Valdosta Daily Times

Features

November 4, 2013

“Three Speakers from Nepal: VSU welcomes Apa Sherpa, Samrat Upadhyay, and Ubaraj Katawal”

(Continued)

VALDOSTA —

​“What do you want?” she asked.
​“Beautiful, beautiful,” the man said, pointing toward the room where the baby was sleeping.
​“No,” she said.
​“Beautiful, beautiful, he said again, shaking his head in admiration. “Lord Krishna,” he said, taking the glass of tea.  Shakuntala looked at him in distaste.  He did not know what a calamity the child had brought!
Desire, death, religious belief, how people think, feel, act—the rustle between what they say they believe and how they behave—such concerns link the narratives in Upadhyay’s collection, leading up to “The Great Man’s House,” in which a servant works for a businessman turned nirvana-seeker. This businessman has gone through Siddhartha’s stages-of-life.  He’s beginning to eschew ideas of financial transcendence for the life of a true seeker.  He works assiduously at reading the Upanishads, the Ramayana, and Buddhist sutras, while his manservant dusts the books' spines.  Such books elude him yet an innate capacity for empathy enriches his monotonous life in a passage echoing ideas from the New Testament: “I was always glad when my ailing master chose not to read in the evenings.  Never did I feel as satisfied and peaceful as when I massaged my master’s feet in the quiet of the evening and watched his face as he fell asleep.  Then I forget my own concerns: the distance I have drifted from my village, the thoughts of my dead wife. I was once again a child.”  
Rom Mohannarrates this story as a bystander with everything at stake (i.e. his servant job).  His businessman boss meditates, adopts vegetarianism, works on achieving “moksha,” or liberation from material craving, even though he runs one of the city’s prosperous hotels and has married an outspoken, brash, still healthy wife.
That is, for now.  

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