Nepal: Jhamak Ghimire

Jhamak Ghimire cannot speak, move, sit easily or use her hands, and has no academic qualifications, but she has enriched Nepal's literary world with hundreds of poems, songs, stories and essays.

— Jhamak Ghimire

Jhamak Ghimire (born 1980), a differently abled young woman who does not have a single academic qualification, has enriched Nepal's literary world by writing hundreds of poems, songs, stories and essays. Her books have won major literary awards, and she is a regular columnist for Kantipur, a leading Nepali daily. Jhamak is an inspiration to thousands of able and differently abled people in Nepal who are familiar with her remarkable story.

Jhamak Ghimire cannot speak, move, sit easily or use her hands. Yet, this formidably intelligent girl from a poor family in a remote Nepal village has managed to get her voice heard all over the country. What Jhamak suffers from is unclear-some doctors say cerebral palsy-but she can only see, hear and partially move her legs, which she uses to communicate with a deeply impressed readership. Entirely self-taught, she learnt to read and write by mimicking her younger sisters and brothers. It began when she was seven years old: she heard the Ramayana (Indian epic) being recited by her father. When, one day, she saw her father pressuring her younger sister to study, it aroused her curiosity and enthusiasm. She began to practice writing the alphabet with her feet, and learnt the Devanagari script within a week. Although all she knows of the world is what she reads, sees from the window of her room, and learns from her limited social interactions, it has generated a wealth of material. Jhamak's talents first came to light in 1994 when a journalist, who lives near her in Dhanakuta, wrote about her in a local weekly newspaper. Other newspapers and magazines began raving about her work and personality. Then, various organizations and readers helped her publish her books, so far five in number, with another three in the pipeline. Jhamak has won literary awards such as the Kabitaram Bal Sahitya Prativa Puraskar and the Aswikrit Bichar Sahitya Puraskar. In her weekly column in Kantipur, she focuses on children's and women's issues, and sociocultural and political vices and achievements. The most amazing quality in Jhamak is her ability to rise above her physical situation with almost supernatural levels of courage and determination. That is why she is such an inspiration to thousands of Nepalis and a leading national personality.