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Sun & Shadow

By N.H. Manandhar
Sun & Shadow by N.H. Manandhar digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

"A complete masterpiece that touches the life of a Dalit woman to the fullest..." Samata Foundation, Nepal

Durga and Prabesh, a young intercaste couple from Nepal, are discovered having a secret affair. The threat of violent reprisal prohibits any hope of staying together, and they are forced to follow very different paths. This is their story.

In a remote Himalayan village where casteism is rife and poverty is endemic, teenaged Durga does her best to accept her karma, and her hastily arranged marriage to a violent alcoholic. Durga's only joy is the secret knowledge that Prabesh is her son's father, and she nurtures hope that one day they will be reunited through their son, and they will all escape to Kathmandu together.

But there is no escape in sight. Instead, Durga is continually brutalised by her alcoholic husband and forced to endure daily discrimination because of an unfair caste system. She tries hard, but it is a struggle to accept that this is her karma. When she discovers the local community is outraged at her because she did not give birth in the squalid and unhygienic communal hut – and that her husband has stolen her meagre savings to go on a drinking binge, Durga has finally had enough. Violence, injustice, discrimination, poverty. The time has come to rebel – to fight for a better life for her children, for her neighbours, for herself. But defying age-old traditions and ingrained prejudices – by one who is the most oppressed – is an intimidating journey. Durga must find the courage – and her voice – before she can succeed.

In Durga's home village, schoolteacher Prabesh believes it was not karma but deep-rooted discrimination – and the threat of violence – that prevented he and Durga from being together. As a high caste, Prabesh comes from privilege. His life as a respected teacher in rural Nepal is idyllic by comparison. He has never been hungry and has never wanted for anything. The only infringement on Prabesh's rights come from his overly meddling mother, and his shamelessly bigoted and corrupt father. Angry at his inability to defy his father and marry Durga, Prabesh sets up a social work program to assist the impoverished children in his village. For Prabesh, the program has special significance. It targets children from the same caste as Durga, and their families are mostly victims of his father's corrupt practices. Prabesh's dislike for his father continues to increase the more he discovers the extent of the poverty, and it is difficult not to be overwhelmed. But he perseveres, and his dedication arouses both sympathy and donations from overseas. Prabesh's father, upon hearing of the donations, insists on becoming involved in the program, and his greedy machinations force Prabesh to confront both ethical and moral dilemmas. The only way to keep the project alive, and help all those children, is for Prabesh to find his voice, and the courage to defy his father.

315 pages

Published November 1, 2023

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