Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions Chandra. Where in Nepal did you grow up and what was it like?
I was born in a hilly and remote village, in the district Gorkha of Nepal. My beginning days were spent there. Later, I went to Himanchal Pradesh (India) for my schooling with my father, who was in Indian army as a soldier in Gurkha Regiment.
Himanchal Pradesh is a hilly state in the Northern part of India. There are no climatic and topographic distinctions between my birthplace and Himanchal Pradesh e.g., the rivers, hilly slopes, jungles, vegetation etc., were the same. The hilly people with natural simplicity and innocence were not different at all to people of my village. These can be counted as the good things of my childhood days. The bad things were geographical distances with my family members, especially with mother. That made me experience solitude and deprived of many social connections.
Were there things growing up that still influences your writing now?
Yes, a lot of things were there that provoked me into writing. Away from mother and motherland, the loneliness I experienced in the school days, the shortages of various natures made me a sensitive and quite lad. I liked to remain alone and stay away from the circle of friends. Then I started enjoying loneliness and my own private world. The emotions and thoughts thus created are the strongest urge in my writings.
Later on, the autocracy of the Kingdom of Nepal that was put an end to in the year 2008, the Maoist insurgency that took lives of about 17,000 people, poverty prevailing in the society, faulty Government bodies and corrupted politicians are central subjects of my writing.
Can you remember writing at school?
Yes, I wrote inspired by the rhymed poems in my school text books of those days. I remember sending my poems to the local dailies for publication. But they were published only one or two times. But my love for poems was always in my heart. I remember writing and reciting a poem about my friends at farewell party on the last day of school.
Did you have a love of words back then?
After my school days, I don’t remember writing poems for long; I was busy with college and working life. But my love for books was still breathing and I used to read magazines and the poems. But I didn’t write poems in those days. During college days, I was working as a full-time school teacher in Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal. After teaching hours, I gave tuitions for extra earnings to meet my college expenses. Thus life was hectic and struggling. I attended morning classes in the college. So, there was little time for reading, writing and attending poetry programs during those college days of my life.
I got inclined towards poems once again after the age of 30 when I was away from my home and home country to work in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during 2002. The home sickness, leisure and love for poetry inspired me to write again. After that, in the year of 2007 came my first poetry collection in Nepali literally titled: His Heart Hath Not His Country’s Map. I currently work with a construction company in Bahrain and so, after my duty hours, whatever time is allotted for writing is for my poetry work.
What projects you are currently working on?
These days, I am editing/rewriting my own poems as preparing for my second anthology. Also, I am engaged in translating them in other languages. Time to time, I am translating other poets as well.
What really inspires you?
It is not that I write poems about anything coming to my mind or attracts me. A lot of things persuade me, but I write only on those which are mainly appealing. I write poems on social and political issues; the predicament of human life, people around me, and present deficiencies of humanity are subjects of my poems.
What is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration, or idea, into actual words on paper?
Firstly, an idea of the new poem creeps in my mind inspired by some incident, it happens all of sudden, but I dig up ideas in most of the cases after reading the works of other poets. Then I start converting this idea into a poem. Initially, a draft work then a lot of rewritings to polish it further.
Do you have a particular writing location?
No fixed time and location. Generally, in front of my laptop whenever I find time because my poems are never completed in one sitting. I work on two or three new poems at the same time. I take out and insert the metaphors/words from one poem to another, as required. I have found most of the themes are generated when I am travelling alone. Also, reading other poets’ works give me new themes.
Are there challenges associated with writing in your mother tongue?
Yes, many poets who are writing in their mother tongues are not exposed well to lovers of poetry. Their works are rarely translated, and they don’t have publishing opportunities for their poems that others may have; poets writing in English have clear advantage over those writing in their native languages. However, I have translated Hindi and English poems into the Nepali language. Also, I’ve translated many Nepali poems into Hindi. I find translation is very much important for the promotion and preservation of good poems and poets.
What are your plans for the future ?
I wish to work with my fellow poets, starting a poetry circle and organizing poetry symposiums, seminars, interactions and programs from time to time.
Lastly…what does writing MEAN to you?
Writing is an act of expressing oneself. The poets write mostly about their life experiences, memorable moments and own perspectives. The writing is a journey within for exploring oneself. For me, writing poems is like pouring out my own feelings and emotions. Also, it is like fulfilling my duties towards fellow people, society and country. Writings can be for self pleasure or social purposes. In most of the cases, writing starts as hobby but gradually it becomes social duty as more responsibility comes along the serious writing.