This book, a compilation of Bodo short stories by eleven renowned Bodo fiction writers, represents the trends in modern Bodo fiction, particularly during the last few decades. The stories anthologised here are widely acclaimed by Bodo readers and critics alike. They reflect the day-to-day struggles of the Bodos, basically a simple and ingenuous tribe.
Joykanta Sarma (b. 1943), a well-known trans1atoi journalist and reviewer, is presently the Deputy Editor Dainik Asam, a premier Assamese daily. He has published more than 10 translations in Assamese including Alexander Pushkin and Solzhenitsyn besides Chinese short stories. Sri Sarma has also written a politico-historical book entitled Gandhi Para Sastrilai and edited three books on eminent personalities of Assam.
Bodos or the Bodo-Kacharis who are racially of the Mongoloid stock of the Indo-Mongoloids or Indo Tibetans, spread over the whole of the Brahmaputra valley (of Assam), North Bengal and parts of Bangladesh. This ethnic group is now one of the important tribes of the North East Region of India with their distinctive cultural and linguistic features. Over the years, there have been cultural assimilations and fusions) yet the Bodos are basically stuck to their own identity. Histories have recorded that at one time Bodos also ruled Cooch Behar, Bijni, Darrang and Beltola. A section of the hill Bodos (Dimasa) ruled from the capitals at Dimapur, Maibong and Khaspur.
Though the Bodo language shares some common features in vocabulary phonolog morphology and syntax with other sister languages of the Bodo group of tribes like Akas, Miris, Daflash, Mishimis, Rabhas, Kacharis, Garos, Mechs, it has assimilated much with Assamese. Even there are similarities between the Bodo language and Assamese in respect of grammar and Assamese is still the lingua franca. Unfortunately, the Bodo language had to remain confined to its spoken form till the other day. Thanks to the ceaseless efforts of the newly awakened Bodo leaders, the Bodo language could be the medium of instruction in the Bodo-dominated areas of Assam in 1963. It has now been the recognised associate language and the medium of instruction up to the secondary level. The Gauhati University, of late, has introduced the Bodo language as a subject in the post graduate course.
In fact, written Bodo literature is only a recent phenomenon, although its folk segment is very rich. The Christian missionaries were the first to publish books on religion, tales, rhymes and songs. These are, however, not regarded as proper Bodo literately productions by the present Bodo scholars who feel that with the publication of Birbar, the mouthpiece of Bodo Chatra Sanmilani in 1924 under the editorship of late Satish Chandra Basumatari, the Bodo literature proper came into being. Another Bodo journal named Alonbar was launched in 1936 under the editorship of late Pramod Chandra Brahma. These journals were the breeding grounds for young Bodo writers who were in fact the harbingers of the first renaissance of Bodo literature. Ishan Mushahary was the first recognised Bodo story teller whose story ‘Abari’ was published in the journal Hatharkhila edited by Pramod Chandra Brahma in 1930.
In 1952, the Bodo Sahitya Sabha was set up and its house journal Bodo was published under the editorship of Satish Chandra Basumatari in 1955. This journal had a catalystic role in moulding new consciousness among the new generation of Bodo writers. Meanwhile, there had been a rising trend of political movements too among the Bodos in Assam for establishing their all-round identity The 1974 movement for Roman script for Bodo language added a new dimension to the world of Bodo literature. Magazines after magazines were brought out and a batch of promising writers, particularly of fiction made their mark.
Among the pre-1955 short-story writers, notable were Siken Brahma, Ajit Narayan Brahma, Rathi Kanta Brahma, Jagadish Brahma, Manoranjan Lahari etc. and their stories were published in different journals such as Akhaphaur, Alan, Mushri Arau Sanashree, Nayak etc. In the subsequent period, the journal Bairathi edited by late Samar Brahma Chowdhury and the Kokrajhar College magazine too immemsely helped in creating significant fiction writers h as Nil Kamal Brahma, Hareswar Basumatari, Pramila Brahma, etc.
The number of printed anthologies of Bodo short swries is, however, very small. Phaimal Mijink by Chittaranjan Mushahary is the first published Bodo short szor anthologY (1970). Thalim is his second anthology in this genre. Thereafter, among the notable anthologies by different authors are Nil Kamal Brahma’s Haijra Gudumi Mai (1972), Silingkhar (1984), Sirinay Mandir (1985), Sakhandra, Manoranjan Lahari’s Solo Bidang (1978), Saloni Solo(1985), Dharanidhar Wan’s Gandu Singni Lajjam Gangse (1979), Han Bhusan Brahrna’s Srimati Durlai (1981), Satish Basumatari and Narendralal Boro’s (jointly edited) Dukhuni Dengkho (1980), Holowa Dal Ajaula Afad’s Ajciulci (1980), Rohini Kumar Brahma’s Mininglar
(1981), Satish Ramsiyari’s Barkhau Manay Bibar (edited
1985), Nandeswar Daimari’s Thangnayani Dooha (1985),
Baneswar Basurnatari’s Annay (1985), Katindra Swargiyari’s Rajalarna (1986-edited), Bireswar Basumatari’s Jugami
(three volumes), Mohan Chandra Boro’s Soo Bidoi (1987)
and Madhu Boro’s Salo Saulay (1990).
In sum, during the modern Bodo literature period, short-story writers like Manoranjan Lahiri, Jagadish Brahma, Nil Kamal Brahma, Haribhusan Brahma, Dani Ram Basumatari, Benoy Kumar Brahma, Heramba Narjari, Ranj it Bargayari, Bandhuram Basumatari, Hareswar Basumatari, Pratirna Rani Basumatari, Siken Brahma, Pramila Brahma, etc. consolidated the foundation of Bodo short stories. Among the later group of fiction writers, prominent are Janil Kumar Brahma, Mangal Singh Hajowari, Dharanidhar Wan, Baneswar Basumatari, Katindra Swargiyari, etc. Even then, against the backdrop of the rising standard of short stories in other regional languages, Bodo fiction is only at a developing stage with young writers making endeavours for improved style and content. Bodo language is still not recognised under the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution and the Bodo society is, by and large, socio-economically backward with widespread illiteracy and superstition. These pictures are almost vividly depicted in the Bodo stories, particularly by the young writers who do not want to spare the indifferent intelligentia.
The stories incorporated in the book are widely acclaimed by Bodo readers and critics alike. Abari the first printed Bodo short story by Ishan Mushahary is also included. These stories are considered representative pieces of modern Bodo fiction. Younger writers are deliberately left out as they are yet to take a definite shape.
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