Confessions: Dr. Indira Goswami
The mind and heart-touching revelation of the
Life of Mamoni Raisom
Each and every portion of my life and feelings are closely related
to my entire works. I have also written my novels on the basis of
an uneven reality. While writing my first complete novel 'Chenabor
Xrot' I was staying at the work site of a small place named Riyashi
on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga in Kashmir....... At that
time when I reached that place then the construction of the piers
of this significant bridge had just started. I got the opportunity
to observe the labourers, engineers, the various workers and Harijans
who always followed the company in it's project works. Considering
this experience as resource I wrote the novel "Chenabor Xrot.'
A unique sight of a site heaped with shuttering plates, compressors,
vibrators, steel reinforcement rods, concrete mixture, crowbars,
iron, panos crane etc. became visible before my eyes. Though there
was imagination here, yet, reality played a key role...... Of course
some incidents at that labour camp left me numbed and disturbed.
On the first day of my arrival at this camp of Chenab I saw blazing
fires near the barracks of the labourers. When I enquired about
it my husband Madhaben Raisom was quite hesitant to reply at first,
but I was not one who leaves thinking about a particular thing for
a little while. He told me, "A terrible accident took place.
While the work of well sinking was going on an accident took place.
While the work of well sinking was going on, suddenly a well shrank
below water level. Immediately water from outside came into the
well with great force. Those men working below the well couldn't
come out." With my naked eyes I saw the blazing cremation fires
of these labourers quite near our satai quarters. That day I couldn't
sleep the whole night. For a long time I got the smell of burnt
human near our Satai quarter.........
I saw some more terrible accidents in the year 1966 at this camp
of Chenab in Kashmir. A woman labourer known to us who came from
Orissa along with a contractor, in broad day light and before every
one's eyes committed suicide by jumping from the piers into the
razor-edged strong current of water below. I even saw the smashed
body of a labourer over whom a bucket of concrete weighing half
ton fell from a track with loose screw while he was pushing trolley
of concrete in a hurry over the temporary railway track in fear
of the 'Mate.' One more accident occured in front of my eyes while
I was there in this work site of the river Chandrabhanga. A temporary
but strong bridge of wire rope was constructed near the new bridge
across the river which construction was going on. This rope of iron
was bound to the piers on both sides. This bridge starts shaking
when a person sets foot on it. Below the bridge the frightful river
Chenab i.e., the Chandrabhanga. It is hard to believe how terrible
the current of this river can be near Riyashi if not seen by one's
own eyes. A boat operated on wheels was also used to take the labourers
and passengers across the river Chandrabhaga. As the current was
strong iron ropes were bound to two poles. By the help of a pulley
the boats were pulled from one bank to the other through the rope.
Below there was the forceful current of the river!
A foreman whom we became acquainted with at the Khaoda camp in
Kutch came to join at the Chenab branch after his transfer there.
I could never cross this bridge all along holding firmly to the
rope. It was also impossible for me to cross in the boat run by
wheels as because I couldn't bear to see the forceful flow of current
as like the glide of an injured snake. That day i.e. during the
time of the joining of that person whom we met at Khaoda, I was
crossing the bridge with firm steps catching hold of Madhu's hand.
The tall hefty man, who came to join left his bedding roll wrapped
with a blanket at the verandah of the temporary office constructed
of satai and went inside the office to write his joining report.
Perhaps at one time he crossed the stony path and sat on the boat
run by pulley on a steel rope. Perhaps while crossing through that
forceful current of the river he didn't think of taking much precaution
while sitting..... Suddenly an uproar started among the labourers
standing on the bank of the river. All of us ran to the bank and
saw a strange sight. That man fell down from the boat run by pulley
and disappeared totally. Nobody dared to go down into the water.
Everyone stood helpless and stunned at the bank........ Far away
a portion of the dhoti worn by him could be seen in the waves. After
that there was nothing.
The scene of this man flowing away in the current of the river
on the very first day of his joining at this camp remained as a
pain in my heart. That night too, I couldn't sleep.
At the site of the Chandrabhaga........ all along I roamed about
in the barracks of the labourers, the khalasi langar, the temporary
hospital and the forest of Jamun trees and wild thorns on the bank
of the river Chenab. Sometimes I crossed the stony spot of Chandrabhaga
and the temporary bridge and visited the village of Riyashi and
even the fort of Riyashi. I even went to the dense forest situated
on the path to Moghla at the other side of the Chandra Bhaga. (I
have written elaborately about one such unique journey in my book
titled 'Adha Lekha Dostabez'.) At that time the fire of the battle
with Pakistan had not ceased. We could distinctly see the convoys
of the enemy soldiers far away from the paths of Rajourie and Poonch.
Demolition Chambers were made making the heart of the piers of the
bridge of Chandrabhaga hollow. The facility was kept so that if
enemy make any sudden attack then ammunition would be put into these
chambers and the bridge would be blown off. I got acquainted with
several army officers of High rank and some common soldiers at Poonch,
Rajourie, Akhnoor, etc., I became quite friendly with them....Yet,
as I was not of much age and experiences limited, the novel 'Chenabor
Xrot' written by me during that time wasn't my successful novel.
But the scene of the camp at Chandrabhaga has been illustrated similar
to that which I have seen with my own eyes.
* * *
That feeling of suicide of childhood days came to my mind once
again. (Perhaps due to this longstanding feeling of my mind, the
heroine of my novel 'Une Khowa Howda' based on the background of
South Kamrup-Giribala commits suicide. Even in the novel 'Neelakanthi
Braja' the heroine Saudamini resolved to commit suicide.)
I became ready to stand against all these curses of destiny. This
task was like getting drenched with blood after having peeled off
one's own skin. I was all set to peel off one skin and robe myself
in another skin.
I couldn't dare to look up at the sky above my head. Though I was
ready, one by one sleeping tablets started collecting inside my
purse bag. Otherwise I kept note book, scented perfume and lipstick
inside my purse. As if now those have been buried under sleeping
As if I myself couldn't understand what kind of test this was when
I was all set to face the struggle of life. About three months after
Madhu's death I went for my job at the Goalpara Sainik School.....
At this Sainik School in Goalpara I came to know about some mysterious
aspects of male characters. Later on I brought those into my literature.
In this Sainik school most were men along with these small soldiers.
Perhaps I was the first woman teacher in this school. According
to the rule of the school I had to be with these child soldiers
from the time of parade until games and sports and their manners
always reminded me of the soldiers seen at Khaoda in Kutchh, Akhnoor,
Poonch, Rajourie in Kashmir etc. Again and again the sound of their
boots, sound of their parading etc. made me stroll back into memory
lanes. And I couldn't dare to look up at the sky above my head.
Within some of the small student soldiers of the Sainik school in
Goalpara I saw extra-ordinary courage and perseverance.
I was quite certain that some amidst them will be extra ordinary
soldiers in future.....
I have already said that I discovered some new aspects of male character
in this Sainik school of Goalpara.
Similar to woman the story of the inner world of man differs from
Each of their mental world is a mysterious cave. As if it is mere
foolishness if we say proudly that we understand one another.
I met Guru Charan Singh at the Sainik School. He had boundless
sympathy for me. Guru Charan taught English. He has been transfered
to Kapoorthala in the Punjab before I left the school. Covering
a long distance this Sikh youth came to meet me at Brindavan even.
I rejected Guru Charan's love. But he didn't become my enemy for
that reason. About sixteen years later when Sikh insurgents started
terrible massacre to take revenge upon the Hindus for the riots
of 1984, numerous police check posts were installed at the streets
and lanes of Delhi. In those days if any Sikh youth was seen in
a Hindu inhabited colony every body looked at him suspiciously.
(I saw the scene of that horrible riot of Delhi with my naked eyes.
Standing at the balcony I saw the fire of the shops of the Sikhs
which were set ablaze. The sky of Delhi took the colour of copper.
The black ashes of various burnt up things floated above the sky
like the feathers of sacrificed pigeon. A strange smell of burnt
things spread all around).
The slum-dwellers....fell upon the devastated shops of the Sikhs
as like vultures fall upon corpses. Before my eyes a seven year
old boy went by wearing a pair of new shoes of a man's size. Following
him were a crowd of people with looted things. They were slum dwellers
staying around 'Birla Mill'. They were known to me. Gradually the
copper coloured sky of Delhi turned black.... The massacre that
took place after this cannot be exactly described. More than four
thousand people were massacred. I took along with me a few Assamese
students and went to meet those severely riot affected people at
Kalyanpuri and Jahangirpuri. One of those families exhibited before
me a turban drenched with blood. I caught sight of somebody's lock
of long hair with flesh lying about. Pieces of demolished Gurudwaras,
remains of burnt up vehicles heaped in a pile as like pieces of
bones. Everything came in sight. A live evidence of the brutality
and barbarity of man lay infront of my eyes. From where have this
horde of beasts come? No, no, no one could say. The people of Kalyanpuri
and Jahangirpuri never ever saw them before. Nobody knew from where
they came and pounced upon their victims! Kill! Kill! Kill! Where
is the time to flee? The funeral pyre of Indira Gandhi was burning
till then...The police was nowhere to be seen. Somebody pointed
out, "Over there stands the house of the Municipal Counsellor'.
Except that all other houses have been pulled down. No one is hurting
him even." A strange thing! A strange thing indeed! At that
time a rumour spread all around that the Sikhs will attack our residential
area at Roushanara Road with naked swords! We went up to the terrace
and stood on guard, it was at that time that the words of Ghalib
came to my mind...." Now the houses seem to be prisons, the
floors executing grounds." ......At that time I myself kept
guard up on the terrace along with the other people. Everyone in
the colony kept guard. As the population of Sikhs along with women
and children were more on Raushanara Road and as the Gurudwara situated
on this road was also demolished, there was a frequent cry, they
are coming, the Sikhs are coming with naked swords...As if the sky
of Delhi took a harsh form. What was the colour in the water of
the river Yamuna? That was black like ink and red like blood...In
this riot the hospital of our Sikh doctor Jagga and the residence
of lawyer Randheer Chawla was burnt to ashes.
During this time Guru Charan came and stood at my door. After sixteen
years this Sikh youth came to see me, in order to know whether I
am well or not?....Everyone looked up when they saw this Sikh youth
entering into my house amidst this riot.....
Guru Charan came after sixteen years. I rejected Guru Charan's love
and sent him away from the door step of that dark small room of
the ruined temple at Brindavan. No, no there was no feeling of enemity!
My eyes welled up with tears.
Later on I attempted to depict the intensity of relationship through
the characters of my novels. The characters of flesh and blood whom
I met in my life became my inspiration.
* * *
I tried to impute some aspects of live characters into the imaginary
character of Harnam Singh Mastana (Jakhami Jatri)
I tried to depict the picture of invanquishible eternal love through
the characters of Indranath, Ilimon, Giribala (Une Khowa Howda),Yashwant
(Mamore Dhora Taruwal), Saudamini (Neelakanthi Braja), Officer Harsul
For me the object of this love isn't marriage alone. This love isn't
limited to physical love alone....As if this heart is like a river,
as if it merges into an endless sea. This is that sea which has
While depicting this picture of eternal love through these characters
the love of my late husband Madhaben Raisom towards me always came
to my mind. Together with this my companion K.B. Satarawala's faithfulness
towards me and the intimate feelings which I received from various
personalities met in life came to my mind.
I tried to depict this attitude more intensely through the characters.
As if I went on unearthening the deep vault of human character.
Whether I am successful or not, this feeling never came to my mind.
As if my duty was to go on digging. Perhaps I cannot give the exact
definition of this inclination which made me create character associating
reality and imagination. The urge to write was an undefinable pain.
But this pain enveloped the body and mind as like having bathed
in the golden sea of liberty.....At this point that famous quotation
of the great poet Ghalib occurs in mind, "I wonder from where
the flow of writing comes to me?....It seems as if those words of
the feather-pen are the voices of heavenly nymphs."
* * *
At the time of writing the novel 'Neelakanthi Braja" I was
at Brindavan. I have disclosed the entire story of Brindavan in
my novel tittled "Adha Lekha Dostabez".I have tried to
depict the agony experienced by me in those times through my character
Saudamini the heroine.
The mental situation of Saudamini, her agony, resentment, grievance
against some people of society, her regret at not being able to
accept her second lover whole-heartedly and imagination of that
terrible path of ruin indicated by this regret - all these have
been illustrated based on the realistic gesture of my own life.
Though I was all set to face the struggle, yet, the feeling to commit
suicide became terribly intense. It became almost impossible to
preserve the strength to live subjugating emotions by means of my
education and wisdom after having accepted the consolations of lovers
and well wishers who came forward to give me new life. In that state
of mind I portrayed the character of Saudamini. Though the institutional
Head of Institute of Oriental Philosophy Charan Bihari Goswami mentioned
that 'Neelakanthi Braja' is the first novel ever written in an Indian
language based on Brindavan, yet, I know it quite well that I have
not attempted to portray the culture of Braja in that novel. I have
only described the mental condition of the heroine and the condition
of some temples of those times seen by my own eyes.
I roamed about the streets of Brindavan in mental agony. We were
stunned to see the physical and financial misery of those old widows
desiring to take shelter at the feet of Murlidhar Krishna of Braja.
Those old widows hailed from Maimansigh, Bakura, Rajshahi, Kochbihar
etc. A picture of a horrifying and cruel condition of poverty and
inhumanity became visible before my eyes. I tried to help a few
widows with the little resource of mine. I realised this at heart
that even within the moss covered ruined ancient idol of the temple
there lies hidden inspiration to live for these struggling widows.
I was indeed amazed at this longing of the widows to be with Murlidhar,
that Murlidhar, who, gave them nothing in life apart from dishonour
and insult. I came into intimate contact with these skeletal bodies
with tattered clothes on their bodies and untidy hair manifesting
the curse of widowhood upon them. I went to their dwellings-the
small rooms. There were some small dark rooms in the courtyards
of some ancient temples. There were around thirty such small rooms
at a place named Harabari. I saw their unimaginable life style.
They saved money for their funerals. How the pilgrim guides and
middle men sometimes robbed that savings of those widows, this scene
too, came to my notice. I came across even such unfortunate widows
who lamented in the middle of the road after having lost their 'Funeral
savings'. I also came across widows injured by Tongas and widows
wrenching in pain in the middle of the road.
.....Many of then desired to die on the soil of Braja. They made
their living by singing bhajans and dreamt of Murlidhar Krishna.
That Krishna who involved every Gopi along with Radha in amorous
sport playing on the flute?
Is the power of love so much? But did these old women worship Murlidhar
Krishna as a lover alone? On was their love towards Murlidhar Krishna
a manifestation of their dissatisfied sexual desire?
They were not concerned about the dust laden Parthasarathi Krishna
at the battle field of Kurukshetra. Here no body was interested
to discover the Krishna of history.
Every where there is the desire of Murlidhar Krishna! Murlidhar
Krishna! It is said that Krishna never returned to Brindavan after
having left from Brindavan to Dwaraka. There is no need of that
No, no, nobody wants this Krishna of Dwaraka. It is Murlidhar Krishna
whose constant existence is there in Brindavan. As if it is with
this Krishna that all the widows have a mysterious relationship.
My only sorrow is this that I was so involved in portraying the
mental agony of Saudamini in 'Neelakanthi Braja' that inspite of
getting chance I didn't accept the chance of portraying the outer
world of Brindavan extensively. Once I asked a leader, "Why
doesn't the government do anything for these Radheswami widows of
Brindavan? Haven't these ashrams of Bhajan turned into immoral places?"
He replied, "Those are people of other states! People of Bengal.
They have burdened our place with a social problem of their state."
I was thoroughly stunned, I dreamt that one day all these will unitedly
voice protest. Let that voice of protest be sound of dry bones!
Yet I believed that there is a power of truth. That is why a rebellious
character of 'Neelakanthi Braja' always dreamed that a light is
* * *
Once again I went to a different environment while writing the novel
tittled 'Ahiran'. In the year 1974 I arrived at a place named Ahiran
emed that today the silk of the umbrella used while welcoming her
husband as a bride-groom is the skin of the body of her low-caste
Does such a situation ever arises in someone's case?"
(Pp. 79, Dantal Haatir Une Khowa Howda, Upanyash Samagra, Second
In the same way as the dissatisfied hunger of Giribala, sometimes
the flame of the fire of desire in Durga too, kindles up. In this
way sometimes the torment of widowhood in Durga erupts and tries
to achieve the desired things. The novelist has identified this
behaviour of Durga through the stern observation of Giribala. Giribala
discloses this before Mark :
"On that very day of my arrival father placed my bed near her's.
Mark Sahab! Do you know what she did at night? She ran towards the
pair of wooden sandals.
Clasping the wooden sandals to her breast she returned to her bed.
Oh! The sight of her clothing slipping down from her breast and
lie near her feet in a deranged state, the wooden sandals on her
breasts.....sixteen years she did sleep together with her husband
in the same bed! Both of them were like shadows of one another.
Mark Sahab, she always does like this.... The wooden sandals sprinkled
with tulsi leaves and flowers on her breasts? Strange sounds coming
out of her lips at dead of night.
Mark Sahab? Mark Sahab?"
(Pp. 100, Dantal Haatir Une Khowa Howda, Upanyash Samagra, Second
This behaviour of Durga is enough to illustrate her sexual desire.
It can be seen that whether be it Durga or Giribala or Saru Gosani-all
of them are discontented and the root cause of their discontentment
lies in their personal lives. Of course, while depicting these characters,
the novelist has not restricted her outlook around their personal
lives alone. Infact the wider social sphere and their mental outlook
as well, is being brought into consideration.
But at this point it is worth mentionable that both women and men
has discontentment in life. The writer has more successfully illustration
this picture of discontentment in woman than man. But this doesn't
mean that she has ignored male characters concerning this aspect.
Through the male character Udaybhanu in her novel "Udaibhanur
Charitra" this dissatisfied hunger has been clearly illustrated.
Udaibhanu is both frustrated and betrayed. In quest of In the moonlit
night the shuttering plates at the work site sparkled like bayonets
of soldiers in a battlefield. The craines seemed to be storks standing
still at the water-front......The excess piers at the embankment
of the Ahiran seemed to be like towers of ancient mansions. The
compressors covered with turpoline seemed to be caravans of camels.
The sucksen pipes lay coiled up as a python. The reinforcement rods
of steel were piled up in a heap like a mountain of rib bones of
the labourers.....The violant sound of the generator, the Ghrr Ghrr
sound of the concrete mixer, the sound of stone crusher....as if
at that time I became one with all these.
Though the struggle of not being able to look up at the sky was
still going on, yet, as if gradually I got the strength to look
up at the sky above. Sometimes this evening sky of Madhya Pradesh
appeared quite fascinating before my eyes. As if pieces of red and
golden clouds were playing about. I felt as if some prince had torn
his golden and red robe into pieces and threw it towards the sky.
I have already mentioned that I didn't see the formation of labourers'
Union by labourers at the branch of river Chandrabhaga. With these
eyes of mine I saw the labourers used like torn-shoes before every
one and display of absolute silence even at the time of horrible
accidents. But when I went to Ahiran in 1974, Union has been formed
in this famous Private company.
I even saw labourers going out on rallies infront of the residence
of the manager Barjor Satarawala. I also saw slogans written on
the walls of the satai-made office. I stayed for a few months at
the work site of the 'Sai Aqueduct' in Raibaraillie inthe year 1976
in order to write the novel 'Mamore Dhora Taruwal'. It was during
my stay there that the task of retrenchment i.e. dismissal of the
labourers started. List of dismissed labourers were being hung onto
the wall of the satai-made office. At first the 'Daily paids' or
'Casual' labourers were dismissed. One by one list of dismissed
labourers were hung outside the time-keeper's office. Chaos started
among the sweepers, fitters, helpers, chowkidaars, cooks of the
langars, servants at the guest house and the other labourers. During
this period the union went on strike. They demanded that the dismissed
labourers should immediately be taken back into work in the various
branches of the company scattered all over India.
The strike went on in full swing.
The work of the company came to a standstill. Some union leaders
staged hunger strike in front of the office of the company.
I observed this strike quite closely.
Holding red flags rallies of half-starved Harijans and other labourers
passed by the barracks.
Gradually this strike took a terrible form. During this period
I heard that a labour leader even shot down an engineer named Shirodkar
of another branch.....Barjor Satarawala was also the manager of
this Sai aqueduct. I was also worried for him. I went to the labourers
who were on hunger strike. Gradually the ghastly form of this long-standing
strike came to my notice. I depicted this very ghastly form in my
novel 'Mamore Dhora Taruwal'. The strength of the labourers' Union
about which I imagined in 'Ahiran', that imagination became almost
devastated at the branch of the Sai aqueduct. I became acquainted
with the leaders of this long-standing strike. I even discussed
with them as because I was in the company of the manager of the
aqueduct himself. I came to know many facts. That the company has
bribed a few union leaders, facts like this came to my knowledge
One day a leader who took lead in the strike (He was a man from
Bengal) asked me, "The manager doesn't talk at all, we have
never ever come across such a person....How do you live in the company
of such a person?"
.......The strike was unsuccessful. The interference of the local
leader had much to do in this failure. Though I have preserved this
failure of the strike as seen by my eyes, yet, at some parts I have
added more colours. This innovation was essential to depict the
truth powerfully. Many of its characters were imaginary. Some imaginary
elements were also added to the main story.
I remained impartial and wrote the story of the strike. According
to me impartiality is the greatest ornament of a writer.
As if somebody whispered into my ears, and reminded, "Writers
ought to be like the sun above the sky." I myself don't know
whether I am successful or not in expressing before people a true
story seen by my eyes in the form of a novel. I believe that it
is the reader who will determine this.
* * *
I got a different kind of pleasure while writing the novel 'Dantal
Haatir Une Khowa Howda'. I was inspired to write this novel by a
sattra of our ancestors situated at the south bank of the Brahmaputra.
This Sattra was the centre of attraction in my childhood days. In
those days I loved the free environment of the sattra more than
the city of Guwahati! I didn't hesitate to go to this sattra even
after remaining absent from my classes in school. At that time if
there was a heaven for me then it was this Sattra. After the demise
of my father the property of the sattra was managed by my uncle
Chandrakanta Goswami. Of course the head of the sattra was one of
my other uncles Ratnakanta. Uncle Chandra was quite affectionate
towards me. Sometimes I went to the sattra on his bicycle. Sometimes
our family went to the sattra sitting in an old Ford car. Our elephant
was kept ready beneath a peepal tree on the bank of the river Jogolia.
This was so because the condition of the road was so bad that half
of the way the elephant had to pull the car. Uncle Ratna had his
education staying at our residence. He was my favourite uncle. I
know almost all the characters of the sattra. The buffon Kalia,
the old Kauriya,old Cheru, money lender Cheniram, Soneswar Mahari38,
the physician of Borihat, Shambhu, Dambhu, Sandhya, Sadha, Satari,
Phulou, Ghontepi, Thaneswari and many such characters strolled about
in a fascinating world....My most favourite character was a widowed
grand mother who stayed all along by herself looking after her property
below the Matia hills. In those childhood days I came into contact
with those poor masses ruined by the habit of opium-eating.
Once upon a time we had elephants. But I saw only one elephant.
Those memories of going for bath in the Jogolia riding on this elephant,
strolling in the forest of the Matia hills riding on this elephant
are still fresh....One by one each of the scenes become visible
before my eyes....
......Over there my aunt is sitting infront of a fire of paddy
At a corner of the courtyard tidy as the skin of a deer, under a
shaddock tree small grand mother is praying to Lord Shiva with offerings
of Karabi flowers and tulsi leaves. She has tied a mekhla around
.Ah! Those people with bare bodies rushing towards the Matia
hills with wooden clubs in hand. There is a tiger at the Matia hills.
Chaos. I am waiting at the gate-house. I was bare-footed, spotted
frock...wavy hair flying in the air....over there father and uncle
are going to do the rites done after the funeral ceremony of grandfather.
Over their heads is a large umbrella-of pink silk. As if the entire
village is following them. Those songs sung by the women in praise
of the Gosain are quite distinct to my ears. Mekhla around their
breasts. Bare feet. Body-scent like the water of the Jogolia.
The old Kauria is following the procession at last playing on the
clarion.....I can distinctly see the bones of his dark body......Over
there is Sadha who is blind by an eye. A large hump on his back,
skeletal body! Giving out peels of laughter he said, "Maichana,
cann't walk, isn't it? Don't touch, don't touch, you will have to
Over there is our huge elephant Rajendra! He has a sore on his leg.
He is sleeping like a man.....Uncle assisted the vet coming across
the river in applying medicine on the sore of his leg. The children
of the sattra crowded to see this scene. They are nude. Their bodies
are smeared with mud. Drum like stomachs with worms inside.
Ah! I am sitting inside the small room of the mahut Kalto. He is
frying betel leaf in a pan. He is taking out small balls of opium
from the fold of his dhoti and mixing it with the bettle leaf.......
"Maichana what are you looking at!....It is quite agonising
if I don't eat opium! Quite agonising!!"
.....Now I am entering into the wide forest within our compound
holding onto the hand of my uncle!....A pleasant smell! Wild flower,
sweet scented lemon! Saal, Simalu, Gomari, Nageswar, Khoira, Gandhasoroi......countless
names were pronounced by uncle......He asked me to count the bee
There can be heard bridal songs. Nalinibai is singing bridal songs....We
the children are going out for a stroll towards Borihat in a bullock
cart without bamboo curtains. In the bright light of the moon the
elephant binding grounds seem to be the open locks of grand mother.
* * *
....In this way several such scenes related to our sattra situated
at the southern bank of the Brahmaputra comes to my mind. Based
on these memories and stories I have written my novel 'Dantal Haatir
Une Khowa Howda'.
While writing this novel I felt as if I was moving about along with
those favourite characters of mine of the past around this sattra.
........Of course there was tint of imagination in the story of
the novel. Though I have selected the main characters of the novel
from among my favourite characters, yet, there is much tint of imagination
in these characters. During the period of writing while coming to
Guwahati from Delhi several times, I went to the sattra....This
sattra frequently reminded me of the pathetic tale of separation.
Those characters who inspired me to write this novel are no more
there. The Gosani who was the inspiration of writing about the character
of Saru Gosani, has been burnt at one side of the Matia hill. I
saw only half burnt wood and a heap of ashes as the remains of her
funeral pyre. In 1989 I saw one more favourite character of mine
in a pathetic condition. She was lying in a cow-shed as an ailing
woman. During the day hours she was dragged out to the court yard
and left out in the sun. Again she was dragged back into the cow-shed.
When I stood in front of her she couldn't recognise me. When she
recognised me then tears rolled down her cheeks. As if some invisible
parts within the heart slide down. I felt such a vacuum then. I
couldn't exactly express in writing how this agony of separation
and meeting dear ones took me to a mysterious world. I loved every
body equally with my heart.
Apart from the short stories a part of life is there within most
of my novels. I love to knit the illusionary net of imagination
and reality. I dream of deprived people achieving dignity. That
the descriptions can give a realistic picture, I never fail to attend
.......I also try to portray the descriptions of my short-story
During the time of writing the short story 'Hriday' the description
of a morgue was also felt required. I thought that it would be proper
for me to go and see a morgue of Delhi before giving such a description.
One day I went to see a morgue situated near 'Sabji mandi' Baraf
khana in Delhi along with a friend named Mahesh Gupta. Mahesh Gupta
is an employee of Intelligence branch under the government of India.
This morgue was in front of the church built in memory of Doctor
William Buttler by the Methodist Mission. On the day I went to this
morgue, many dead bodies were been laid there who died at a train
accident at chowki No. 2 of Delhi. Till then identification wasn't
done. There was also a dead body of a girl who had committed suicide
due to her failure in examination. I wonder why the in-charge of
the morgue promptly gave me the permission to go inside, but a few
police officers looked at me with suspicion. the in-charge ordered
the servants to clear the path by removing the dead bodies and clean
the blood stained bed of stone where post mortem is done. The doctor
doing post-mortem looked at me suspiciously. He was relucant to
answer to my questions properly. I went inside. Mahesh Gupta followed
me with a handkerchief pressed to his nose. I didn't cover my nose
with a handkerchief as because I have to give the exact description.
i.e. I have to describe the smell even. At that time the smell of
this room seemed to me like the smell of mouldy rice.
Of course clots of blood were still left on the stony bed even
after it was cleaned up. There was slimy blood within the cracks
still them. Two dead bodies were lying starked naked. Suddenly I
saw Mahesh dashing out of the room and start vomiting. It was a
little later that I saw the servants had left a severed head over
a dead body in haste. The head rolled onto the floor and perhaps
Mahesh Gupta stumbled against it. The strange fact is this that
I wasn't the least disturbed at seeing such a scene.
I could give a complete description of this morgue in my short story
.....In this way I brought reality and imagination into my literature.
Literature and life has become identical for me now.
[Compiled from various books of the writer, © The Writer]