Tomorrow,Wednesday is Laxmi Prasad Devkota’a 102nd birth anniversary. He is honored as “Mahakabi”, The Great Poet of Nepal.
I am not going to rumble on about his contributions to Nepal and Nepali literature. Let me share some personal stories instead.
I was first introduced to his work at school. Our Nepali teacher, big admirer of Devkota, read his poem and discussed his often tortured life at length.
Devkota was not a rich man and his integrity and honesty did not allow him to go all gaga for the repressive Rana regime. Life was tough, but he kept his intellectual and moral soul intact.
I saw him as a pillar of strength and faith, and would often wonder- perhaps a reflection of my tween fantasy, why Devkota was not considered for Nobel Prize for Literature.
Couple of years later when I learned that the Nobel committee ignored Gandhi for years, and permanently stained the Prize’s illustrious history; I accepted that not every great soul gets their due. In case of Devkota, this is especially true.
He was forced to “share” his work, for paltry amount( if he was lucky); some of his writings were credited to poets and novelists who sought to push their luck at his expense.
Our Nepali teacher showed us Devkota, a tortured genius who tried his best.
Devkota, the tutor
My mother showed me personal side of the great poet.
My grandfather was lucky to be among a group of students tutored by Devkota.
A chain smoker, his room used to be littered with cigarette butts and short masterpieces he scribbled in a hurry behind the empty cigarette packs.
Always loving and generous, he was an attentive teacher but sometimes seemed lost in a maze of a world that failed to understand him, or may be chose to do so.
His genius though always shining brightly, though the holes poverty and apathy had poked around him.
Tomorrow is his 102nd birth anniversary. Nepali language has gone through many changes since he left this world. Today if you read a Nepali newspaper, magazine or a book; you will see English and Hindi words are sprinkled in more liberally and the grammar standards are far too relaxed. A sign of globalized times, perhaps.
And yet the love and enthusiasm for Nepali is burning in hearts of many. As long as this love is alive, Devkota will be remembered.