No community can express the pain of losing an elder, especially when she was the last fluent speaker of their language. Gyani Maiya Sen Kusunda died on January 25, 2020 in Kulmor village of Dang district in western Nepal, an year and half before this documentary was filmed. From leaving behind the life of a nomad to getting married to a non-nomad to raising a family that could not speak her language, Mrs. Kusunda wished that the Kusunda language is taught to the newer generation. In her own words,
[..] Now none of the Mihaqs (Kusunda people) speak [the language].[..] The girls [have got married and] have left for the villages. Boys are getting married in villages.[..] We left our language and started [speaking] other’s language. It should be taught to others. [..]
Mrs. Kusunda’s younger sister is the only fluent native Kusunda speaker alive. When Gyani Maiya Sen Kusunda was still around and was ailing, Uday Raj Aley, who compiled the first Kusunda-Nepali-English dictionary and served the advisor of this film, approached the local government to create an education program. The government agreed to support and Mr. Aley managed to design, with guidance from Mrs. Kusunda, a pilot education program for the locals. About 20 Kusunda and non-Kusunda speakers joined the program. When this film only captures a glimpse of the Kusunda way of life through the eyes of late Gyani Maiya Sen Kusunda, our only hope is that the future Kusundas revive the language by using it every day.
Written and Directed by: SUBHASHISH PANIGRAHI
Interviews & translation research: UDAY RAJ ALEY
With additional support from: SANJIB CHAUDHARY & ANANDA K.C
Advisory support and review: VEETHIKA MISHRA, PRATEEK PATTANAIK & SAMBIT MOHAPATRA
Advisor: EDDIE AVILA (RISING VOICES)
Stills: SANJIB CHAUDHARY
Additional music: Pig Oink Cerdo Sound Effect. FX Sounds (CC-BY-SA 3.0). https://soundcloud.com/mysoundeffect/pig-oink-cerdo-sound-effect Goats. Andy_Gardner (CC0 1.0). http://freesound.org/people/Andy_Gardner/sounds/192693/ soca_goatsl.wav. LukeIRL (CC-BY 3.0) https://freesound.org/people/LukeIRL/sounds/75097/ Walking barefoot on wooden deck.MP3. SoundsForHim (CCO 1.0), https://freesound.org/people/SoundsForHim/sounds/395654/ Stream, Water, C.wav, Inspector). (CC-BY 3.0), https://freesound.org/people/InspectorJ/sounds/339324/ 13FMokroluskyt_padla.WAV. 13FPanska_Mokrolusky_Tomas (CC0 1.0) https://freesound.org/people/3FPanska_Mokrolusky_Tomas/sounds/377485/ Bleating goats. Seenms. CC-BY 3.0 https://freesound.org/people/seenms/sounds/427814/ Global Voices story by Sanjib Chaudhary (CC-BY 3.0) Additional Foley sounds recorded by Subhashish Panigrahi, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International
Bureau, Himal Khabar. “कुसुन्डा भाषामा बनेको डकुमेन्ट्री ‘ज्ञानीमैया’ को ट्रेलर सार्वजनिक” (Transl. Trailer of the Kusunda language documentary ‘Gyanimaiya’ released). Himalkhabar.Com, 2020, https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.himalkhabar.com/news/116158/. Accessed 18 July 2020.
- The story that inspired to make this film (post on Global Voices by Sanjib Chaudhary, also see a conversation with Mrs. Sen right after the filming, and an obituary after her death)
- Linguistic details (SIL • Glottolog • Endangered Languages Project • Wikipedia)
- Reinhard, Johan and Toba, Tim. 1970. A Preliminary Linguistic Analysis and Vocabulary of the Kusunda Language. Tribhuvan, Nepal: Summer Institute of Linguistics and Tribhuvan University, Nepal.