Khem Aryal is a writer of poetry and fiction, and past president of the Society of Nepali Writers in English. His works have appeared in several local publications and his previous poems in Kathmandu: Saga and Other Poems (2004) were well received.
The title poem in Epic Teashop describes random scenes as the teashop ﬁlls with travelers, each with a story. There’s the young “hero”, a microbus helper quietly sipping his tea: A courageous boy/who traveled to Kathmandu/at the age of eight/from a remote village of Dolakha/in search of food and clothes/and ended up as an Antaray,/a spirit free on the road. . . A group of excited heroes: Young boys on their way/to the lands of prosperity,/ Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. . . Other boys are there who pick plastic out of garbage to recycle, for a pittance. And an old man who’s in the city to ﬁle a case against his neighbor. And a vegetable seller. And A dog, damn satisﬁed/with his fate. . .
Somewhere in the midst of all this free verse you can see another hero,/who aspires to be a writer,/drinking tea at another corner/brooding over a piece of paper. . .” Is it the poet himself, perhaps?
Aryal’s poems are about everyday events and people – happy, sad, mun¬dane, joyous, traumatic. They include ‘Truth about myself ’, ‘Death at Pash¬upathi’, ‘Midnight shower’, ‘A young man at the crossroads’, ‘When I am old’’ and ‘A poem for love’.
There’s also ‘The puppet-master’, with a twist:
...What is a puppeteer
without a puppet?
A puppet makes
a puppeteer’s face smile,
his mouth speak,
his mind think. . .
a puppet becomes a puppeteer;
a puppeteer becomes a puppet.
A puppet and a puppeteer
live a half of the other. . .
Aryal’s poems evoke emotions of the ordinary, the everyday and the unique. No great philosophical ruminations here, just common scenes in verse by a sensitive soul. It’s a quick read, then, mark your favorites to read aloud to a friend.
Vajra Publications (Kathmandu), 2009, 78pp. (35 poems), Rs.300. The poet is currently in the USA pursuing a PhD in English. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.