He fears that he may have cast too many slurs upon it, but writes, “…if I love my people, I can only tell them the truth about themselves so that they understand themselves better and live better and work better.” In Moscow he appreciates the “decent application of science and reason to the field of social and political organisation” and adds, “[t]he Brahmin merely preaches what Moscow actually practises.” He envies Soviet writers their government-funded Writers Unions.
While these receive crores of government patronage, Nepali writers don’t even have cowries and their cultural unions are “stepsons to cabinets.” Devkota describes writers in his own country as having been “pushed back by a political tide, started by ourselves, that has rushed so far ahead of us, towards exploitative heights that we are left behind merely like scum and filth.” What has been created, he says, is “a democracy without the people” in which “the ever frustrated, ever busy about nothing band of ruling personalities, temporarily installed on the cabinet chair with the sword of Damocles overhead, shuffle, shilly-shally, tell tales that ever end in smoke.” In the long essay, , Devkota pours out his anguish over the constraints of life in Nepal and the lack of any space or time for individuals to think of the greater, national good.
He had already been diagnosed with cancer and was admitted to a hospital in Moscow for several weeks of treatment.
In one of the longer essays, which compares his home city with Moscow, his depiction of the inequity, hypocrisy and corruption of Kathmandu society is piercing.
Padma Devkota suddenly published a collection of 30 essays his father had written in English in or around the year 1958, the penultimate year of his life.
The book contains some fascinating autobiographical fragments.
Devkota recalls that he “kicked away a Professor’s chair for Nepali literature in the Tri-Chandra College, Kathmandu” and “travelled with Mr.
Prem Kansakar through mountains and forests to join our political colleagues at Benares.” The poet “left behind him ‘a family of six, with a helpless wife and small children…
But these are minor flaws when set beside passages such as Devkota’s rhapsodic description of the coming of the rainclouds to the baking plains of north India.
But the most extraordinary feature of this collection of essays, surely, is its powerful resonance for present-day Nepal.