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Arindam Borkataki
Date of Publish: 2015-07-08

The question of threatening existence, real or imaginary, is the root of each and every agitation and rebellion that occurred in the last three decades  and it had largely affected the existing social and cultural values of Assam, in different ways at different levels. Though, secession was not a widely shared aspiration in the State – only a small vocal political segment was taken by the romance of independence ,   the violations of human, democratic and civil rights by insurgent groups and state terrorism have caused a reign of fear in  mind and  effected the Assamese society to a large extent.  Urvashi  Butalia once commented  –“When publishing  writers from North East  it is difficult not to look at the political nature of that writing. Virtually everyone writing from there somehow or the other rooted and involved in the politics of the region”.  A Writer, socially conscious and responsible like Arupa  Patangia  Kalita and Dhrubajyoti Bora can neither ignore nor refrain from such issues of terror  in his or her writings  as terror is not merely bomb exploding or several unexpected dying or dead ,or even the awareness of who the enemy is. Asish Nandy said “Terror is the sense of being swamped as it were ,by the systematic derangement in which social structures are stepped” .Here  three novels written by  Dhrubajyoti Bora can   show  eternal yearning for peace of people of this region caught up in a web of tragic events, reflecting the social realty of our time.

           These novels present a very tragic and perturbed picture of Assam during the nineties . In the words of the novelist this trilogy is the story of self –demolition of an entire generation. Here attention can be drawn to another novel Barnabodh, where the novelist in an unprecedented manner  uses contemporary representative words of vowels and consonants, which reflect a certain aspect of Assam and Assamese people. He has written this novel on the basis of words widely used contemporary contexts, like ‘aatmasamarpan’ (surrender), ‘ganatantra’ (democracy), ‘sarkar’ (Government) ‘swahid’ (martyr), ‘janajati’ (tribal), ‘torture’, ‘tatwa’k (theory), ‘banduk’ (gun), ‘vagania’ (tea garden people), ‘madar dokan’ (wine shop),

‘rajnaitik hatya’ (political assassination) etc. We can assume that behind the present connotative meaning of these words, words like AASU( stands for All Assam Students’ Union – who spearheaded the antiforeigner movement in Assam) AGP ( Asom Gana Parishad- the regional political party that was born of the above agitation after the Assam Accord was signed with Government of India ) ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam- the banned armed underground secessionist outfit of Assam) SULFA ( Surrendered ULFA cadres who surrendered before the Government and emerged as a notorious organized group used as at times as vigilantes by the authorities) Guptaghatak (secret assassin) etc. are related in one or other way that carried or used to carry middle class dreams and expectations as well its fears and dreads. In  Kalantar Trilogy also D.J. Borah has ostensibly chosen the middle class of the society, maybe, to capture the complexities of life in the changing society.

            In the first novel Kalantarar Gadya (The Prose of Tempest) the novelist present the condition of the middle class section of   our society as it existed in a fixed circuit. Their world was set in a simple pattern. The ultimate success of life was then considered to be a good academic performance and pursuing a career either in medicine or engineering , marriage decided by parents, a subdued sex-life sanctioned by the norms of the society, children, construction of one or two houses, buying a  car and very comfortably and slowly growing old, and then a silent death. And then a few words written by an energetic niece or nephew on the day of Shraddha ceremony as a tribute in newspaper. Only then the world comes to know that there lived a certain person named so and so in this world. Very few events occurred  which disturbed the peaceful life of people. The biggest news unsettling the social peace happened to be an inter-caste marriage. Agitation and movements came up in a gap of one decade with issues like demands for constructing a bridge over the Brahmaputra or installation of an oil refinery in Assam, which led to another agitation and kept the atmosphere heated for sometime. But life then was pretty calm and cool. Life was enduring at that time because it was the natural tendency of the middle class Assamese people  to abide by the established social norms and manage life within its limitations. It can be simply said that to ensure their social security, the middle class wanted not to be unnecessarily over enthusiastic over social issues. But they never realized that such an attitude actually weakened them mentally. The weakness of this section and the related problems arising out of this weak mentality are a major cause in the creation of the social unrest and chaos. When the novelist puts forward the questions as to why do these underground organization are born ?, then as reader we feel, whether this camouflage might be the external manifestation of the compromising middle class social system ? Here there is the desire to rebel, but the revolution never happens. Several questions arise in Partha’s mind, who is a central character in the novel, about the reasons behind the birth of these underground organization – ‘Is it the outcome of the emotion and imagination of some youths or is it something more serious and grave ? Is it born out of a social vecum ? Why has it come to grow like flames of a fire ? Does it imbibe in itself  the  promise of fulfilling some kind of deficiency which might be existing in the society ? Or is it the easiest and short cut way to power and glamour for some youths who wanted to escape their inefficiency of doing something in  life’ ? The writer has also made efforts to take an analytical view of the situation and whether the organizations born under the dark clouds of such doubts, fear and confusion, have been able to or are eager and keen enough to reflect the regional social problems ?

            Tejor Anadhar (Darkness of Blood) is the second novel of Kalantor Trilogy.  The story revolves around the monetary compensation offered by the government to the family members of an innocent person who has been killed by militants. The novelist has very sensitively portrayed how that money is needed by the poor family and yet it reminds the parents and other members in the family of the dead creating a confused and complex situation. The story of the third novel Artha(the Meaning) has been crafted around the theme of the urge of former militants to lead a ‘peaceful life’ in a situation of repaid erosion of social

values created by armed violence which they themselves are instrumental in starting.  This self consciousness instead of being a positive experience may often turn into an unstoppable urge for self establishment at any cost. Ultimately such tendencies surely leads to degradation of human values. Such a lasting and conflicting situation has been depicted in the first part of Artha .         

         Dhruba Jyoti Borah deserves our thanks because  he has dared to write an ambitious trilogy successfully depicting and  analyzing  tragedy of  people caught in the cog-wheels of unrelenting history –  people being penalized for its quest for an identity within the larger ambit of a modern nation state. It is the human story of the hopes, struggles, introspections, conflicts and searches of people of different walks in a society—from the rural poor to complexity ridden urban middle class; from romantic militants to criminalized returnees to introspecting and self questioning youths.

Arindam Borkataki is a critic,essayist and editor in Assamese Literature.He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Youth Award and Munin Borkataki award in 2011 for his first book Anusilon .He has edited several books and journals


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