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I have recently read an interesting book named “Jiban Kada Ki Phool” written by Jhamak Kumari Ghimire, winner of Madan Puraskar-2068. It took her 4 years to complete and the book came in 2010. The book has been printed seven times in between two years making best Nepali seller. As the book is all about Jhamak Kumari Ghimire personal life, a girl who was born with disability thirty years ago and could not move her both hands limbs and feet. She could not speak either also.
In that time, girl child and women were not considered as human beings due to superstition. She has very vividly recorded her story of suffering and struggle for freeing herself from the status of an animal in her autobiography. This presentation is a brief account of how a child suffering from cerebral palsy by birth managed to fight to free herself from a state of absolute ignorance and hatred and could attract the attention of the world through literature, how she learned to read and write and what message she has given to parents, educators, society, medical practitioners of world.
Jhamak’s autobiography reveals the story of her struggle so poignantly and so boldly that one is shocked to read.
But Jhamak had to learn reading and writing entirely on her own, and words fail to describe the story of the ordeal and suffering she underwent while learning them. From her childhood, she was treated as a non-entity. Her family and other people called her “serpent” because she crawled on the ground.
Everyone who saw her pitied her, because she was no more than a vegetable that ate what was provided to her by her family, and did nothing else. People just wished for death, because that might be easier for her than to live. But all the time, Jhamak hated these outpourings of pity, and longed to reach out to the world. The determination to make her way out her way out of her shell of silence grew every day. Life was a curse in hell.
As she writes in her book, the most important event in her life is her incessant love for words and her struggle to learn them. She learnt words simply by hearing other people speak, and only after reading her accounts do we realize that it is so hard to learn when you are just listening and not speaking. These are tremendously powerful lines, because they shed light on the plight of Jhamak, and all other people in her situation. It is the only way that we can hear her viewpoints, and feel her struggle. That is the only way that we realize there is a problem in how we treat disabled people in our family first then in community, and that is the only way that we can start solving it.
Jhamak saw her siblings going to school, but no one gave a single thought to her education. She was desperate to communicate with the world, but had neither speech, nor gestures, nor words, to do so. She realized that her sister’s schoolbooks could be the key to her escape from her lonely world. Through her own effort and determination, she sneaked looks into her sister’s books, and the way her father taught her sister Mina, she learnt to write the first letter secretly, on her own without being noticed by others, writing them on the ground or dusty floor, sometimes with the help of charcoal when they were away. Thrilled with achievement, she wrote the first letter down on the mud, and waited for her family to recognize her achievement. Instead, no one even realized that she had written a letter on the ground, and life went on as usual for them. Her triumph was in vain, known only to her.
After much struggle, Jhamak was finally able to convince her family that she had started writing. Even then, nobody saw any point in her education, and she had to beg and plead to get a single notebook to write on. Inspired only by her strong determination, Jhamak continued to struggle until she began writing coherently with the help of the toes of left foot, and started sending out her creations to local newspapers. She thus explored the power of words and connected herself with a world of power made up of knowledge and information. Now she could communicate with the world. This lit a lamp and began to illuminate her rebellious heart. The language in the book is simple; in contrast, the sentiments she expressed in the book are so powerful and touchy. Overall, this book by Jhamak Kumari is a pleasant read.
In the end, what stands out is that Jhamak, despite her life being riddles with problems, still dares to call it a flower, and not a thorn, because in whatever form it is, life gives joy; and it is beautiful.
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