By Richa Pokhrel/@nepalichoriblog
I first heard about Jhamak Ghimire from my dad because she happens to be from the same place as him and his family. They both hail from Kachide, Dhankuta. In the last few year she has been getting international recognition for her poetry and writings. Jhamak was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects a person’s motor movements. She does not communicate through vocal words, instead she writes with her feet. I was interested in reading her work, but did not have access to her books until 2012. That year I was in Nepal and went to a book fair with my mama and saw her works in English. I purchased her memoir “Jiwan Kada Ki Phool (A Flower in the Midst of Thorns)” and read it in 2 days. I highly recommend everyone to read her words. I imagine they are even more powerful in Nepali.
In this month’s Nepali women, I wasn’t able to interview Jhamak, she lives in Nepal and does not speak. Instead I am writing a summary on why she’s an amazing woman! We know that in our society, people with disabilities are usually pushed to the background, we do not think they can do the same things as our able bodied peers. However, Jhamak learned to read and write through observation of her sister. Unable to go to school, but very interested in learning, she self taught herself the Nepali alphabet, using her to feet to trace letters. In Nepal, persons with disabilities have the right to get an education for free, even up to the Ph.D level, however, I am not sure how many parents with disabled kids know about this law.
At the age of 30, she won the Madan Puraskar Award, the most prestigious literary honor in Nepal. This is awarded annually to the most outstanding Nepali book published in the calendar year. She’s won many other awards as well. Her success is not because she is disabled, it is because she is an amazing writer. Reading her book has changed my perceptions on people who have disabilities, especially those who are confined to a wheelchair. I am really just amazed at her persistence in learning to read and write on her own, the word that best describes her is a person with grit. Her other works include: Sankalpa, Afnai Chitaa Agnishikhatir, Manchhe Bhitraka Yoddahur, and much more.
For those of us who live outside of Nepal, it is hard to find and purchase her work online. I recommend having someone in Nepal purchase them for you or buying them when you are there! I am looking forward to getting my hands on more of her work when my parents go to Nepal early next year.
Other articles on Jhamak:
- In Conversation With Jhamak Ghimire – Kathmandu Post
- Nepal’s Prize-Winning Poet with Cerebral Palsy – BBC News