Education Important Change Factor for Nepal’s Fate

Nilam Karki Niharika Nepali Women Writer

Interview by Savina Xavier

A phenomenal writer, a successful woman and a fountain of wisdom! Nepal’s Nilam Karki Niharika is a name that represents sheer talent and honesty!

Along with all the qualities and characteristics that a woman encompasses, Nilam wears the quality of empathy on her sleeve. This is the ‘one’ quality that has given voice to the plight of hundreds of Nepali women.

Being a writer, she chooses to tell tales that touch her and that speak of the hardships of the women she shares her community with.

Not proud, but humbled by her recent success on winning the Madan Puraskar, she says that there is hope for Nepali writers like her. She believes that more reading will make more writers! Because, what they read is what will inspire them. Elaborating on the challenges faced by women she says, it is difficult to juggle between managing different professions/roles and maintaining devotion to writing.

NepaliSansar Bureau (NSB) got to interact with this talented writer on her personal journey as a writer and the challenges of Nepal & its people, at large. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Here are some of the excerpts from the interview:

1. NSB: First of all, NS greets you on your prestigious ‘Madan Puraskar 2075’! How does it feel after being conferred with this remarkable achievement? Does this new achievement bring with it additional responsibility? Tell us your thoughts.

Nilam Karki: Thank you, I am incredibly honored to be receiving the Madan Puraskar. With this, no doubt the expectations of my readers will rise, and I feel like I have a responsibility to meet those expectations, but also a responsibility to myself, to stay.

2. NSB: An individual’s first achievement is always special to her/him. What was your first achievement…in a few words?

Nilam Karki: Getting published in Kishan magazine was my first achievement. It gave me enormous joy, getting the opportunity to express myself. No matter how far I reach, I will remember my first step.

3. NSB: Nilam, your first poem was published in Kisan Magazine when you were merely in 6th Grade. How did you develop an interest in writing at such a young age?

Nilam Karki: Seeing my name in print was a very joyful experience. It inspired me a lot to write more and I never stopped writing since then. My late brother was also interested in literature, and my mom is a retired teacher, so we had a good learning and creative environment at home. I think that helped me build my interest.

4. NSB: Every writer has an inspiration or a person they look up to. Who has been your inspiration/favorite writer?

Nilam Karki: Parijat will always remain as my idol as a writer, she offers depth and a lot of thought-provoking issue on her work. Not only as a female writer but among all Nepali writer she stands very tall.

5. NSB: How does it feel to be a female thought-leader in a male-dominated society?

Nilam Karki: It is true that we live in a male-dominated society, but I don’t see myself through the female lens only. Being a woman, I might have some more insights into women’s role in our society, which I share through my work, but at the end of the day, I am a storyteller. 

6. NSB: It is usually difficult to voice your opinion against existing norms and practices unless you have strong support? How instrumental has your family, friends and acquaintances been in the success of your career as a writer?

Nilam Karki: My mom is my single biggest source of inspiration. I get lots of help from the rest of the family and friends too. After dedicating myself in writing for over two decades, there have been countless people who have contributed to and made my writings possible, from colleagues to family and friends.

7. NSB: Of all the social themes you have written, did you personally have to go through obstacles on account of any one of them?

Nilam Karki: When you write, knowingly or unknowingly, some of your experiences will influence your writing, but it isn’t the only source, there is a story to be found everywhere. Like any other person, I’ve had my share of experiences.

8. NSB: You have been an impeccable writer who has contributed majorly to Nepali literature, an important source for intellectual debate and have challenged social norms. Has it been challenging to step-up against authorities/has there been any opposition?

Nilam Karki: My work of literature is not active resistance; I do often write about issues that catch my attention but it is more so a work of art than challenging the norms. I haven’t had any such opposition.

9. NSB: While there are several themes that you choose for your stories such as male-dominated society, caste, class, poverty, corruption and tyranny. What is the central/main theme of your stories and why?

Nilam Karki: Well it depends, I don’t choose stories just because of their representation in society. I choose what touches me, and being a woman often times the hardships of women comes up more than some other themes. 

10. NSB: While there are many women writers globally, there aren’t many in Nepal. How do you see the future of women writers in Nepal?

Nilam Karki: They are coming. More growth in readership will attract more talents in the field. Just because we want more women in the field, doesn’t mean there’ll be more. There are more challenges to women than men, we need to work towards increasing the readership so more talents can come and stay as carrier writer. It is difficult when you need to embrace other professions for livelihood and focus on writing too.

11. NSB: What role can women writers play in the development of Nepal?

Nilam Karki: Just like any other profession, keep telling honest stories, stories that you are passionate about sharing.

12. NSB: What according to you are the challenges and barriers that stop Nepal from becoming a developed nation?

Nilam Karki: Society is a complex idea, I believe there are a plethora of issues which require attention and as a nation, we are doing that too. I don’t think there is one silver bullet to these issues, or that one issue is more important than other that will turn our society around. If I had to choose one agenda for the nation, I would argue that education is the single most important factor that can change our fate.

13. NSB: There are a lot of NGOs working for the benefit of women in Nepal. How significant have their efforts been in changing the scenario in the country over the years?

Nilam Karki: I think it depends on each NGO, how effective and committed they are. Any positive effort and impact from all possible walks of life are important.

14. NSB: Most of Nepal’s population is situated in rural areas, where the access to media is limited. How do your thoughts reach them/what is the medium you use to reach them? 

Nilam Karki: My only medium is my writing, I get feedback from very remote areas of the country too. With the evolution of the internet and electronic media, the reach is growing rapidly to even the most remote areas.

15. NSB: Every influential individual is an active member of a social cause or movement? What activities are you part of?

Nilam Karki: There is not one agenda or issue I can pinpoint. I am involved in several activities, mostly around writing, literature, and education

16. NSB: Which of your works has been your all-time favorite?

Nilam Karki: Yogmaya, for several different reasons.

17. NSB: What is your message to all the young, aspiring women writers of Nepal?

Nilam Karki: Keep writing, there is no shortcut to success. Persevere.

18. NSB: Thank you for taking out time to reply to this interview. We wish you success for all your endeavors. Last but not the least, when can we expect the next best seller? 😊

Nilam Karki: Thank you for your time as well! I’m exploring a new topic right now, you can expect a book from me in the near future. 

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