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  • Writer's picturePrashamsa Hamal

Talking Cats and the Joys of Reading


Prashamsa Hamal in Nepal, 2016

I extend my gratitude to the Lincoln Chronicle for letting me use this platform to share my thoughts on a  habit I hold dear, reading. Now, before we dive into the literary wonderland, let's rewind to the million dollar question that everyone asks, be it a job interview, your first day at school, or even a blind date –  "Tell me something about yourself?" I am Prashamsa Hamal, proudly raised in Nepal, the country that  boasts the world's most incredible backyard, complete with Mount Everest, lush hills, and flowing rivers  that have more character than my morning coffee. 

 

Turning to my educational background, I pursued my undergraduate studies in Nepal before venturing to China to explore culture and finance. This transformative experience not only broadened my academic  horizons but also enabled me to converse in five languages—Mandarin, Nepali, Hindi, English, and Urdu, to varying degrees of proficiency.  


Now, let's delve into the realm of reading. I wasn't always an avid reader, but the memory of my first book  remains vivid. My initiation into the literary world happened with Khalid Hosseini's book "Kite Runner." And it was about 13-14 years ago, so if you ask me about the plot, characters, or even the color of the protagonist's  shoelaces, there are slim chances I will be able to tell you clearly. Though the specifics of the plot have faded with time, the emotions it evoked—the melancholy, despair, and helplessness—linger. The rollercoaster  emotions and a hint of "Why didn't I start reading earlier?" is what I felt during my first read. The tale, set  against the backdrop of a war-torn country, Afghanistan, masterfully explores themes of friendship  between two characters: Amir and Hassan.  


Author of "Kite Runner"(2003), Khaled Hosseini

The story explores Afghanistan's tumultuous history, providing a glimpse into the impact of  political and social upheavals on individual lives. It is a story about the resilience and wisdom of young kids in a war-torn country. And, although it may have been a fictional story, it will leave readers questioning the  reality of the real world. It is a story about friendship and redemption. Amir’s guilt and attempts at  redemption drive much of the narrative. The novel sheds light on the effects of war, displacement, and cultural changes on the characters and their relationships. Because "Kite Runner" is a short novel, it's ideal for people who think they would have trouble understanding the complicated vocabulary in other books. 


Fast forward a bit, and life happened. I took a reading hiatus for about a decade. Yes, you heard me right.  A whole decade of not flipping pages, but who's counting? Then enter the chaos of the pandemic –no job  prospects, confined to four walls, and a looming sense of impending doom. In desperation, I turned  towards books. Classics for the soul, fiction for the feels, and non-fiction to convince myself that I'm an adult who knows what they're doing. That is how I rediscovered my love for books.  


One standout book from this rekindled reading phase is Haruki Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore." This magical book unfolds through the parallel stories of Kafka Tamura, a teenage runaway with a mysterious past, and Nakata, an elderly man with a peculiar ability to communicate with cats, and a narrative that dances between the mundane and the downright fantastical. Murakami weaves a literary labyrinth that's like trying to follow a GPS in Kathmandu– confusing, but oh-so-enchanting.  


Author of "Kafka on the Shore" (2002), Haruki Murakami

The best part? Every detail, from fish dropping from the sky to libraries holding the thoughts of Kafka's  alter ego, is painstakingly created and adds to the overall surreal ambiance of the novel. Murakami flawlessly combines Eastern and Western philosophies, mythology, and literature, creating a narrative that transcends cultural boundaries. The narrative gains depth as the protagonists, Kafka and Nakata, struggle with existential issues and past traumas. It's like a therapy session, but with less humans and more talking cats. Now who wouldn’t want to talk to cats? I am certain that I do. It's a mind-bender that'll leave you  questioning reality more than your last Zoom call. 


Haruki Murakami is often associated with the literary style of magical realism. In his work, he blends  the ordinary with the fantasy, creating a narrative in which surreal and magical elements exist alongside everyday life. Still, some readers might wish for more definitive conclusions given the vagueness and open ended nature of storytelling.  


Reading is a journey, and everyone's path is different. Hence, I encourage everyone to explore and discern their literary preferences. The Lincoln Library houses a diverse collection catering to every type of reader.  There is a book awaiting discovery for each of you. Happy reading! 


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