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Parijat: शिरिषको फूल (Blue Mimosa)

This is the best-known novel of the Indian-born, Nepali writer Parijat and, while a short and fairly simple tale, it is very well told. The narrator, Suyog Bir Singh, lives a solitary life. He had fought in World War II and though, as he says, he had not killed anyone, it had had an effect on him. He is now, as he says, empty. He works part-time for the government when he needs to. Apart from that, he seems to be an alcoholic. He meets a man, Shiva Raj, who shares his house with his widowed mother and three younger, unmarried sisters, Mujura, Sakambari (known as Bari) and Sanu. The two men become friends, frequently meeting at their favourite bar, where they drink too much but Suyog is frequently invited to Shiva’s house where he meets and gets to know the three sisters. Much of the novel concerns his growing acquaintance with the three women, particularly with Bari. Bari is headstrong, contrary and aggressive. He feels that he is attracted to her but any approach is repulsed. For example, on one occasion, he says how much he likes her long hair. The next time they meet, he finds that she has cut her hair very short. This sort of behaviour happens over and over again, so much so that Suyog finds it difficult to know what to do.

But there is another side to Suyog. He has said that he had a fairly conventional war but this turns out not be the case. He committed an atrocity while in Burma and later he and his troop barely escaped alive from the Japanese, with Suyog contracting both malaria and dysentery. While in Burma, he had met a woman, Matinchi, and she was very keen on him but he callously abandons her. It is these events that have turned him to drink and made him the solitary, empty man that he is. It is not a happy book and nor is it a happy ending. But Parijat tells her story well and gives a powerful impression of a man who has really lost his way and does not seem to know how to find it.

Publishing history

First published in 1965 by Sājhā Prakāśana
First English translation by Sondra Zeidenstein in 1972
Translated by Tanka Vilas Varya