Padmashree Lil Bahadur Chhetri: 1st Gorkha Padmashree from Assam
26th January, 2020, Guwahati
Padmashree Lil Bahadur Chhetri was born to Prem Bahadur Chetri and Pabitra Devi on 1st March 1933 at Police Reserve, AT Road, Guwahati to a serving police officer. He spent his early childhood and schooling in Shillong and graduated from Cotton College in Economics. He did his Masters in Economics from Gauhati University and joined Arya Vidyapith College as Assistant Professor and retires as Professor & Head of the Department of Economics in the year 1994. Athough he had studied Assamese, Hindi and English languages, his interest always lay in Nepali, his mother tongue which he had mastered through self study.
One of the successful novelists in Nepali language, Lil Bahadur Chhetri is popular for his lucid language, clarity in thoughts and coherent ideas and presentation. He presents issues, problems and paradoxes in what he sees and observes giving the readers choice of their own opinion rather than imposing his thoughts on readers. He describes the reality rather than saying what should be done and in the course of practice, he has exposed exploitation under feudal society and sorry state of Gorkha people wherever they live along with mentioning the two characteristics of the Gorkha society and class system under which two categories of people, the exploiters and exploited, live.
Lil Bahadur Chhetri began with some short stories and essays in Nepali language as he had no clued where to begin or how to write. It was later that he decided to write a novel and he came up with his first novel *Basain (Migration)* which was considered as one of the most successful novels in Nepali literature. Published in 1957, the novel is also included in the curriculum of the Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal and as MIL in various Indian Universities. Since then, there has been no looking back and he has contributed many essays, short stories and novels to the Nepali literature.
Some of his works include three novels – Basain ( later translated to English as Mountains Painted with Turmeric by Michael J. Hutt, in 2007), Atripta (Unfulfilled) in 1969 and Brahmaputra Ko Chheu Chhau (Banks of Brahmaputra), a collection of essays – Assam Ma Nepali Bhasako Sharogharo (Difficulties of Nepali Language in Assam), a play – Dobato (crossroads), and a short stories collection – Tindasak Bis Abhibyakti
He was awarded Sahitya Akademi award in 1987 for his book Brahamaputra ko Cheo Chao and movie made from his novel Basain was nominated for prestigious Oscars in the year 2006 directed by Subash Gajurel in International Foreign Film category.
Chhetri now lives in his own residence at Morakholi in Guwahati, Assam with his wife, two sons Pankaj and Pallav and grandchildren. His eldest daughter Krishna Chhetri is a national classical dancer.