Shankar Lamichhane


Mani Daju(brother),

You have asked me to give an article for the special issue of Samaj, especially by critiquing journalism and particularly ‘Samaj‘ itself. For about two hours, I have been flipping the pages of ‘Samaj’ from my collection and thinking of writing something. As a friend, you want me to review your work.

I continued thinking for two hours, but I couldn’t come up with anything worth publishing.You may say that it’s the right of Editor to decide the publish-worthiness of any content. However, my use of the word “worth publishing” here means a topic that people prefer to read. Let’s take your newspaper; death, accident, unusual suffering, pain, etc. are the ones that get prime coverage. Why do people like to read about others suffering, accident, and death? (If not so, then your paper should have gone out of business long ago).

Nowadays, I’m reading some bizarre books like; Stefan Zweig’s “The World of Yesterday,” Albert Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus” and Chitranjan Nepal’s “Bhimsen Thapa ra Tatkalin Nepal“. I think you get it, that I’m trying to study people’s feelings and perceptions towards death. Life is the starting point of studying death because death is also born with life. That moment when I was born was my first phase of death or my first step towards death, wasn’t it? So let’s talk about life today, and let’s try to know death.

Now it’s raining cats and dogs outside, and I’m sitting in the shop. Only just, a band of vehicles of ambassadors and ministers returned from a mourning ceremony of Nara Pratap Shah held at Ranjana. By sitting on the front-yard of Ganesh Temple across the street, a beggar-like person is killing the lice stuck in his underwear. A man, I knew but not by name, who sells meat all day is entering Ganesh temple by chanting hymns and carrying a prayer tray full of sandalwood and flowers. A dog is rubbing itself against the wall to satisfy its itching. One brown cow just passed by- someone had worshipped her putting tika on her forehead. The girls are carrying books under umbrellas, and a boy in a raincoat is just waiting for the school bus. A confused peon carrying mail-book is wandering he

Biranchi Poudyal

re and there around the junction.

And I have to write an article that will enrich Nepali literature, such an article, which should not degrade the standard of your paper, and Nepali people should enjoy reading it. But Mani Daju! I’m confused, and my heart is not stable. I am looking at everything happening before my eyes, and I’m not able to understand it.

I don’t understand why that lice was born when it had to die being crushed between two fingernails on the crease of underwear.Why does that man worship God and also take the life of innocent animals? Why is that dog barking if it’s destined to die with skin disease? If people worship a cow, why do they snatch and drink the share of milk preserved for her calf?

That young girl who is going to college carrying Agrawal’s ‘Theory of Economics,’ why is she studying, when she has to be a widow, maybe she has to elope or perhaps she is destined to become a prostitute- Maybe.With what hope is that boy going to school carrying loads of beliefs printed by others when one day he has to drown in Ranipokhari: by being worthless, by being the husband of a wife, father of 2-3 children and after competing with many other young guys? Why is that peon carrying enclosed letters when he does not know what’s inside it? Maybe someone’s termination letter, someone’s marriage invitation, or the news of someone’s death.

Did you get it, Mani Daju? All these details are of those people who are likely to get coverage in your newspaper. These are the headlines that occurred in my mind today: Sunday 10 am, 19 August 1963. But they are not important to you because they are still alive. If they die on the road or sink in Ranipokhari or are crushed by a vehicle, then you will hurl to the press, leaving your meal in the middle. Your pen will run on paper, your fingers will set the compositor, your machine will print the newspaper, and it will be sold per copy for five rupees. Same impression on every page: Death. The price of six lives- the dog, lice, worshipper, girl, boy, and peon- will all six of these be sold for just five rupees? The newspaper carrying news of their death will be printed, decayed, vanish, and get destroyed with time.

Mani Daju! Can’t it ever happen that you just print the news of birth? Can’t you some day print the cause of Bhimsen Thapa’s suicide? Can’t you abandon the editorial of bull and rain and narrate your true story? Can’t this ever happen that you will carry out a thorough probe of yourself and print your own importance?

You might be thinking that you are serving the country and people by running the newspaper. You might feel that there is a place for you in Nepali history, and it will remain for ever. You might feel that the world of journalism will never forget your contribution. My ignoramus Daju! That’s nonsense! The newspaper has always printed your name in that place where a black borderline separates you from the news. Do you know how many packs of dirt and feces your newspaper throws out of the window everyday? Do you know that? Do you? You don’t know anything. You don’t even know why you wrote an editorial on bull? You don’t know why you never wrote an editorial on Bhimsen Thapa? You don’t know why you write an editorial? You don’t know why you don’t write an editorial? Mani Daju! You don’t even know why you became an editor. You don’t know what profession you would have chosen,  if not an editor.

Your newspaper is the underwear of that beggar in which the lice are being crushed to death everyday by the finger of printing-treadle. I’m probably that infected dog; you’re probably the cow with tika on the forehead. Or you are a dog, I am a cow, or I am a lice, you are claws, or you are a worshipper, I am a goat or you letterman, or you girl and I’m a boy. You are anything; I’m also anything.

Just think of how much hope, faith, and courage were born in this world before you and me. Where are they now? How many martyrs and traitors were born before you and me- where are they today? What’s  the truth about Amar Singh? Where is the fact of history? Truth of truth? Can you tell me today, from where the imagination started in history and where has reality disappeared? Can you tell me the reality behind the news of suicide published in your newspaper? Why Ramecha or Krishnacha or XYZ person killed his children and wife before killing himself? Can you tell me the real cause of their deaths?

Mani Daju ! It’s useless. We always try to veil ourselves. We try to envelop the news of our own death by the news of others’ death. We try to coat our own beliefs by reading the beliefs of others. We try to cover the truth of our heart with devotion. I, who worships God, try to cover the color of goat’s blood on my finger with holy powder. You, who write an editorial on bull, is trying to cover your being as a cow. Editor Maniraj Upadhyaya is covering real Maniraj Upadhaya. Shankar Lamichhane is being covered by husband, father and businessman Shankar Lamichhane. You are committing suicide. I’m also committing suicide. Will not you and me be worthy of news without our deaths? Is the process of our suicides so insignificant that we don’t even want to think and write about it ourselves?

Mani Daju! How can I write an article in this state of mind? How can I create literature, how can I serve my motherland Nepal? How can I yell the slogan of nationalism when my slogan, my future, my belief, my termination letter, my promotion, my invitation, and my death are enclosed in that envelop? And a peon is carrying it, that peon who does not know the value of the envelope.

Leave it Mani Daju! What’s the need for publishing a special issue? I’ve nothing to say if you are determined to publish it?  This time I am unable to contribute an article- that’s it. Maybe next time, if I manage to escape from being the headline of your newspaper- maybe next year.

Please read the letter and tear it immediately.

Your brother,

Shankar Lamichhane.



Translated from the Nepali original by Biranchi Poudyal. He can be reached at