Lil Bahadur Chhetri, author of Basain
One of the successful novelists in Nepali language, Lil Bahadur Chhetri is popular for his lucid language, clarity in thoughts and coherent ideas and presentation. He presents issues, problems and paradoxes in what he sees and observes giving the readers choice of their own opinion rather than imposing his thoughts on readers. He describes the reality rather than saying what should be done and in the course of practice, he has exposed exploitation under feudal society and sorry state of Nepalese people wherever they live along with mentioning the two characteristics of the Nepalese society and class system under which two categories of people, the exploiters and exploited, live.
Born in Guwahati in Assam (India) in 1923, Chhetri is an Indian national of Nepali origin. He completed his Master’s degree and started teaching Economics in Guwahati, the headquarters of the state of Assam. Athough he had studied Assamese, Hindi and English languages, his interest always lay in Nepali, his mother tongue which he had mastered through self study. He had seen the plights and pain of other migrant Nepalese people in Assam, being a migrant himself. He felt the pain and understood the emotions people feels when they have to leave their motherland for economic, social and cultural reasons and shed blood for merely surviving. These hardships and circumstances which forced Nepali migrant workers to migrate to a foreign land persuaded Chhetri to write.
He was disappointed to discover the minimum presence of Nepali reading materials in Assam and during his discussions with his friends, they had also expressed the same thing. And some of his friends asked him to write in Nepali language as he was already interested in literature and used to write in Assamese and Hindi. After that, he began his journey into the field of Nepali literature.
He began with some short stories and essays in Nepali language as he had no clued where to begin or how to write. It was later that he decided to write a novel and he came up with his first novel Basain (Migration) which was considered as one of the most successful novels in Nepali literature. Published in 1957, the novel is also included in the curriculum of the Tribhuvan University. Since then, there has been no looking back and he has contributed many essays, short stories and novels to the Nepali literature.
Some of his works include three novels – Basain (later translated to English as Mountains Painted with Turmeric by Michael J. Hutt, in 2007), Atripta (Unfulfilled) in 1969 and Brahmaputra Ko Chheu Chhau (Banks of Brahmaputra), a collection of essays – Assam Ma Nepali Bhasako Sharogharo (Difficulties of Nepali Language in Assam), a play – Dobato (crossroads), and a short stories collection – Tindasak Bis Abhibyakti (Twenty Expressions in Three Decades).