“Parijat”- Biography by Narendra Raj Prasai
According to Parijat, Darjeeling is the mountain kissed by the cold breath of Kanchanjungha. Yes, Parijat was born in Darjeeling in 1937 probably in the month of April-May in a tea garden called Lingya. Her real name was Bishnu Kumari Waiba. Besides that, the name a Lama had given her was Chheku Dolma. After coming of age, she changed her name given by her parents and the Lama and called herself Parijat, but the fact was that she only saw Parijat, the flower after she had come to Kathmandu. She liked the name Parijat and after learning that Parijat is not plucked from the plant but collected when it falls to the ground, she exchanged Bishnu Kumari Waiba with Parijat. It was with the name of Parijat that her literary fame spread gradually all over the country. It was with this name that she became immortal in Nepali Language literature.
Though her father was a resident of Darjeeling, his ancestral home was Sankhuwa Shabha of Chainpur. The grandfather, Dhanman Singh Waiba had visited India for the first time. Sardar Waiba was a rich person. Besides, Parijat’s father had previously worked in the Indian Army but when bad times started to descend gradually into Parijats household, their prosperity also began to decline, disappear and the family began to sink. Infact, there wasn’t anything else for them in Darjeeling. So, they could not come up with any particular source of income generation there. Though, there were a lot of financial problems for them, her father was a homeopathic doctor. It was he who supported the family any which way he could.
Parijat’s fathers name was K.S. Lama and her mother was Amrita Lama. Amrita Lama was K.S. Lama’s second wife. After the death of his first wife, K.S. Lama had married again. Parijat was the third child of the Lama couple. Eleven children were borne by Parijat’s two mothers.
Parijat used to fall ill frequently form early childhood. She would be defeated in quarrels and games with friends in school and home due to her being physically weak. Paralysis had started setting in since that time. Parijat was thirteen years of age when, for the first time, this complex disease attacked her. Since then, joint aches and pains affected Parijat a lot. Her father used to treat all of Parijats diseases. He was a doctor who had his own methods and principals. So, Parijat had not seen another proper medical practitioner up until 1954. Her father, due to his stubbornness had applied his medical skills on Parijat up until that time. Had Parijat been given good and proper treatment since her early childhood, she might not have had to lie in bed her entire life, was the opinion of the people then.
Though she used to be ill, Parijat was introspective from early childhood. She was also very obstinate. Parijat had said about her childhood- “My village was far from the town. My house was in the middle of the jungle. Perhaps, at that time I might have unconsciously wished to write, so I desired to walk in the forest. I wanted to sleep on the ridge of the stream and dance on the road. Not only this, I used to go all over the hillside, up and down and everywhere. At that time, all I wanted was to enjoy myself but was not able to write poetry.
At a time when everyone feels like going to school and learn, Parijat liked walking, going into the forest and passing her days going into the bushes and plucking and eating berries; she would get her dolls married, used to catch and fly crickets. She used to go in to the forest after collecting her friends and would bathe in the stream.
Since, her early childhood, her mind used to wander like a bird, hence, she was a wanderer right from her childhood. More often, she used to walk alone. She would be overjoyed with the pleasure of walking after getting wet in the water. So, she wanted to pass her time on the moon-bathed land. She desired to pass the night in an isolated corner of a garden. Besides, she desired to sleep at the resting spots for travelers. But as the days passed, her thoughts too began to become meaningless. As soon as the sun had set, she would be imprisoned. It seemed that her house had become a prison for her. She had to struggle many times to break free from the imprisonment. When she could not succeed in her endeavor to break free, she had to fight her parents a number of times. Due to various compulsions, helplessness and situations, her strong and bountiful energy was kept a captive. She had to put a lid over her desires to bring herself under control.
Parijat was expert in decorating the house and rooms from a very young age. She used to search for and bring beautiful flowers to fill and decorate the rooms of her house. She had this habit in Darjeeling and that continued even in Kathmandu. Noticing her love for flowers, one of her friends, Roop Chandra Bist used to joke about it repeatedly. Bist used to advice her not to pluck flowers because he liked to see the flowers wither on the plant. Parijat used to say, “Flowers are my weakness. If there are no flowers in my room, it will look like a strange place to me.”
Parijat had lost her mother when she was a child. So, she was quite a stranger to motherly love, affection and intimacy. Parijat could not really get to know her mother. Parijat, though born a woman, could not get the opportunity to collect the expertise and learn from the experiences of her mother and become a mother of a worldly child, though she might have experimented being the mother of a fanciful child. Parijat had said in this context “I could not get to know my mother. I do not know what mothers love is.” So, she was brought up and taken care of by her father. Dr. Lama was always busy due to work and Parijat used to, in such situations lie and generally draw a different picture to her father. As a result, she used to smoke from a young age, deceiving her father. Though she had started smoking when she had started studying in class six. She had made herself a habitual smoker in the company of her father’s sister’s daughter and with the full knowledge of her horse-riding brother. She gradually went on smoking. She could know the incessant longing for a cigarette after having her meal. As, she grew older; she found cigarette smoking to be normal. After that, she started taking marijuana. She had increased the palpitation of her heart by smoking marijuana. Parijat also fell ill after smoking marijuana.
The responsibilities of the kitchen were handed over to Parijat at a very young age. Parijat had a lot of interest in cooking but due to her physical condition, she was taken out of the kitchen. She used to say, “Cooking was my interest and it was also my fathers interest. I feel sorry even today for not getting to cook.” She passed the day collecting twigs to bake potatoes, to eat birds by roasting them etc. Generally, she had to carry out the entire household duties because she was the expert in domestic chores. Though she was of a very young age, she was the President of the house.
Parijat studied in a Christian school in Darjeeling when she was quite young. These schools were “Nepali Girls High School and Saint Teresa School. Because the Christians ran Saint Teresa School, every student had to read the Bible. Hence, she had studied the lessons of the Bible at a very young age. Though she had studied in a Christian school, she did not change her religion. She was a Buddhist. She had read books on Buddha’s philosophy and the Geeta at the age of fifteen. Besides, she had also studied other religious books. She had taken interest in scouts while in school and she got an opportunity to join the girls scout. Parijat had studied from class two to class ten in Darjeeling. After coming to Kathmandu, she was admitted in Padma Kanya Vidyashram for the S.L.C. examination.
Parijat was interested in singing since the time she had been a kid. Her voice had been sweet when she was young. Parijat had liked to sing, whether it was at school, home, get-togethers or picnics and she had impressed quite a few people. But, her father had not liked her singing. So, her voice started getting rusty and coarse. She also had been interested in dancing as a kid but she was unable to take it up formally. She also had been interested in writing but her written works were unbearable for her father. She had wished to write and do various things publicly but Parijat could not come out openly out of fear of her father. She did not quit singing, dancing and writing although it was done on the quite without her fathers knowledge. Being obstinate, she had become victorious in fulfilling her desires in her subjects of interests. So, she used to say- “I came through in my journey after tricking my father. I was victorious in fulfilling my desires. I did not receive any inspiration from my house and family. Yet, I fulfilled the objectives of my life.”
Her father Dr. Lama had a great desire to teach science, English literature and mathematics to Parijat. Dr. Lama wished to make his daughter a doctor but Parijat had not even moved an inch towards realizing her father’s ambition. She wanted to be educated as per her wishes turning down the views of her father. In reality, she had never purchased her school textbooks and would not study seriously. But she was more interested in reading other books. In the face of such a strict and tough father, she wrenched herself completely free. She had desired to grow up freely, even if it meant becoming a rebel. There was regular dispute between father and daughter on this subject. She said about it- “He (father) was pained with my obstinacy and I was pained because of his compulsions.” No matter how many times she was chained, she broke free as many times. She wanted to be independent, even if it meant revolting at home. She was successful in her desire to become a writer due to her intense obstinacy. She became a successful litterateur of this world.
During her days in Darjeeling, she had joy and sorrow in equal amounts. While she had her share of various entertainments, love, good faith, pain and joy of her motherland, she entered Kathmandu in November 1954 with her cousin (uncle’s son). She appeared for the S.L.C. examination from Padma Vidya Ashram in the same year and was placed third.