FIFTH WALL - Some nostalgia and a little fun : Uddipana Goswami

Uddipana Goswami, Literary Editor
There are many who are saying enough of violence, insurgency, blood and gore already. I agree. There should be an end to conflicts, we should find peace. But in a land where the ethnic cauldron boileth over, where vendors of peace shake hands with mercenaries of war, where every aspect of our life is somehow touched by the spectres of bloodshed and brutality, we are often forced to dwell on the issue. But as we start a new year, we can perhaps laugh off some of these concerns. For a while at least, maybe we can concentrate on the pure delight literature sometimes gives us. This issue therefore is dedicated to exploring the humour literature of Assam.

Assam’s tradition of humour in writing is as old as written literature. Occasional hilarity and a few witticisms were to be found even in the 14th and 15th century Vaishanvite literature. Oral tradition and folk literature however, has always abounded with humour. We have grown up listening to many ribald tales (upakatha) from the Ramayan and Mahabharat which are perhaps not found anywhere in a written form till today. While my father was researching on the Ojapali art form of Assam, he also recounted many instances of comic interludes in the performances and witty repartees between the performers. At a time when there seems to be very little to delight in, I think we need to sometimes go back to these oral traditions that have survived since yore and forget the turmoil of contemporary times.

This issue brings you an overview of humorous literature in Assam and traces its development in the modern period. One of the foremost humorists of Assam, Bhadra Bora, takes you on this journey. And in an effort to rediscover some unadulterated humour in our day-to-day lives, Gitanjali Das revisits Bhabendra Nath Saikia’s classic, Mohadustor Dustobuddhi.

From this issue we are starting a new section, ‘Other Words’, which will place fresh perspectives before the readers of NELit review through essays, reviews, thought pieces and what have you. Not necessarily connected with the dominant theme of the particular issue, ‘Other Words’ will also occasionally take our readers beyond Northeast literature. This week, on the 103rd birth anniversary of Bengali author, Ashapurna Debi, Aruni Kashyap revisits her oeuvre and speaks of the extraordinary power of her pen.

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