The Novelist D. B. Gurung – A Voice for the Voiceless

Written, collected and edited by Ram Prasad Prasain

Voice represents the existence of certain section of human involved in the mainstream politics whereas voiceless refers to the peripheral voices which do not have influence in the mainstream. Voice plays important role in the socio-cultural activities. Nation and civil communities have their own forms of permitted speech codes of expression. Voices find expression only by mastering the rudimentary codes of those socially sanctioned speech conventions. Daniel Weintraub writes that voices are strongly outspoken as “part of alternative media, part of community organizer, and part of youth center”. Codes and symbols guide patterns and ways of life in the society. Certain degree of social civility and a mastery of a civil mode of address are required for the voices to acquire legitimacy. It is only by satisfying the demands of these civil linguistic codes that the subaltern voices can find their way into the public spheres.

The novelist portrays the bitter reality of secluded, marginalized and subaltern voices in his novel through a sober protest of human reasoning. He presents and acknowledges the plight of heroic struggle and resistance for the identity and space of one’s roots. The voiceless comprises of women, children, refugees, little girls, many young people, old people, and the ethnic minority people. Their lives go unnoticed; their stories remain untold. One needs to look into their eyes and hear them speak.

People at the grassroots and in marginalized communities lead to unite and exercise for the resistance that contributes a space for their voice/s. People from margins should unite and involve themselves in participatory politics. Organization threads unity. The unity fastens the strength for public and individual recognition for having space.

The novel, Echoes of the Himalayas, deals with the social exclusion, marginalized, subalterns, of the untouchables, their economic plight, exploitation, misery, dreams, desires and their hope of liberation creating discourse in the public spheres through the legitimate form of literature.

Gurung’s novel voices the voiceless, empowers the powerless, breaks the culture of silence and expresses against the cultural hegemony. His mouthpiece Gagan accomplishes these activities through the establishment of ANNPO, an abbreviation of All Nepal Native People’s Organization, a political wing affiliated to natives. Ethnic and natives are economically poor, socially excluded and culturally silenced by Hindu-caste system in Nepal. Power holders control the means of economy, politics and volatility of social life. They exercise and entertain language, culture, religion and public sentiment to maintain their presence in power politics. Here, the novelist identifies and raises awareness on the issues of social injustice, inequality, and dehumanization through his writings, and especially here in this novel.

Gurung’s novel summarizes the sufferings of natives, ethnic people, downtrodden class and subalterns imposed by the elite class with their cruelties; a firm belief that by observing human values and developing awareness among all, many of the problems faced by the natives, subalterns and marginalized ones in existing social system can in no time be solved to a greater extent.

Literature has social responsibility; and the novelist emphasizes the voice of peripheral peoples. In an interview, the novelist says, “Circumstance has made him (Gagan) a crusader but not a rebel. Wait a minute, when one suffers injustice, why not he resorts to intellectual resistance against those who are not gods?”  It indicates ground reality of this novel with its intrinsic and extrinsic pattern of philosophy. Anger and dread remake Gagan a rebel. He resists against essential establishments of entire Nepal.

The resistance inspires him to enter in organized system that provides and enhances a space for him. He resists to exist; and exists to resist. Such resistance shatters the forte of dehumanized faces and liberates many oppressed ones. “A writer should be apolitical, non-partisan and unbiased so he can tell the truth, bash the evils and praise the good ones, and advocate for the voiceless for equality, justice and human dignity” Gurung opines. He affiliates to no political party. He always writes to voice the voiceless; and ignites political consciousness and civic sense.

He realizes and understands controversial terms with public reality and political rhetoric. He does not feel the de facto nationalism at the deprivation of his natural right to entitled to be an ideal citizen of the country. Nationalism, without respect and dignity of other people’s fundamental human rights, bears a hollow sentimentalism of verbosity and empty discourse.

The novel denotes writer’s historicity, situatedness, spatio-temporal dimension. Each art of work depicts an authorial blueprint of consciousness. Works and its authors are fully blended with human sensibilities. Tear and laughter, smiles and bruises, heartaches and headaches, falls and rises, etc., influence the aesthetic decorum. Culture, history, story, time and consciousness gush into creative aspects like in Gurung’s novel.

Gurung expresses the story of a sensitive and patriotic Gurkha who dies to defy the corrupt system of governance in the country of    his origin, and pays a heavy price for his filthy western ideas of rights and equality. It is a tale of raw human passions, of courage, disappointment and defiance to stoop before brute reality.

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