Palpasa Cafe by Narayan Wagle

Palpasa Cafe


“I wanted to understand how the quality and intensity of light could change a painting?”

Palpasa Café connotes an impeccable portrait overflowing with commemorative colours that transmutes chameleonic attributes.

Democracy subsists for the affluent and privileged .For others, it is an outlying hallucination; a hypothetical pedestal on which their country dwells upon. It is discomforting for me, to confess with sheer honesty for being just another quintessential hypocritical Indian. We belong to an assured breed who over endless servings of crème brûlée debates the prevalence of worldly pandemonium whilst willfully overlooking our own country’s tumult. Once in a while, amid the ritualistic swigs of espressos, an unexpected referring of a narrative like Palpasa Café freezes our rumination making us ponder about the unnamed lives that flicker and ebb into anonymity of political narcissism.

Nepal,to me is dewy splendor set in frosty Himalayas. Embellished with five seasons, it’s an utter portrayal of lush valleys and picturesque landscape. A neighboring country, Nepal not only shares ethnical and artistic similarities with India, but also docks a common thread of Maoist terrorism.

The Unified Communist Party of Nepal(Maoist(or UCPN(M),is a Nepalese political party which holds to the Maoist form of Communism. The Maoists announced a ‘People’s War’ on February 13, 1996, under the slogan: “Let us march ahead on the path of struggle towards establishing the people’s rule by wreaking the reactionary ruling system of state.: Maoists strongly believe in the philosophy of Mao Zedong who proclaimed, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Maoists also draw inspiration from the ‘Revolutionary Internationalist Movement’,Peru’s left wing guerrilla movement—the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path),and from radical communist parties in different parts of the world.

The Nepalese People’s War escalated after the 2001 Royal family massacre. Under-age recruitments and abductions of children and women were rampant raging a civil disobedience movement. Prevalent lives were expunged from acknowledgment to obscurity relenting to mere epigrammatic prints.

Wagle, a career journalist paints an image of a solitary artist-Drishya, a dreamer and absolute romantic. His rummaging for an arty inspiration embarks a flight of finding adoration in Palpasa- an enticing stranger he met on his travels and reunion through an old chum Siddhartha-an active guerrilla. Unknown opportunities impel him to dig up horrors of Maoist terror pockets witnessing discourteous etiquettes and naiveté of obtainable fatalities. The story line interlaces a delicate thread of a discontented love between the artist and Palpasa in the midst of the revulsion terror due to reconcilement of elapsed acquaintances. The psychosomatic booming of guerrillas is well presented from the subsequent explanatory verbatim:-

“How can you ever justify violence?” Drishya asks.
Siddhartha replies: “Without destroying you can’t build anew.”
“But people are dying,” Drishya pleads.
“The people don’t need peace, they need justice”, says his Maoist friend,“If there is justice there will be peace.”
“But you are carrying out injustices in the name of justice”,says Drishya one last time but it is clear the two can’t even agree to disagree.

Drishya’s tale is neither a celebratory epic nor memorable. It is a dais of numerous omitted mortalities that we perceive through distorted vision and venetian blinders.

That said, translation of any maiden language is torturous. Chiefly, laudable literature as it mislays the authenticity of the writer’s thought processes and crafts murkiness. The narration falters significantly generating imbalance of lucidity. For example:- the assassination of Siddhartha by the armed forces or the coming back of Palpasa into Drishya’s life did not make sense at all. The character presentation is feeble and a few of the conversations do get corny at times. This is what I despise of translated fictions. Just when the plot gets interesting the jagged potholes spring up distorting the essence of it all.

As, my spoon knocks the empty dish, I call on the maître d’ for an additional serving of Colombian espresso and crème brûlée. And our bourgeoisie conjectures continue….

3/5***

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