My Dhruba



A few days ago, well known litterateur Dhrubajyoti Borah took over the reigns of the Axom Sahitya Sabha, as President. As the latest appointee to this highly prestigious post, his speech dwelt on language, its importance, its role. Congratulations, Dhruba Borah. You will surely add lustre to this post.



And then there is this other Dhruba. My Dhruba, if I may say so, with apologies to his mother. Dhrubajyoti Saikia, a young boy who had to leave his studies to take up a job as a security guard in this city. He stands at the gates of the apartment complex next door. I always get a smile from him when I pass him. He is of course very young (20, I found out), but even so, the expression on his face is unusual. There is hope, optimism, eagerness in his body language, his face.


It’s not just me. He has a smile and a wave for everyone. He is friendly, and, unusually for a boy fresh from the village, is not awed by the swankiness of the cars he waves in and out of the gate, or the people in them. He has a confidence that is as endearing as it is uncommon.

The other day, he came up to me, and revealed a bit more about himself.  With much hesitation and nervousness, he asked for writing tips. Turns out, he writes lyrics! He showed me some …quite promising, and I’m not being patronizing here. He really does have a fine sensibility, and sensitivity to issues, and a grasp of language. He comes from a family of farmers. After his Higher Secondary, he couldn’t pursue his studies any more. I didn’t like to ask why. But he sits at the gate, and during slack hours, he writes! He is especially prolific during his night duty hours, for he can write undisturbed, he said.


This moved me greatly. 


Another day, he asked me if it was ok to put in references to extremist groups in his lyrics. I gave him what little advice I could.


Today, he came up and asked for a bit of my time. I invited him in, and sat him down on the chair, while I sat on a cane murha (a kind of tool) near him. He took out a paper, and, diffidently, he read out his latest lyric to me. He has also composed a tune for it. I gasped at his talent, was humbled. It was a patriotic song. Surrounded by the peace of late winter flowers, he recited the lyric, speaking of terror and killings, of kidnappings and extortions, of corruption and vandalism, of floods and erosions that take away homes and livelihoods. He is from Dhemaji, so, naturally, it contained references to the killing of children by extremists, also. Later, he sang it for me.


As I was listening, moved, to him, I sent up a silent prayer. May this boy become, down the years, a famed litterateur, just like the other Dhruba, and also my other good friend, Dhruba Hazarika. May this young Dhruba’s fame spread far and wide. May he too, some decades down the line, head the Sahitya Sabha, just like his namesake.


Ours is a country where a tea boy can become Prime Minister. I am hoping that I shall be alive to see this boy become another Tafazzul Ali, or Hiru Bhattacharya …Or, why not, another Gulzar. 



Mitra Phukan

Mitra Phukan

Mitra Phukan is a writer, translator, columnist and classical vocalist who lives and works in Guwahati, Assam. Her published literary works include four children's books, a biography, and a novel, "The Collector's Wife". Her most recent work is another novel, "A Monsoon of Music" published by Penguin-Zubaan in September 2011. Besides, her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Her works have been translated into several languages. She is the Northeast correspondent of the Chennai-based journal of the performing arts, "Shruti" and a member of the North East Writers' Forum.