Mangalesh Dabral Reviews Chandra Gurung’s ‘My Father’s Face’

My father's Face

Dislocations can’t be compensated by relocations. People who get uprooted from their places due to various factors are hardly rehabilitated even if they are bestowed with better living conditions elsewhere.  Poems by Chandra Gurung, a young Nepali poet, who lives far away from his place of birth and mostly writes in Nepali, echo this sentiment with a deep sense of irony, but not without hope. His words are full of longings, remembrance of the places and people of his country. He keeps visualizing them and thereby keeping his dreams and hopes alive. He describes the smiles, laughter, excitements and luxuries in far-off lands where he has brought with him his hands, feet, eyes and lips, but the ‘heart that could harbor all this’ is left at home. Such feelings always keep him attached to his ‘home’, his kiths and kins and all the same reassure him.

My friend
This far-off land has everything:
Laughter, and
Only that
The heart that could safely harbor all these
Is left at home, far away

The title poem ‘My Father’s Face’ describes how the eyes of his father glitter like sun and moon, hiding every line of sorrow, but the poet feels delighted when someone tells him, ‘You look exactly your father.’ This semblance denotes to one of the most valuable inheritances one could aspire for.

On that face
Narrow are the eyes that read the world
Pug is the nose that looms with raised self-respect
Wrinkled are the cheeks where joys and sorrows glide
Chapped are the lips, where smiles stage a march-past
And the entire Mongol identity has been smoldered by heat.

But I am delightful
Happy beyond telling
When everyone says
“You look exactly like your father.”

Irony and satire are said to be the most effective poetic instruments for dissecting the contemporary realities in literature, and poetry in particular. Chandra Gurung applies this technique when he looks at personal and socio-political phenomena and the tragedy of the middle class who feels happy because

Nothing ever tortures my heart
I don’t meddle in others’ affairs
And keep myself away from such trifling hassles
And thus, do not bother myself in vain
It’s true
Everything is fine.

In these lines, one can see the mindset of the vast and status quo middle class that have emerged all worlds over post-globalization. In one of his poems, Chandra uses the metaphor of an old lamp-post whose fused bulb has not been changed, who looks like ‘a warrior with injured eye’ and ironically reminds him of his own country.

Some rioters
Passing along this street
Are pelting stones on the old lamp post
They break the bulbs and flee
And the lamppost broods with fused bulb
Like a warring soldier injured in the eye

But, above all, Chandra is a poet of hope and struggle as, in one of his poems, he says:

Don’t allow an easy fall
To the tears falling from your eyes
Let some dust of rage rise from the floor
Where the drops fall
Let dissatisfaction take a few steps
Let some hands rise in dissent.

Likewise, we can pin our hopes on his future endeavors as a very promising poet.

About the Author

Chandra Gurung was born in a remote village in the district of Gorkha in Nepal. He is currently working in The Kingdom of Bahrain
He has a deep passion for poetry. He is also active as a translator of poems from English, Arabic and Hindi into Nepali. My Father’s Face from Rubric Publishing, New Delhi is his second poetry collection. His first poetry collection in Nepali was published in 2007. His works have been published in several print and on-line publications.

Title: My Father’s Face
Author: Chandra Gurung
Publisher / Imprint: Rubric Publishing, New Delhi, India.
Available: Amazon

Reviewer’s Bio

Manglesh Dabral is a poet, journalist and translator. He is the author of five collections of poems, two collections of literary essays and sociocultural commentary, and a book of conversations. He also published a travel account of his experiences in the USA, where he resided for three months as a University of Iowa International Writing Program Fellow in 1991. His poems have been widely translated, and a selection from his collection, This Number Does Not Exist, was published by Poetrywala in India and BOA Editios, Rochester, New York. He has participated in numerous poetry festivals in India and Europe, and one of his poems was engraved at the entrance door of the city centre in Eislingen, Germany.