The first session of the third day of the Kolkata Literature Festival was a very unique one as, for the first time, there was a session with North Eastern authors. The way it was conducted was also very unique, as it was more of a “adda” or a informal chat than a formal session on stage. Held in the authors lounge with a select audience, the session was touching and personal in nature.
The moderator for the session was Bengali author Rajkumar Mukhopadhyay. After a brief introduction, he went onto discuss with their lives, writings and journey in the literary world.
Anjalee Basumatary, an author who won the Sahitya Akademy Award, said, ”I started writing from a very young age, for the school magazines etc. In the late 70s and early 80s, I wrote in a weekly magazine. Mostly, I write poetry and sometimes short stories too. “ She is an author, who encompasses terror, bloodshed and also romantic aspects in her poetry. She later read out three of her poems.
Shri G. S. Lama, an author said, “I am very fortunate to be here. I am a part time writer, despite being a civil engineer. It was difficult to give time to literature while in service, but the same profession offered inspiration and instilled in me a enthusiasm for literature.” Having been involved in various social activities, needed him to travel to remote areas of Sikkim. This became a boon for his literary aspirations, as he was able to look at the simplicity of village life very closely. Common bonds, unity in diversity and other aspects of village life made him set most of his works against a backdrop of rural environment. He also spoke about how Bengali literature, especially Rabindranath Tagore has influenced many Nepali writers. He emphasized on the need for translation committees to be set up so that north eastern literature reaches more people around the country. “As an engineer, Mr. Lama constructed many bridges to connect villages and as a writer, he connected many hearts,” added moderator Rajkumar Mukhopadhyay.
Chandrakanta Murasingh, an author who writes in Kokborok language began with reading out a Bengali poem at the session. “If I have to talk about literature, I’d say that it constitutes my entire life and everything else is its companions.” He grew up in a village community that practiced jhum cultivation as a way of life. He thus, had an intrinsic bond with the forests from a very young age. The hills, the rivers and surroundings had a sense of oneness with all the villagers. After he grew up a little, he realised how the “Sweet smelling flowers had been replaced by the smell of gun powder and where birds called all day, there were only sounds of gun shots being fired.” So when he started writing, these reflected in his writings. He then proceeded to read out his poems which encompass both the beauty and the struggles of the beautiful mountains.
The session brought out the beautiful literature that flows from the area in spite of being ridden with continuous problems. Literature from this area has not received a voice like others and that is what made this session very important.
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