life. Beauty of life is untouchable by the most advanced of technology. Mother Nature’s creations are more magnificent than any technology man made.

‘Please take our photo, uncle’

Children, who looked like budding faces of aspirations,

Spoke to me, their voice

Had an aura of hope and brightness

I stood them in a row

And took their photo

I looked at the photo

And at them

But in the photo

Missing was the lustre

That was in their eyes;

Missing was their smile

And the colour of it;

Missing was the voice of their heart

And the purity and warmth

In the photo

There were some figures

And merely a photo

I took the photo

But couldn’t portray

The inspiring

Beauty of their life

In Tree narrator personifies the story of a tree standing alone amidst the selfishness of humans which causes many a disaster such as the landslides and floods. Standing alone in such a way is not an easy task for a tree. Narrator questions the strength of lonely aspirations in standing alone in a selfish world. Narrator is a tree which is metaphorical to a human who stands alone among a malicious world destroyed by the greed of mankind. In such a world – just like a tree – the only thing which brings peace and silence is knowing that the roots of tree are deeper than what is seemingly. So is the silent man who stands alone been aware of their own depth of a rich soul.

People see me standing alone

Wind, sunshine

Landslides, floods

And like people’s poisonous black selfishness

In the midst of many adversities

It is very difficult to stand alone

Power alone

Lonely aspiration

And, effort alone

Where can strongly stand?

I know

I have many roots

Roots from under the ground

How they have supported me on the ground!

People see me standing alone

But where am I alone?

My strength and power

Are my roots

By Nisansala Dharmasena Bertholameuze