A Different Face & Other Tales
D. S. Kansakar Hilker's A Different Face & Other Tales is one book neatly tailored for the Nepali audience, and even more for Nepalis living in a foreign country. The book strongly reflects the mindset, ideology, setting, and struggles of people in Nepal; and no person well reversed with Nepalese lifestyle would get bored reading these wonderful collections of short stories and essays. There were times, as I was reading the book, that I felt as if it was speaking out my mind and wording those thoughts that just flicker away in my head time and again. A Different Face & Other Tales is more than just a book; it is a small piece of reality portrayed intricately word by word.
Incomprehensible words are better left out. This one thing that makes reading this book even more relaxing. You don't have to stop and rush to your dictionary, because the words are simple, and the prose, captivating. Throughout the book, never once did the question, “What does this mean?” arose, all that I felt was, “I know exactly what she's saying.” The language used is perfectly fit for the collection of tales, and you don't need to be an ardent reader of English to fall in love with the book. All you need to be is a person who knows Nepal, and it will get you clinging to the book to see what's in the next story.
From the dust and the scorching heat of summer to the first rains, from load shedding and the small talks we make to our universal love of dogs; every story in the book shouts Nepal. It is a book that speaks out the mind of most Nepalis, and through the reading gives us the joy of knowing there's someone penning down the silent conversations in our head into a beautiful collection of tales. It is a book that curves your lips to a smile even without you knowing it.
I would not say every word touched me, or that I could relate to every single incident mentioned. There were times I wondered if I were born a few decades earlier, or if I were my mother, would I have been in the same place? The book was more like a journal of events that took place over the years, and a heart-to-heart conversation with everyone who has been in the same place. It is not like a Nicholas Sparks tale that most would like; relatable or not. It is much better for those who have been there, and an alien ranting for those who can't relate to it.
If I were not a Nepali, I would have thought of these wonderful collections of beautifully essayed stories as crazy ranting about stuff that are totally un-relatable. But, since I'm a Nepali, born and brought up in Nepal, I had my moment of rolling on the floor laughing, shaking a friend next to me to read the paragraph that I loved, and internal joy of reading something so relatable.
In a nutshell, I would say I can read this book over and over again with the same enthusiasm and joy at each repeat, but not everyone would like it. If you don't know Nepal and Nepalis well enough, this book definitely isn't for you. It is just small talk from one Nepali to another.