A MOTHER’S TRAUMA

Shanti lifted the folds of her sari, tucked them in her waist and hurriedly ascended the flight of stairs to the first floor. She rang the doorbell, pushed the partially opened door and headed straight towards the kitchen. “Ma’am,” she called out.

Malini was on the roof terrace of their two-storey building, cutting some stems of flowers that she had planted in several large flowerpots. She heard the doorbell ring and Shanti’s loud voice calling out to her. She came down through the narrow stairs slowly and entered her house through the door which Shanti had left fully open. “You’re late today,” she said.

“Actually Ma’am…” Shanti tried to give an explanation but Malini interrupted, instructing her to carry on with the regular household chores because she knew that some sort of excuse would blurt out as usual.

“Ma’am,” Shanti called out again after sometime. “I need your help once more,” she said in a pleading tone, as she washed the utensils kept in the sink.

Malini understood that she needed money in advance. “What’s the matter, Shanti?” she asked.

“A proposal has come for Rupa and I will arrange her marriage at an earliest possible date,” she replied in a serious tone. Rupa was her only daughter who recently took admission in a college.

“That’s nice, but why do you want to hurry?” Malini asked, placing a crystal flower vase decked with colourful gladioli in the centre of the dining table.

“In fact, I don’t want to take any risk, Ma’am,” she replied.

“What kind of risk? You should let Rupa complete her graduation,” Malini advised.

After finishing her work in the kitchen, Shanti went towards the grilled balcony to get the broom that was lying in a corner. She picked it up and entered the living room. “Ma’am, can you kindly lend me twenty thousand rupees for Rupa’s marriage?” she made a request.

“Alright, I’ll help you. So, the pressure must be from the bridegroom’s side I guess,” Malini said, as she flipped off the fan switch and began to open the windows of the room one after another.

Shanti shook her head. “No Ma’am, nothing like that.” She took a deep breath. “I don’t want the same mistake to happen again,” she mumbled.

“What do you mean?” Malini asked, hearing her faint words though.

Shanti’s eyes became moist. “Ma’am…” her lips quivered.

Malini understood that she wanted to tell something. “Yes?”

“Ma’am, Rita’s fault made me lost faith,” she said in a low voice.

“Who’s Rita?” Malini asked, looking straight into her eyes.

“She is my elder daughter, Ma’am.” Shanti could hardly speak.

“What! But you told me that Rupa is your only daughter,” Malini said, perplexed.

“Not only to you Ma’am, but to everyone after I disowned her,” Shanti said, trying to hold back her tears.

“Oh! But why did you have to do that?” Malini asked anxiously.

“It is a bitter episode of my life, Ma’am,” Shanti said, covering her face with her hands.

Malini did not know whether she should ask any other questions further but simultaneously she wanted to know what happened between Shanti and Rita and what could be the reason behind the disownment.

“Ma’am, you have never refused me whenever I was in need of money. I should not have kept lying to you at least, by saying that Rupa is my only daughter. I am sorry,” Shanti said after a while, with feelings of guilt. She continued, “Today, I will tell you the truth and about the trauma that I had to go through.”

She sat down and began to narrate the distressing chapter of her life.

***

Decades ago, Shanti’s husband died in an accident. Her two daughters, who were five years apart in age, were very young then and hence she had to work hard to make a living. She took up part-time jobs in many houses so that she could send Rita and Rupa to a school. As they grew up, she made them efficient in cooking, embroidery and doing all the household work as well.

In due course of time, a suitable proposal came for her elder daughter and with her consent, Shanti made plans for the wedding. She borrowed money from all the houses where she worked and promised to return the cash gradually, by accepting only half of her earnings from the following month.

All the necessary arrangements were almost ready, but on the day prior to marriage, Rita eloped. Not even once did she give a hint to her mother or her sister that she was in love with a boy from their neighbourhood.

Shanti was in utter dismay. She did not know what to do. Rupa was dumbstruck. She began to weep. “Don’t shed tears for that selfish one!” Shanti shouted in rage. “Neither did she care to think about me and nor about your future. She had evidently seen how much effort I had put into the preparations and managed everything all alone with my hard-earned money, yet she kept quiet all along. If she wanted to get married to that particular boy, then she should have told me the day itself when I had asked for her consent. Why would I disagree to her choice? Now, what shall I say to the bridegroom and his parents? And how shall I face the guests whom I had invited?”

Shanti screamed angrily in such a manner that one by one, soon the neighbours gathered to enquire what was going on in her house. They tried to console her but Shanti just could not control her frustration. She continued yelling, “Everybody come and see the consequence of my affection towards my offspring. I raised her with great care and never did let her feel the absence of a father, but still I fell short of my expectations.”

Rupa went and hugged her mother. After a long time, tears rolled down from Shanti’s eyes. She wiped them quickly and said in a stern voice, “Henceforth, only Rupa is my daughter and I disown that wretched girl who betrayed me. Listen all of you, from now on, no one should ask me about her.”

Hearing Shanti’s words, there was commotion among the people present there. They expressed their sympathy for her and concurrently rebuked Rita for leaving her mother in a state of shock and heart-broken.

The crowd dispersed eventually and the news of Rita’s elopement spread wide. With immense discomfort, Shanti set out to the bridegroom’s house to inform them about the shameful incident and to seek their forgiveness. They were equally shocked to hear the disgraceful fact and thus humiliated Shanti to a great extent, as they also dreaded facing embarrassment from people.

Shanti returned home with much disappointment. She sat still in the verandah. The harsh words said to her by the bridegroom’s parents kept coming in her thoughts. Bit by bit, her wrath towards Rita began to increase.

Rupa felt unhappy seeing her grief-stricken mother. She came and sat beside her. “Mummy,” she said and held Shanti’s hands. “Please calm down. I can comprehend how you’re feeling but nothing can be done which has already happened. You have to acknowledge the circumstances anyway. It won’t be easy for you I know, but try and forgive her…”

“No, I will never forgive her. Don’t keep pursuing me,” Shanti interrupted adamantly. She continued, “You are still young and so you are not able to understand the agony of a mother. I know, it would be tough for anyone else too, to accept such a situation.” Then, shaking her forefinger, she asserted, “Mark my words. The one who hurts a parent will also get hurt one day, sooner or later.”

“Mummy, I hope your words would not turn out to be a curse. I know that she will not get your blessings because what she has done is a big blunder indeed. But she is your daughter after all and I wish you shall not keep holding a grudge against her forever.” Rupa tried to pacify her mother.

***

Malini felt sad hearing the account. “Don’t worry, Shanti. Everything will go well this time,” she said, giving her a cup of tea and a sandwich.

Shanti heaved a long sigh. “After a very long period of time, I have spoken about this topic,” she said slowly. “Believe me Ma’am, my heart feels much lighter now.”

Malini smiled at her. “God bless you and your daughters! Have faith in Him always,” she said.

 

[Published in May 2018 issue of ‘Indian Ruminations’, a journal of Indian English Writers]

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FRIENDS FOREVER

I’m happy for a friend like you,

One who is very special and true.

Decades ago from the day we met,

Your friendship is a treasure I can bet.

Your nature is polite and smile beautiful,

For your inspiring words I’m ever grateful.

I can’t forget your guidance and loving care,

And the funny jokes too that we often share.

Over the years we ever understood each other,

I sincerely wish that we would be friends forever.

 

[Published in the poetry website ‘HighOnPoems’ on 23 February 2018]

REST IN PEACE

(A tribute to Dr Pranab Baruah,

our dear Pulak Kokaideu)

 

The harsh reality of life occurred all of a sudden,

Thus compelled him to leave the world mundane,

Creating a void amid all and leaving us in pain,

Yet, we still seek for our dear ‘Godfather’ in vain.

 

Not only a worthy son and an affectionate brother,

But also an ideal husband and a loving father,

For the entire family, he stood like a strong pillar,

And his patients looked up to him as a saviour.

 

To lend a helping hand he was always willing,

With a smile on his lips and words encouraging,

Kind at heart, sober and ever charming,

He was an epitome of a good human being.

 

His roof-top garden had orchids plentiful,

And he planted saplings of flowers beautiful,

Hard work paved way for his career successful,

Serving all during adversity was his nature dutiful.

 

Through this tribute, we pray for your journey new,

With myriad fond memories, all of us truly miss you,

Our hearts are full and hence the words are few,

“Rest in peace…” with tears in our eyes, we bid adieu.

 

[Published in the souvenir ‘Ashruxikto Smritir Koroni’ on 29 January 2018]

ATTRACTIONS OF TRIPURA

Our three-day trip to Tripura started on the first week of December last year. We enjoyed exploring the capital city and went on to visit Udaipur, Melaghar, Kasba and Akhaura as well.

Tripura, one of the Northeastern States of India, shares its border with Assam in the north-east, with Mizoram in the east and is surrounded by Bangladesh on its south, west and north. Greenery and water bodies are found in abundance in many regions of the State.

Our first destination was Tripureswari Temple, situated near Udaipur, about 55 kilometres from Agartala. Commonly known as Matabari, this temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths of Hindu mythology. It is believed that Sati’s right leg fell there when Lord Shiva in remorse, performed the celestial dance of destruction, carrying the remains of his wife’s self-immolated body. The temple stands on a small hillock and the beautiful lake, Kalyan Sagar, lies behind it.

Next, we went to Neermahal, the lone water palace of the North-east, situated in Melaghar. This spectacular monument is in the middle of the vast Rudrasagar Lake. After buying our tickets, we proceeded towards the beautiful palace on a motor-boat. The palace is divided into two parts. The main area has two sections, consisting of several rooms and balconies for the king and queen separately. On our journey back on the motor-boat, we spotted some migratory birds.

At Melaghar, we visited the Pagli Mashi temple to get a glimpse of an old woman who is thronged by people to seek her blessings.

We then made our way through Bishalgarh towards the Kali Temple of Kasba. This temple stands on a hillock and the lake Kamalasagar in front, adds to its beauty.

We then headed to Akhaura, about two kilometers away from Agartala. It is the Indo-Bangladesh border where the flag lowering ceremony takes place between the two countries. We clicked pictures at the international border and returned thereafter.

The next day, our first destination was the magnificent white Ujjayanta Palace, the main attraction of the capital city. Popularly known as ‘Rajbari’, this former royal abode of the ruling Manikya dynasty stands on a lakefront and is now the Tripura State Museum.

Located near the Ujjayanta Palace is the Jagannath temple, also known as Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math. After offering prayers, we visited Venuvan Vihar, a Buddhist shrine, located at Kunjaban.

The Heritage Park is another tourist attraction of the city, situated at Kunjaban. The park is designed as mini Tripura, showcasing the undulating landscape with tiny railway stations, and replicas of Tripura’s landmarks. Several water bodies are beautifully presented in miniature form.

The Chaturdas Devata Temple at Old Agartala was the last destination of our trip. This temple is unique as it looks like a stupa and as the name implies, there are 14 deities that are worshipped.

As we moved through the streets of the city, we caught sight of the construction work going on for the long flyover that would be the first in Tripura, which would cover a distance of more than two kilometres. We also went through many Chowmuhanis, which meant crossroads in the local language.

While exploring the attractions of Tripura, we relished the delicious cuisine that included fish curries of the famous hilsa and pavda. Our trip ended well and we brought with us wonderful memories captured in pictures.

[Published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ on 5 January 2018]

MILES TO STRIDE

March on, O comrades!

Shed off weariness,

Myriad milestones

accomplished,

Many more miles to stride…

Promises to abide by,

Thousand homes to

illuminate,

Dedication for a cause,

Contributions towards

development…

We assemble to meet,

Dine, discuss and decide,

Protection of rights to

workers,

Long life of the Union…

 

[Published in the souvenir ‘Spectrum’ at the 19th Conference of NEEPCO Workers’ Union held from 19 to 21 March 2016]

DEUTA: MY STRENGTH

Deuta’s journey to the heavenly abode on 23 February 2015 at International Hospital, Guwahati due to cardiac arrest, has left a deep void in my life. Departure to another world is a harsh reality but this inevitable fact is really being hard for me to accept.

Deuta was born on 14th April 1935 to Late Dr.Dharani Kanta Baruah and Late Kusum Kumari Baruah of Madhyam Khanda, North Guwahati. Dr.Ramani Kanta Baruah, as he was known, received education started at Chenikuthi Primary School, Guwahati, followed by Kamrup Academy, Guwahati and Sipajhar High School, Sipajhar. In 1952, he passed matriculation examination from Barpeta Govt. H.E. School and then I.Sc (Intermediate Science) from Cotton College, Guwahati.

After his MBBS degree from Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh, he started his career as Medical Officer at Assam Oil Company in 1963, posted at Digboi. Assam Oil Company was then owned by the British and later it merged with Indian Oil Corporation and a new division was set up known as Assam Oil Division.

He married Tarini, my mother on 23 January 1967. In 1972, he completed DLO (Diploma in Oto Laryngology) from GSVM Medical College, Kanpur. His service continued as Additional Chief Medical Officer (ENT) in IOC (AOD) Hospital, Digboi. He got promoted to become Principal Medical Officer in 1992. After 31 years of service, he retired on 30 November 1994. Since 1995 he has been staying in his residence at Jironi, Ashok Path, Survey, Beltola, Guwahati.

Deuta involved himself in various activities. He was a life member of Indian Medical Association, Indian Red Cross Society, IMA Academy of Medical Specialities, Doctors Guild and also a member of Association of Otolaryngologist of India. As a doctor, he was always compassionate towards his patients.

There shall be short of space if I right down all about him. I always feel fortunate to have him as my father and I believe that it is God’s blessings. Deuta is my strength, my inspiration. His advice, guidance and confidence in me has helped me to step forward in my life.

Deuta loved to play sitar and during his years in college he participated in various competitions and bagged prizes. He taught me to play sitar when I was in class 7. We both performed sitar recitals (duet) in Digboi accompanied by my brothers Dulumoni on table and Janmoni on the harmonium.

There was always a strong attachment between Deuta and me and I knew that he loved me the most. We were like friends and he shared many things with me. Our choices, likes and dislikes were also similar. He always lent a patient ear when I told him about any of my problems. I felt relieved when he showed me the ways how to solve them.

He had a magnetic personality and I specially admired his wonderful art of speaking. Punctuality, discipline and hard work were the keys of his successful career. He performed his duties with great devotion, determination and dedication.

Deuta’s demise is a personal loss to me physically but he shall be omnipresent through his blessings and memories. I offer my sincere prayers for his eternal peace.

 

[Published in the souvenir ‘Xomoy Balir Khujbur’ on 5 March 2015]

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

We know not,

What future has in store,

We only know but,

What we have done before.

 

Never to worry about,

What shall happen next,

Better to think of,

Only to perform best.

 

Let’s live happily,

In the moment present,

Just relish and cherish,

The good times spent.

 

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 11 February 2014]

DEW-DROPS

Dew-drops,Dew-drops on a flower

Adorn a morn,

Glitter like pearls,

Cling on to cobwebs,

Rest on petals and grass,

As if to herald the golden sun,

And shine with a bright sparkle.

 

[Published in the poetry website ‘HighOnPoems’ on 21 January 2014]

WHY?

Days pass by

and I sometimes

wonder…

Why do we do

certain things?

Helping an old man

to cross the street

and helping a child

who has lost his way.

Perhaps, for the

love of mankind

and sympathy

towards one another,

that we go forward

to extend

a helping hand

even to a stranger.

 

[Published in the e-journal ‘Induswomanwriting.com’ in January 2014 issue]

FOOTPRINTS

He left his footprints,
For us to trail,
His legacy unparalleled,
‘Mahapurush’ we hail.

Born at Bordowa,
Nurtured by his grandmother,
A child prodigy,
His pilgrimage thereafter.

Founded a new cult,
‘Ek Saran Naam Dharma’,
Preached doctrines of ‘Vaishnavism’,
Set up ‘Namghar’ and ‘Satra’.

Composed devotional songs ‘Borgeet’,
Wrote ‘Bhakti Ratnakar’, ‘Kirtan Ghosha’,
Created one act plays ‘Ankiya-Naat’,
Innovated the dance form ‘Satriya’.

An inspiration for all,
A great humanitarian he was,
Enriched Assamese culture and literature,
Lived for hundred and eighteen years.

He is Srimanta Sankardev,
An outstanding personality ever,
A versatile genius of creativity,
The saint, scholar, and reformer.

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 3 January 2014]

দেৱালয়

আমি সকলোৱে ভগৱানক বিশ্বাস কৰোঁ আৰু দেৱালয় দৰ্শন কৰি ধূপ-চাকি জ্বলাই প্ৰাৰ্থনা কৰোঁ | “দেৱালয়” দুটা শব্দৰে গঠিত – “দেৱ” আৰু “আলয়” | “দেৱ” মানে দেৱতা বা দেৱী আৰু “আলয়” মানে ঘৰ | সাধাৰণ অৰ্থত দেৱী-দেৱতাৰ ঘৰ | ইয়াক মন্দিৰ, ধাম, দ’ল বুলিও কয় | অসমৰ নানা ঠাইত বহুতো বিখ্যাত দেৱালয় আছে |

১. কামাখ্যা

কামাখ্যা শক্তিপীঠ গুৱাহাটীৰ নীলাচল পাহাৰত অৱস্থিত | এই দেৱালয়লৈ ভাৰতৰ বিভিন্ন ঠাইৰ পৰা অলেখ ভক্ত আহে মনৰ কামনা পূৰণৰ বাবে | বহুত পৌৰাণিক কথা এই মন্দিৰৰ লগত জড়িত আছে | নৰকাসুৰ নামৰ এক অসুৰে কামাখ্যা দেৱীক বিয়া কৰিবলৈ বিচাৰিছিল | অসুৰটোৱে প্ৰস্তাৱটো দিয়াত দেৱীয়ে এটা বুদ্ধি সাজিলে | তেওঁ নৰকাসুৰক ক’লে যে যদি এৰাতিৰ ভিতৰতে সি নীলাচল পাহাৰৰ তলৰ পৰা ওপৰত থকা মন্দিৰলৈ এটা চিৰি সাজিব পাৰে তেন্তে তেওঁ তাৰ সৈতে বিয়া হ’ব | নৰকাসুৰে স্বৰ্ত্তটো মানি ল’লে আৰু ৰাতি হোৱাৰ লগে লগে কামত লাগিল | চিৰিটো প্ৰায় সম্পূৰ্ণ হ’বলৈ ধৰাত দেৱী বিপাঙত পৰিল | তেওঁ তেতিয়া কুকুৰা এটাক ডাক দিয়ালে আৰু পুৱা হ’ল বুলি ঘোষণা কৰিলে | নৰকাসুৰ হাৰিল | সেই আধা সজা চিৰিটোক “মেখেলা উজোৱা পথ” বুলি জনা যায় |

২. নৱগ্ৰহ

এই দেৱালয় গুৱাহাটীৰ দক্ষিণ-পূব দিশে থকা চিত্ৰাচল পাহাৰৰ ওপৰত অৱস্থিত | ৰবি, চন্দ্ৰ, মঙল, বুধ, বৃহস্পতি, শুক্ৰ, শনি, ৰাহু আৰু কেতু – এই ৯টা গ্ৰহক ইয়াত পূজা কৰা হয় |

৩. দৌল-গোবিন্দ

উত্তৰ গুৱাহাটীৰ ৰজাদ্বাৰ অঞ্চলত এই দেৱালয় অৱস্থিত | ইয়াত নিতৌ পূজা-অৰ্চনা কৰা হয় আৰু শেষত সকলো ভক্তকে ভোগ বিতৰণ কৰে| দৌল পূৰ্ণিমাত এক আনন্দমুখৰ পৰিবেশ দেখা যায় |

৪. উমানন্দ

গুৱাহাটীৰ পৰা কিছু নিলগত ব্ৰহ্মপুত্ৰ নদীৰ এক দ্বীপত এই দেৱালয় অৱস্থিত | হিন্দু শাস্ত্ৰৰ মতে এই ঠাই ভগৱান শিৱই সৃষ্টি কৰিছিল তেওঁৰ পত্নী “উমা”ৰ আনন্দৰ বাবে | সেয়ে নামকৰণ হ’ল “উমানন্দ” |

৫. মহাভৈৰৱ

এই প্ৰসিদ্ধ দেৱালয় তেজপুৰত অৱস্থিত | শিৱৰাত্ৰিৰ দিনা ইয়াত বহুতো ভক্তৰ সমাগম হয় | ইতিহাসৰ মতে, ই বহুত পুৰণি আৰু শিলেৰে নিৰ্মিত | ভূমিকম্পত কিছু অংশ নষ্ট হোৱাত নতুনকৈ নিৰ্মাণ কৰোঁতে চিমেন্ট, বালি আদি ব্যৱহাৰ কৰা হৈছিল |

৬. শিৱ-দ’ল

শিৱসাগৰৰ বিশাল বৰপুখুৰীৰ পাৰত এই দেৱালয় অৱস্থিত | শাওণ মাহত ইয়ালৈ বহুতো তীৰ্থযাত্ৰী আহি শিৱলিঙ্গত পৱিত্ৰ পানী আৰু গাখীৰ ঢালি পূজা কৰে |

 

[প্ৰকাশ: ‘আৰম্ভণি’; তাৰিখ: ১৯ ডিচেম্বৰ ২০১৩]

A SLEEPLESS NIGHT

She kept awake

whole night long,

her eyelids

refused to bow

and a thought

whirled

round and round.

Seconds, minutes

and hours gone,

slumber stood

at the threshold,

the moon sailed

through the sky

reflecting light

all around

but her thought

recurred

round and round.

She felt miserable

and it seemed as if

huge black curtains

were forcefully

pulled before her,

blocking her vision

of radiant light,

leaving her

farthest behind,

leaving her

all alone,

all by herself.

 

[Published in the e-journal ‘Induswomanwriting.com’ in November 2013 issue] 

ASSET

Do we analyse what we lack?

Do we judge where we stand?

We feel uncomfortable seeing others

Standing on pedestals.

We try to pull them down

Instead of pulling ourselves up.

A sand-clock looks

Half full and half empty.

Why not try to fill up the void?

Perhaps we lack an asset.

The asset of courage,

The courage to move forward,

To judge ourselves,

To assess where we lack.

 

 [Published in the poetry website ‘Firebird Poetry’ on 23 October 2013]

SEASON SOJOURN

O winged ones,

You come in thousands

From distant lands

To enjoy the cool lap

Of the winter season

And enjoy your sojourn.

Don’t you feel weary

Flying across the miles?

I overwhelm with

Feelings of wonder

As I observe your unity,

Strength and splendour.

 

[Published in the poetry website ‘PoemsClub.com’ on 10 October 2013]

TIME

Time waits for none,

A moment if we shun,

We’ll find the difference,

Its worth, packed with chance.

It can make us or mar us,

Every second depends on us,

Whether we plan properly,

Or be idle, lazy and sleepy.

It’s certainly a great healer,

Also life’s best teacher,

The perfect time is the present,

To utilise it and win a present.

 

[Published in the poetry websites – ‘Firebird Poetry’ on 7 October 2013 & ‘PoemsClub.com’ on 9 October 2013]

REMEMBERING GANDHIJI

Born to our great motherland India,

We regard you as ‘Father of the Nation’.

Your greatness was your simplicity,

Your life was an example of integrity.

You followed the teachings of ‘Gita’,

Kabiguru entitled you ‘Mahatma’.

Gandhiji, we love to call you ‘Bapu’,

We, the nation, pay homage to you.

 

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 1 October 2013]

BREAK FREE

We are born free,

Yet find ourselves,

Fastened with shackles.

 

Attachments confine us,

Inflict pain at times,

A search for solace sometimes.

 

We yearn to break free,

Escape and flee,

To somewhere unknown.

 

But can we live alone,

Or can we stay long,

In a place unknown?

 

Responsibilities summon us,

Relationships beckon us,

To bring us back to reality.

 

[Published in the website ‘Boloji.com’ on 23 September 2013]

BHOGALI BIHU

Season’s yield,

Granaries filled,

Mid-January,

Festival Bhogali.

Uruka evening,

Enjoyment and feasting,

Building the Bhelaghar,

Pranks with the neighbour.

The morning after,

Obeisance to the God of fire,

Burning the tall Meji,

Made of bamboo and paddy.

Sunga pitha, kaath aloo,

Customary delights of Magh Bihu,

With friends and families,

Flavours of Assamese delicacies.

 

[Published in the poetry website ‘Poetreecreations’ on 8 September 2013]

 

Short note: Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival of Assam, a state of North-East India. The festival is celebrated in mid-January, marking the end of the harvest season. Bhogali means feasting and enjoyment. It is also known as Magh Bihu as celebrations are held in the month of Magh, the tenth month of the Assamese calendar. On the eve known as Uruka, people gather for a community feast with friends and families. A variety of dishes that include meat and fish are cooked over wood flame. Using bamboo and paddy, a temporary hut called Bhelaghar and a tall structure known as Meji are built. Merriment continues throughout the night as youths play pranks like stealing vegetables from the neighbour’s garden. Next morning, offerings are made to the God of fire and people enjoy the traditional delicacies like sunga pitha, kaath aloo etc.

MISUNDERSTANDING

Dark clouds of depression

loomed in her mind,

followed by long sighs,

accompanied by sobs.

Few minutes later,

came a heavy downpour

of salty water,

continuing for an hour.

The clock ticked

and as the cell beeped,

a smile peeped

through the wet cheeks.

Had she gone out of her mind

or was there a reason for it?

A misunderstanding?

A coincidence, that’s it!

The name announced on media,

a deceased victim of the blast,

matched with the name

that was close to her heart.

Relief approached

as she answered the beep,

sent to her by one

who was close indeed.

 

[Published in the e-journal ‘Induswomanwriting.com’ in September 2013 issue]

INTROSPECTION

Through an introspection,

One can analyze any reaction.

Situations remain the same,

But we try to put the blame.

When do we feel good?

When do we behave rude?

When everything goes our way,

We feel good, happy, and gay.

If anything turns turtle,

We become unstable.

Circumstances make us dependent.

But, don’t we like to be independent?

Well, attitude should change,

Evade incidents out of range.

Instead of regulating the outer,

We should try managing the inner.

Controlling outer events and past,

A difficult task, but forgetting is a must.

Contriving the inner-self and thoughts,

Would work wonders and achieve lots.

 

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 20 August 2013]

STRANGER

My mind was filled

With too many thoughts,

Thoughts of the past,

Thoughts of the future,

Thoughts about my near and dear;

I began to worry,

I was unhappy,

I felt so heavy.

One night, I saw in a dream,

A stranger on a train

Sitting opposite to me

And asking me,

‘Why are you unhappy?’

I was shocked!

Had he the power to read my mind?

He said slowly,

‘Let go everything,

Fix your mind on the Almighty,

Think of Him

And He shall think about you.’

I woke up with a start!

Who was this stranger?

I thought,

Well, let me try.

I let go everything,

Began to think of Him,

My worries disappeared,

I felt so happy and so light!

 

[Published in the poetry website ‘Poetreecreations’ on 15 August 2013]

NOT FOR LONG

Bad days do not last long,

One should have patience,

To overcome them all.

 

As the day ends,

Darkness rules all over,

But not for long.

 

With the change of seasons,

Winter brings about chill,

But not for long.

 

Trees shed off leaves,

Appear like dead trees,

But not for long.

 

Hurdles emerge in life,

Rays of hope seem shadowed,

But never for long.

 

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 8 August 2013]

হৃদয়ৰ গান

নিবিড় সন্ধ্যা প্ৰকাশ কৰো মনৰ কথা,

শুনিবানে তুমি কিমান মোৰ ভালপোৱা ?

তোমাক দেখাৰ পৰা মোৰ মন উৰি ফুৰে,

দূৰ দিগন্তত উৰি ফুৰা পখীৰ দৰে |

মন নবহে ক’তো, মাথো ৰচে সপোন,

তুমি চিৰ মোৰ বাবে অন্তৰৰ দাপোন |

তোমাকেই বিচাৰো নয়ন যেনিয়ে যায়,

অলেখ ৰং বিচাৰি পালো তোমাক লগ পায় |

 

[প্ৰকাশ: ‘আই’; আগষ্ট সংখ্যা ২০১৩]

SELF-DEFENCE

Dreams began to wane

as she faced distress

and she proclaimed

there were lots to express.

Physical tortures

day in and day out,

character assassination

by holding doubt.

Restrain imposed

on pursuing her career,

severe criticism

for not being fair.

Harassment by

demands of dowry

and an heir

on the first delivery.

 

Her endurance one day

lost the bound

and extreme courage

she finally found.

To get rid

of the evil monster,

she sprinkled pesticide

in a fried lobster.

Hours later,

the neighbours gathered,

‘self-slaughter’

they all murmured.

None suspected

it to be a mystery,

‘self-defence’

she sighed silently.

 

[Published in the e-journal ‘Induswomanwriting.com’ in July 2013 issue]

THE LOST SMILE

In the corner of her cheeks

There was a sweet smile

That reflected her heart’s contentment

And displayed a horizon of happiness.

A bolt from the blue one day

Crushed her innocent smile,

Concealed her enthusiasm

And made her miserable.

Her cheeks now fail to show

That charming exquisite smile

Which could perhaps make

The faint stars twinkle,

Brighten up myriad lamps,

Kindle hope in the heart of a forlorn.

 

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 20 June 2013]

মাতৃভাষা

ভাল পাওঁ আমি আমাৰ

মৰমৰ মাতৃভাষা,

প্ৰকাশ কৰো সহজে সকলো

অনুভূতি ও মনৰ আশা |

নানা ভাষা শিকো আমি

দেশী, বিদেশী আৰু অন্যান্য,

অতিকৈ আপোন সবাটোকৈ সুৱলা

হে মাতৃভাষা তুমি ধন্য |

বিশ্বৰ সৈতে খোজ মিলাবলৈ

অতি আৱশ্যক ইংৰাজী শিক্ষা,

সেইবুলি জানো অৱহেলা কৰিম

নিজ মাতৃভাষাৰ পঢ়া-লিখা ?

 

[প্ৰকাশ: ‘আৰম্ভণি’ ; তাৰিখ: ২০ জুন ২০১৩]

DANSEUSE

She speaks through her steps,

Dancing and revolving,

Expressing her art,

Going beyond the self,

A bond with the Supreme power,

A complete surrender

Of the mind and the heart,

A performance

Filled with true devotion.

 

[Published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ on 7 June 2013]

REMINISCING SARADA DEVI, THE HOLY MOTHER, WHOSE BIRTH ANNIVERSARY IS CELEBRATED AS ‘MATRI DIVAS’

‘Matri Divas’ is celebrated on the twenty-second of December to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sarada Devi, who was fondly known as ‘Maa Sarada’ or the ‘Holy Mother’. According to Swami Vivekananda, she was an illustration of an ideal woman due to her selfless service and liberal outlook towards enrichment of common people and transformation of the nation.

On 22 December 1853, Sarada Devi was born to Ramchandra Mukhopadhyay and Shyama Sundari Devi who lived in Jayrambati, a village in West Bengal. Since childhood, she was inclined to spirituality. She tried to learn the Bengali alphabet but had no access to formal education.

At the age of six, she was married to Sri Ramkrishna, who followed the path of spirituality. But she continued to stay with her parents and engaged herself in performing all the household duties. When she reached eighteen years of age, she went to Dakhineshwar to meet Ramkrishna. Her husband received her with pleasure and they stayed together living pure and religious lives.

In the year 1872, Sarada Devi was worshipped through rituals as Divine Mother and the trait of universal motherhood concealed in her got awakened. Subsequently, she began to perceive the disciples of her husband as her own children. She spent her entire life caring and serving everyone.

In 1886, Ramkrishna passed away and Sarada Devi set out on a pilgrimage. Later, she was brought to Calcutta by the disciples of her husband. The turning point of her life started as she began to receive plenty of devotees. With a compassionate heart of a mother, she embraced everyone, even people who led immoral lives.

Inspite of being worshipped as Holy Mother; she led a very simple life, doing all the household tasks all by herself. She ever remained calm and blessed one and all who came to meet her. She possessed virtues of purity, patience, wisdom, spiritual perception, universal love and compassion.

During the ultimate phase of her life, her physical condition began to decline. She became weak due to frequent attacks of malaria. On 21 July 1920, she breathed her last.

To reminisce and pay tributes to the Holy Mother Sarada Devi, ‘Matri Divas’ is celebrated every year on twenty second December. The day is observed to acknowledge every mother, who plays a vital role in the development of her children since she is the essence of creation and the first tutor of her child.

 

[Published in ‘Ezine Articles’ on 6 June 2013]

NATURE’S LAMENT

Unpleasant feelings veil her

And she laments in agony,

Helplessly observing from the horizon…

Evergreen trees and dense forests

Mercilessly being cut and cleared,

Modern endeavours by humans

Damaging the beautiful environment.

She sheds tears in pain

And makes a silent appeal…

Plant and conserve trees,

Make the surroundings green,

Love Nature, save environment.

 

[Published in ‘Your Space’ of the e-journal ‘Muse India’ on 5 June 2013]

CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY MAHARISHI VED VYAS, THE AUTHOR OF THE EPIC ‘MAHABHARATA’

Immense contributions were made by the great gurus of India during ancient times. Maharishi Ved Vyas is well known for protecting the Vedas and preserving knowledge.

Krishna Dwaipayan, popularly known as Ved Vyas, was born in Kalpi Island of the Yamuna River on the full moon day in the month of ‘Ashadh’ (June-July). His father was Sage Parashar, the grandson of Sage Vasishtha and his mother was Matsyagandha, a fisher girl whose original name was Satyawati. When Sage Parashar died, Satyawati got married to Shantanu, the king of Hastinapur.

Ved Vyas composed the great epic ‘Mahabharata’ which is read worldwide even today. He recorded all the history for the future generations and rendered ‘Gita’ as a part of the epic, which still serves as an ideal guide to every human being for positive actions and living a purposeful life.

Vyas made great efforts in preserving the voluminous store of Vedic knowledge. At first when he doubted that the Vedas might get extinct, he protected them by compilation and organised them into four parts. He then laid stress on handing over the knowledge from one generation to the other. This was done by a guru to his disciple and by a father to his son.

Besides these, he allotted the various branches of knowledge to several communities. The different branches were Ayurveda (medical science including surgery), Sthapatya Veda (sculpture related to metals, mortars, stones and wood), Gandharva Veda (vocal and instrumental music, dance, art etc.) and Dhanur Veda (skills of military warfare).

Ved Vyas also composed Puranas so that the common people could understand all about the Vedic principles and sincerely follow them in their lives. According to him, religion was not just belief in facts heard or told, but being a part, by realizing truths and developing them and carrying them out in actions.

The Guru-Shishya tradition for protection of Indian culture was established by Ved Vyas. He assigned each of the four Vedas to different disciples who were competent for propagation of knowledge. He gave Rig Veda to Bhaskala, Yajur Veda to Vaishampayana, Sam Veda to Jaimini and Atharva Veda to Aruni. The main goal of this tradition was to establish an ideal social order.

The Gurukul system of education in India thus gradually developed from the Guru-Shishya tradition. The sons of both the kings and the common men came from far off places to stay with the guru in his ‘ashram’. All lived together and the children were treated as part of the guru’s family. They served their guru and respected him as a deity. The disciples learned not only what they were taught but also learnt how to live with humility and dignity. The disciples attained knowledge by observing the life of their guru and experiencing truth.

Ved Vyas shall always be remembered for his sincere efforts of preserving Vedic knowledge. Hence, his birth anniversary is celebrated every year as Guru Purnima.

 

[Published in ‘Ezine Articles’ on 3 June 2013]

THE FALLEN LEAVES

The cold wind knocks,

And the dead leaves fall,

One after another,

And the tree stands revealed.

A song of sadness flows,

Through the solitary branches,

Feelings of loss and destitute,

Alas! No leaves to swing and smile.

The season has arrived again,

And solitude reigns all around,

I feel sad,

When I look at the fallen leaves.

The wide green leaves that,

Once adorned the huge tree,

Are now brown, scattered, lifeless,

As they lie beneath the bare tree.

 

[Published in the website ‘iBuzzle’ on 30 May 2013]

THE POWER OF WORDS

It was morning and the day was twenty-fifth December. The door bell rang. I opened the door and saw an old lady and a young girl smiling at me. “Merry Christmas,” they said and shook my hands. The girl then forwarded me a Christmas card. “We’ll be delighted if you with your family come to our residence in the evening”, the old lady invited me. “Sure”, I assured them.

It was my first visit to the lady’s cottage and I was overwhelmed with their hospitality. After returning home, I took out my diary and penned my feelings through a poem. Next day, I sent the poem for publication to the “feelings” column of an esteemed daily. Few weeks later, it was a pleasant surprise for me when I found my poem titled ‘A lady with a difference,’ published in the newspaper.

One of the lady’s daughters, who stay in a hostel and whom I had not met before, read it in the newspaper too. Noticing the address given below the poem, she came across a doubt that perhaps the ‘lady’ referred to could be her mother. She rang her eldest sister, the one who had visited my home and told her about it. The eldest daughter did not know my good name and in fact, none in their family too, but she was quite sure that I could be the person who wrote the poem. Later, she called me, enquired about it and felt highly delighted when I told her the whole story about the composition.

After a couple of days, the old lady came to my residence again. She presented me a gift and blessed me. Then, with a bright smile, she told me that my poem about her would be scanned, framed and shall be kept as a showpiece in their living room. But this was not the end. About a year later, when the marriage of their eldest daughter was fixed, the lady’s husband and her son came to our house with an invitation card. They invited me and my family to the wedding and mentioned that we were the first family to be invited.

The words of a poem created wonders. It was an amazement to see the power of words. The love and appreciation showered by the family purely touched my heart. The charming memories shall be cherished forever.

 

[Published in ‘Your Space’ of the e-journal ‘Muse India’ on 28 May 2013]

GURU PURNIMA – A DAY OF REVERENCE

Guru Purnima is observed on the full moon day in the month of Ashadh (June-July) every year. The birth anniversary of Maharishi Ved Vyas, the author of Mahabharata, is celebrated as Guru Purnima. The day is also known as Vyas Jayanti.

The word guru refers to perfection. Gu signifies concealed and ru signifies revealed. Thus, a guru is one who removes ignorance and paves way for enlightenment. Earnestly religious people begin their day by chanting a prayer to their guru: Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnuh Gurur Devo Maheswarah, Guruh Sakshat Param Brahmah, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah. In other words, Guru is the creator, preserver and also the destroyer.

India stands with pride for the contributions made by the great gurus in the ancient times. This is a day when we remember all the gurus who have worked for the propagation of knowledge. Ved Vyas composed the great epic Mahabharata which remains immortal till date. Valmiki composed the epic Ramayana which is read worldwide even today. Vasistha was the kulguru of Raghuvansa lineage where Sri Ram was born. Vishwamitra initiated the Gayatri Mantra. Bharat did research in performing arts and made India unique. Dhanvantari is known for his work in medical science. Patanjali made his contribution in the field of yoga. Vatsyayana wrote Kamasutra which serves as a guide for a happy married life. Thus, the gurus offered knowledge for the development of Indian culture.

Ved Vyas also made efforts in preserving the great store of Vedic knowledge. At first, when he doubted that the Vedas might get extinct, he protected them by compilation and organised them into four parts. Secondly, he laid stress on handing over the knowledge from one generation to the other. This was done by a guru to his disciple and by a father to his son. Third, he allotted the various branches of knowledge to several communities. The different branches were Ayurveda (medicine including surgery), Sthapatya Veda (sculpture related to metals, stones, mortars and wood), Gandharva Veda (vocal and instrumental music, dance etc.) and Dhanur Veda (skills of military warfare). Lastly, he composed Puranas so that the commoners could understand all about the Vedic principles and sincerely follow them in their lives. Hence, due to all these work of surviving knowledge and preserving the Vedas, the birth tithi of Ved Vyas is celebrated as Guru Purnima.

The Gurukul system of education came into being from the Guru-Shishya tradition established by Ved Vyas. Sons of both kings and common people lived together with their guru in his ashram. They served their guru and respected him as a deity. The disciples learned not only what he taught but also learnt how to live with humility and dignity. They glorified their guru, respected him and expressed gratitude for being guided in life towards attaining the highest goal.

From time immemorial, the guru was offered an exalted place in India. The kings stood up from their thrones when the kulguru entered the hall. He was always given a seat near the monarch. Our country is gifted with sincere disciples and benevolent gurus. Chandra Gupta Maurya and his guru Chanakya, Maharaj Shivaji and his guru Samartha Ramdas, Swami Vivekananda and his guru Sri Ramakrishna etc. are some of the well-known examples.

Thus, on the day of Guru Purnima, let us pay reverence to our gurus. Our accomplishments would be worthless if we fail to remember them for their dedication towards moulding our lives.

 

[Published in ‘Articles Base’ on 20 May 2013]

CONTINUOUS AND COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION – A BLESSING OR A BURDEN

Education in schools is presently based on the concept known as ‘Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation’. This new scheme of evaluation was implemented with the vision of assessing students throughout the academic session on a broad based process of learning. Being comprehensive, the prospects seem bright as the students are able to recognize their fields of interest and make decisions for the future in regard to pursuing higher studies, choosing their course and shaping the career. The scheme comes as a challenge to those students who excel in academics alone and lag in co-curricular activities.

Continuous and comprehensive evaluation plays an important part in the teaching-learning process and to raise the standard of performance in the schools. The new scheme provides scope for the teachers to develop better teaching strategies and assess the students through multiple techniques of evaluation. The scheme benefits the learners too as they get motivated to improve their studying habits by discarding memorization and laying emphasis on the co-scholastic areas. However, sufficient time would definitely be needed for the scheme to be properly effective in schools throughout the nation.

CCE was introduced in the CBSE Board about a couple of years back. Schools having less infrastructural expansion and resource availability are trying to make adequate changes for reforming the evaluation system. Though the implementation is considered as a blessing in some schools, it is referred to as a burden in some other educational institutions. Apart from classroom teaching, importance is being given to the students for their active participation in the co-curricular activities like aesthetic and performing art, health and physical activities etc. for proper functioning and efficiency of the scheme. Besides, progress of every student in both scholastic and co-scholastic aspects are also recorded.

The objectives of CCE have to be sincerely followed by the stakeholders for the success of the venture. The evaluation process would appear challenging during the initial years but it will truly live up to the expectations as education is not merely textbook learning but development of the entire personality.

In my opinion, continuous and comprehensive evaluation is a positive step in the process of assessment. I like the scheme for several reasons. It helps in bringing out the inner potential of every student besides excellence in academic learning, minimizes stress caused by fear of Board examinations, decreases workload as the syllabus of one term is not repeated in the next term and aids in developing life skills to face situations in future.

The scheme turns out to be a disadvantage to some meritorious students since there is no scope for competition as marks are replaced by grades. Some students may not have a liking as they are constantly being watched of their actions. They do not feel at ease and remain tensed as grades are given for their attitude towards teachers, school-mates, school and environment.

It is possible that CCE may have to cope with some so far unseen challenges in future. It would all depend upon the acceptance of the scheme by the students, parents and teachers. Success would lie entirely upon the contentment of the stakeholders and only then it would stand the test of time.

Above all, feedback by students passing out with flying colours, reactions of the parents whose children achieved the desired goals and success of the teachers in imparting education would define the ground of necessity of the evaluation scheme in the schools in the near future.

 

[Published in ‘Articles Base’ on 7 May 2013]

HAIKU # 2

peak summer

frolic in a pond

rural lads

 

[Published in ‘Your Space’ of the e-journal ‘Muse India’ on 22 March 2013]

SUNRISE

Sightseers swarm

To catch your glimpse,

Your spray of colours

On the lofty peaks.

Your appearance delights

One and all,

To experience rejuvenation…

A new day, a new life.

 

[Published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ on 29 September 2012]

YEARNING

My heart yearns,

To go a long way,

Far across the fields,

Across the echoing hills,

Towards a place enchanting,

Lovely and silent,

Beside a gurgling stream,

Where I can see myself,

My reflection…

And speak out my feelings,

My tormenting desires,

To ease a heavy heart,

In the serene atmosphere.

 

[Published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ on 11 August 2012]

THE DISCOVERY OF OIL

Digboi is situated in the north-eastern region of India and is famous for the discovery of oil during the nineteenth century. It is a small town located in Tinsukia district of Assam and still retains the ambience of the British. The place attracts visitors for its scenic beauty, spacious bungalows, oldest refinery, National Oil Park, War Cemetery, Digboi Club and the eighteen holes Golf Course.

According to records, a group of engineers from Assam Railways and Trading Company were extending the railway track from Dibrugarh to Ledo in 1882. As there was no habitation around and the area was covered by dense jungles, elephants were used for doing the work. Accidently, they noticed that black mud smelling like oil stuck to their feet and the legs of elephants. The startled men started to explore by tracing the trail of footprints left behind and they discovered oil oozing on the surface.

It is said that the name of the place became ‘Digboi’ from the words “dig-boy-dig” which the Englishmen used when the labourers were engaged in the task of digging crude oil. In September 1889, the first oil well, locally known as ‘Well No. 1’ was dug and in 1899, Assam Oil Company was formed. In the year 1901, the first refinery in Asia was set up at Digboi. The oil field produced around seven thousand barrels per day during the period of Second World War.

At present, Digboi is the Headquarter of Assam Oil Division of Indian Oil Corporation Limited. The oil town stands with pride with two features that are unique. First, for having more than a century old oil producing oilfield and second, for having the oldest operating oil refinery. The oilfield now houses an oil museum that displays the history of the town.

 

[Published in the e-magazine ‘Fried Eye’ on 15 April 2012 in Volume III, Issue 7]

BORDOICHILA

Bordoichila rushes

To greet her mother,

Enthusiasm turns wild

And some heavy shower.

 

Proceed of destruction

All throughout the way,

Lightning, thunderstorm,

Trees tremendously sway.

 

Her advent conveys

Onset of spring season

And Assamese worldwide

Enjoy their Bihu celebration.

 

[Published in ‘Bordoichila’ on 14 April 2012. ‘Bordoichila’ is the annual bilingual (Assamese & English) e-magazine, published on the Rongali Bihu day from USA]

Short note: ‘Bordoichila’ refers to a thunderstorm that hits Assam and the neighbouring states (North-East India) during the spring season every year. As the powerful wind lashes, trees get uprooted causing severe damage to houses, light posts etc. According to a common belief, ‘Bordoichila’ is the name of a bride, who longs to meet her mother and with her long hair unfastened, she dashes towards her home for an annual sojourn.

OJAPALI – A PERFORMING ART FORM OF ASSAM

Assamese culture embraces various performing arts and Ojapali is one among them. This is a traditional art form and is considered to be one of the oldest. Though perceived in the districts of Kamrup, Nalbari etc. in Lower Assam, it is but most popular in the district of Darrang. Ojapali showcases a combined performance of narrative singing, dancing gestures and dramatic dialogues.

Generally performed by a group of five men, the name ‘Ojapali’ comes from the words ‘oja’ and ‘pali’. The lead artiste is known as ‘Oja’ and he is accompanied by assistant artistes known as ‘Palis’. The chief among the Palis is the ‘Daina-pali’ or the right-hand aide, who makes the theme further interesting by his humorous dialogues. A small pair of cymbals called the ‘Khutitaal’ is the sole instrument used during the performance.

The performers of Ojapali render two types of songs called ‘malanci geet’ and ‘jagar’. The songs are sung in Sanskrit. They also sing ‘Patsha Geet’, a type of mixed song, which was composed during the Muslim reign. Besides singing, Oja, the chief performer, maintains the rhythm with his feet. Simultaneously, he explains the theme with suitable body movements and facial expressions. The costume worn by the performers are white gowns with long sleeves. They also wear various jewelry and ‘nupur’ on their feet.

Ojapali can be categorized into two major forms – Byah Ojapali and Sukananni Ojapali, based on their style of performance. Byah Ojapali performers are also known as ‘Vyah-gowa’ or singers of Vyasa’s works, as they primarily focus on the great epics. On the other hand, Sukananni Ojapali performers are known as ‘Maroi-gowa’ or singers of Maroi Puja. These performers sing songs of the snake-goddess Manasa Devi, composed by Sukavi Narayana Dev, an ancient Assamese poet.

Ramayana and Mahabharata are the dominant subjects of Byah Ojapali. The stories are sung in pure classical style based on various ragas, with dancing movements made by hands and fingers known as ‘mudras’. To entertain the crowd and make them understand, amusing dialogues with explanations are presented during the performance.

The heart-rending tale of Behula and Lakhindar from the Padma Purana is presented by the performers of Sukananni Ojapali. This art form is usually performed during Manasa Puja, to worship the Deity of serpents. The entertainers start their performance by singing songs in praise of several Gods and Goddesses before going on to the story divided into three parts namely, Deva Khanda, Baniya Khanda and Bhatiyali Khanda.

Another form of Ojapali known as Ramayani Ojapali is gradually declining. In this art form, stories from the Ramayana are presented. According to records in history, Barbyahu and Sarubyahu, two talented artistes of the Koch kingdom, were summoned by the kings time and again to sing numerous mythological verses and subsequently, their style of performance became prevalent among the masses. However, some other reports relate Ojapali to the pre-Vaishnavite period.

 

[Published in the blog ‘North-East India’ on 16 March 2012]

প্ৰতিযোগিতা

ইমান চিন্তা কিহৰ বাবে,

ইমান দুখ কিয় ?

তোমাৰ প্ৰতিযোগিতা কাৰ লগত,

তোমাৰ প্ৰতিদ্বন্দী কোন ?

 

[প্ৰকাশ: ‘মন-সংযোগ’; তাৰিখ: ১০ মাৰ্চ ২০১২]

আপোন

কোন আপোন, কোন পৰ…

যাক আপোন ভাবো,

তেওঁ দেখোন বহু আঁতৰত |

অথচ, যি পৰ,

তেওঁক পাওঁ নিচেই কাষত |

 

[প্ৰকাশ: ‘মন-সংযোগ’;  তাৰিখ: ৯ মাৰ্চ ২০১২]

GET-TOGETHER

Life becomes tedious

By workload and stress,

A daily routine trails

If nothing found fresh.

 

A reunion of course

May change the way,

As ‘har ek friend

Jaroori hota hain’!

 

Families introduced,

Extends friendship,

Experiences shared,

Association grows deep.

 

It’s been a long time

Since we all met,

A get-together once more,

Come, let’s celebrate.

 

[Published in the website of Assam Engineering College 1984-89 Batch on 9 March 2012, on the occasion of their Second Get-together]

LIMERICK VERSE

A simple man, loved countryside life,

“How ’bout city life”, proposed his wife,

Her naggings bitter,

He made a murmur –

“Another issue to start a strife.”

 

[Published in the e-magazine  ‘Frog Croon’  in March 2012 issue]

CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

A huge expanse of land gets submerged when a reservoir is created followed by the construction of a dam. So it is very essential to demarcate the areas rich in biodiversity for protection of the environment. Survival of the exotic and near extinct species which are affected during the construction of a Project should be given due importance for continuous existence of floral diversity.

Hence, a sincere mission was carried out in Umrongso with the purpose of conserving the diverse plant species and flora of the region. A Botanical Garden was set up with the primary aim of conservation, prompt multiplication, rehabilitation of the plant species, extending awareness about the floral heritage and promoting education. Rare and endangered plants were collected from the impact areas and were introduced in a Nursery.

The Garden spreads over a large area and various plant species have been planted for preservation. It has several sections like wild edibles, ferns, medicinal plants, palms and cycads, rare and endangered species, wild plants of horticultural importance, plants of economic importance etc. The garden is enriched by the rare pitcher plant and with different varieties of orchids. To move around and have close access to each plant and every section, a pathway crisscrossing the total length and breadth of the garden has been laid out. A small lake in the centre with a bridge over it adds to the beauty of the garden. Blooming water lilies and ducks wading in the water present a beautiful sight to the visitors. Rare birds are noticed during the migratory season. For the pollination of plants, beehives are maintained.

The Nursery has a green shade net-house for hatching various plant species. Vegetative propagation of plants is carried out throughout the year and later the seedlings are transferred to small poly-bags. Different species of trees like Neem (medicinal plant), Silikha, Krishnachura, Kanchan, Chandan, Sonaru, Teak (Sagoon) etc. are available in the Nursery and plantation labels are marked on them. The plant saplings are then distributed around for planting them in different areas as massive plantation is a major step towards protection of the environment.

 

[Published in ‘Articles Base’ on 14 February 2012]

BIR CHILARAI – THE GREAT GENERAL OF ASSAM

Bir Chilarai (1510 – 1571 AD) was a great general who belonged to the Koch royal dynasty of Assam. By his valour, he played a significant role in expanding the empire of his elder brother, Maharaja Nara Narayan.

The Koch dynasty set up their kingdom in the western part of Assam after the fall of Khen dynasty in 1498 AD and Chandan was crowned king of Kamata kingdom. Maharaja Chandan ruled for thirteen years but as he had no sons, after his death Viswa Singha was enthroned.

The reign of Maharaja Viswa Singha marked a glorious episode in the history of Assam as he was the founder ruler of the Koch royal dynasty, who newly established his kingdom in 1515 AD. He had many sons but only four of them were remarkable. Shukladhwaj, later known as Bir Chilarai, was his third son.

Born on a full moon day, Shukladhwaj had a fair complexion and hence he was called by that name. He along with his brothers learnt warfare and they all mastered the art very well. For achieving higher education, he and his elder brother Malla Dev went to Varanasi. They learnt various subjects and acquired knowledge in Sanskrit, Grammar, Literature, Law, Astrology etc.

After the death of Maharaja Viswa Singha, his son Malla Dev ascended the throne. He was better known as Maharaja Nara Narayan. Shukladhwaj was appointed army commander and he assisted his brother in extending the kingdom. A brave warrior and an exceptional general, Shukladhwaj was extremely quick in his actions. He came to be known as ‘Chilarai’ as he was swift like the bird chila or the kite in capturing the foes.

In 1562 AD, an intense battle took place when Nara Narayan crossed River Brahmaputra and attacked the Ahom kingdom. Chilarai commanded his soldiers to fight both on land and through water. The defeated king finally fled with his army and Nara Narayan achieved victory. Later, a truce followed between them.

In 1568 AD, another battle ensued when Nara Narayan attacked Gour, ruled by Soleman Karnani. But this time he had to face defeat as Kalapahar, the army commander captured Chilarai. Kalapahar with his soldiers then destroyed many temples including Kamakhya while he proceeded towards Tezpur.

Nara Narayan defeated the king of Cachar and brought his kingdom under his rule. The king of Manipur surrendered as he decided not to combat with such a powerful ruler. Chilarai then attacked the states of Jayantia, Tripura and Sylhet. He defeated the kings in the battles and killed them. Observing the condition of the neighbouring states, the rulers of Khairam and Dimoriya submitted their petty states. Thus with the help of Chilarai’s heroism, Maharaja Nara Narayan extended his vast empire and earned revenues from several rulers.

Nara Narayan attacked Gour for the second time when Akbar, the Mughal emperor sought help from him. They had an alliance with Sisya Singha Raikat and Debraj, the king of Bhutan while invading Gour. Chilarai captured Ghoraghat and seized the whole area of Gour. After defeating King Gourpasha, the kingdom was shared between Nara Narayan and Akbar.

During the second invasion of Gour, Chilarai breathed his last on the banks of River Ganga as he suffered from pox. After his death, battles subsided. It was the courageous deeds of Chilarai that led the Koch kingdom reach the zenith.

Later, Nara Narayan divided his kingdom into two parts namely, Koch Bihar and Koch Hajo. He kept Koch Bihar, the western part under his authority while Koch Hajo, the eastern part was given to Raghudev, the son of chilarai.

The birth anniversary of the great hero is celebrated every year as Bir Chilarai Divas. From the year 2005, the government of Assam has been conferring Bir Chilarai Award, the highest honour for bravery to individuals. The gallant accomplishments of Bir Chilarai in the regime of Maharaja Nara Narayan shall be remembered forever.

 

[Published in the blog ‘North-East India’ on 9 February 2012]

A GIFT

(Dedicated to my mother)

 

You smiled at me,

Even though you were in pain,

You sacrificed for me,

Never thought about your gain.

 

You brought me up,

With lots of love and affection,

You stood by me,

Giving me utmost protection.

 

You inculcated in me,

Good habits and values,

You patiently taught me,

Prepare savoury menus.

 

You still care for me,

Although I stay remote,

You are divine to me,

My precious gift from God.

 

[Published in ‘The Assam Tribune’ on 4 February 2012]

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

O mother, let me acknowledge

your selfless toil and pristine love

that you’ve always showered on me

and guided me to the right path in life.

Even today, when I’m beside you,

your face beams with sheer delight

and your tender heart can understand

all my emotions even though it’s a trace.

Sacrifice, patience, trust…

ever shine through your actions,

wisdom, affection, inspiration…

ever reflect in your words.

You led me by example and

instilled courage to face challenges,

your vision – noble and lofty,

Oh! I simply admire your simplicity.

Inculcating values and self-reliance,

you taught me how to be independent,

I’m always proud of you, dear mother,

O God, take care of her forever.

 

[Published in ‘Your Space’ of the e-journal ‘Muse India’ on 2 February 2012]

PANORAMA NORTH-EAST

Behold the beauty of Brahmaputra, (Assam)

Travel to Tawang for tranquility, (Arunachal)

Look at Loktak Lake the lifeline, (Manipur)

Cherish the charm of Cherrapunjee. (Meghalaya)

Cemetery at capital conveys courage, (Nagaland)

Balance on bamboos bring beams, (Mizoram)

Palaces of princes provide pleasure, (Tripura)

Rafting on river renders relish. (Sikkim)

 

 [Published in the e-magazine ‘Fried Eye’ on 1 February 2012 in Volume III, Issue 3]

 

BIR TIKENDRAJIT SINGH – THE TRUE PATRIOT OF MANIPUR

Bir Tikendrajit Singh was a great patriot and a prince from Manipur, a state in the north-eastern region of India, who laid down his life during India’s struggle for Independence. He was called the ‘Lion of Manipur’ as he fearlessly fought against the British.

Tikendrajit Singh was born as the fourth son to Maharaja Chandrakriti Singh and Chongtham Chanu Kouseswari Devi on December 29, 1856. Koireng, as he was popularly known as, loved freedom since his childhood. After the Maharaja’s death on May 20, 1886, the eldest son of the royal family Surchandra Singh ascended the throne of Manipur. The princes were appointed as heir-apparent, army general and police chief. Later on, Tikendrajit became ‘Senapati’, the general of Manipur army.

Tension began to develop gradually as some misunderstandings crept up among the princes and finally the royal family split up into two factions, one led by Tikendrajit himself and the other by Pakasana. The king remained unaware about the situation and chaos increased to a great extent. According to Tikendrajit, the king was in favour of Pakasana. He disliked the British attitude towards the local rulers as they expanded their empire by usurpation. So he thought of a plan and made efforts to protect the sovereignty of the state. He was also aware of the fact that the Britishers waited for an opportunity to change Manipur to a colony of their own.

On September 22, 1890, Tikendrajit along with two other princes Angousan and Jilangamba, revolted against Surchandra Singh and overthrew him. The monarch fled from the palace and took refuge in the residence of the British. Then Kullachandra ascended the throne and Tikendrajit became ‘Jubaraj’, the heir-apparent. This incident is known as ‘Palace Revolt’ in Manipur history.

Later, the former ruler Surchandra Singh, left for Calcutta but informed Tikendrajit that he was on his way to Vrindavan. After reaching Calcutta, he sent a petition to the Government for restoring his throne in Manipur. The matter was taken into consideration and British Viceroy of India Lord Landsdowne then took a decision to retain Kullachandra as the king but remove Tikendrajit from Manipur.

On March 22, 1891, Chief Commissioner J.W. Quinton reached Manipur with a troop of soldiers. A secret plan was arranged to arrest Tikendrajit but the secret got leaked and the plan failed. Grimwood, the political agent then asked the king to hand over Tikendrajit to him. King Kullachandra refused and so the British used force to arrest Tikendrajit.

Two days later, in the evening of March 24, the British troops attacked the residence of Tikendrajit in Palace Compound and killed many civilians, women and children who were watching a programme on Ras Lila. The Manipuri soldiers fought back and succeeded in their offensive struggle. Five British officers, Quinton and Grimwood among them, had to flee to seek shelter. Feelings of revenge arose among the people whose family and relatives had been killed and thus they executed all the five officers.

On March 31, the Anglo-Manipur War took place as the British Government announced war on Manipur. Three columns of the army, namely, Kohima commanded by Major General H. Collet, Silchar commanded by Colonel R. H. F. Rennick and Tamu commanded by Brigadier General T. Graham were sent to Manipur while the Manipuri army was led by Tikendrajit himself.

On April 27, the Kangla Palace was taken over by the British and Major Maxwell became the chief political agent. Later, Churachand Singh, a minor was given the throne as Manipur turned into a princely state, while Tikendrajit along with some other leaders went underground.

The British Indian Government constituted a special court formed under Lieutenant Colonel John Mitchell for the trials and the court commenced on May 11. Tikendrajit, Kullachandra and Thangal General were found guilty and were sentenced to death. Some efforts were made by Queen Victoria to save Tikendrajit but remained unsuccessful as the Governor General confirmed the death sentences of Tikendrajit and Thangal General. A protest movement was also launched but failed. Kullachandra, however, made an appeal to the Government and his sentence was thus converted into transportation of life.

On August 13, 1891, the order was announced and at 5 pm in the evening, both Tikendrajit and Thangal General were hanged before the general public at Polo Ground in Imphal. This place was later named as Bir Tikendrajit Park and to remember his heroic deeds, Manipur celebrates the day as Patriot’s Day.

Bir Tikendrajit was a true nationalist and he will always be remembered for his courage and patriotism.

 

[Published in the blog ‘North-East India’ on 12 January 2012]