Book Review Of The Month: PhirPhire

Since, I am Nepali novel reader, “PhirPhire” was the most awaited novel for me. When the writer announced the release date of this book, I was really excited wanted to buy the book once it was available for purchase. But, due to board exams, I couldn’t buy the books in time. As soon as my exams were over, I grabbed a copy and I couldn’t believe that the book was in my hands.

PhirPhire” is the second novel by famous Nepali fiction writer, Buddhi Sagar Chapain. His first fiction novel “Karnali Blues” was a huge success and it’s my favorite one too. In Nepali literature, Buddhi Sagar is mostly renowned for his stories and poems. His second novel “PhirPhire” got a lot of hype through many Nepali readers before it was released. Buddhi Sagar is best known for his recital way of telling the story. His unique way of story telling is quite popular among the readers and this keeps the reader surrounded by the story all the time.

PhirPhire” starts with the ending i.e. it tells the story in a flash back memory of the writer. The novel is about the story of two ordinary boys, Pawan and Basanta and their innocent friendship. The story starts when Basanta decides to go to his village after 15 years to see his house for the last time before it is demolished. The story ends after Basanta leaves the village and returns to his life. In between, Basanta, the story narrator begins the journey to the past; the past which he always wanted to forget. He unfolds the nostalgic memory of his childhood and the story of his best friend Pawan who becomes a prey to village politics, superstitions and losing his memory in the process.

This story is multi layered with the stories of the loving Juthiaama, the snake killer of the village, Chilgadi, the stumble bum,  Rocky Dada, Pawan’s first love, Munmun, The boat rider of village, Pichku Majhi, the village witch doctor, Kohinoor. All these colorful characters please and amaze the readers in equal measure throughout the book. Every person whom Basanta and Pawan met has a unique story behind their life. The Narrator tells about their lifestyle, their language and their livelihood.

The story plot moves in this way, here Pawan and Basnta are best friends since childhood. Basanta has lost his father and Pawan lost his mother. Basanta tells how a widowed husband takes care of his children and the difference between taking care of children by a alone mother and by alone father. Pawan doesn’t even remember his mother’s face and it is the similar case with Basanta’s memory of his father. Narrator tells about the problems that Pawan faces like not receiving proper food, basic needs, mother’s love and other’s. Pawan often complains Basanta about not receiving a mother’s care, while Basanta tries to make him feel comfortable by diverting his mind and making him play with the Phir-Phire (a hand made fan made up of a leaf which rotates when wind blows) with his lovely company. They often quarrel with each other, yet they always have each other’s shoulders to lean on when something bad happens. They are incomplete without each other. The narrator beautifully portrays the relationship between father and son, brother and sister, best friends and finally a mother and son.

The unexpected turn of events and the feeling of “what happens next?” didn’t make me feel bored. The 540 (approx.) pages didn’t feel like a burden to me as the story and the plot was set on my mind. While reading “PhirPhire”, sometimes my eyes became wet, sometimes I laughed and sometimes I became sad by the stories of the characters.

There are some errors in the book, some misprints but it really doesn’t matter when the story is as good as this is. Written in a sweet and simple language, the story of PhirPhire oozes out to bring back the nostalgic memories of our individual pasts. It is a must read book if you are a Nepali Fiction reader.

My rating: 9.5/10.