Smriti Kumar Sinha has created one of the strongest women characters in Indian literature inSeducing the Rain God, comments Littérateur de renommée,Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee
Prolific writer Amarjyoti Choudhury and Littérateur de renommée Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee were on the same wavelength in so far as their opinion on Seducing the Rain God is concerned.
Choudhury, the Pro VC of Tezpur University, as the chief guest at the function released the collection of short stories authored by Smriti Kumar Sinha in Bishnupriya Manipuri and translated into English by journalist Ramlal Sinha in the pleasing July 5, 2015 afternoon weather that was quite in sync with the scenic beauty of the Brahmaputra that kept breaking wavelets on the bank where Vivekananda Kendra stands. The auditorium was full to its capacity with litterateur and literati. The proceeding of the evening was conducted by Ms Ilina Sinha, daughter of the author.
Audience burst into laughter when pleasant weather following a spell of rain after a week-long heat wave made Chaudhury say ‘the Rain God has been really seduced’. Nicknamed Metaphor Che, as author Smriti Sinha is fondly called by the student community in Tezpur University, Choudhury said that Sinha not only studies Indian literature but the wider spectrum of Indian culture and the Vedas. ‘The Reverse Veda is an extreme example of subaltern literature… in this story he depicts the events relating to Indra as to how they would look like when viewed from the point of view of the exploited ones’, he said.
On the title story, Seducing the Rain God, Choudhury said, the author is in his place. ‘If García Márquez has created Macondo, R. K Narayan has created Malguri, Smriti Kumar Sinha has created, rather recreated, Khumalmati. The stories seem to be very simple, but in essence, they are very complicated – multi-layered,’ he said and added, ‘The author dipped into the fathom of society to collect elements and showcased them in a structured way that gave the stories a universal aura.’ Choudhury was all praise for Smriti Kumar Sinha’s unique style of story-telling which, he said, ‘is not found in our literature. His is a strong voice from the Northeast.’
Sabi, the main character in the title story ‘Seducing the Rain God’, is one of the strongest women characters in Indian literature created by Smriti Kumar Sinha,’ so said Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee who happened to read the book both as manuscript and in printed form before hitting the selves. He was the special guest at the function. He was open in his appraisal of translator Ramlal Sinha’s performance as a translator when he said ‘he (Ramlal Sinha) did fairly good in communicating the original text in Bishnupriya Manipuri into English.’
Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee was the former editor of Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi’s bimonthly journal. Earlier, he was the director of National Book Trust, New Delhi. He was also a panellist in many national and international bodies.
Author Smriti Kumar Sinha said while introducing the book: ‘Indian literature, I believe is not the sum total of the works published in Assamese, Bengali, English, Hindi and other major languages. This partial sum provides only a partial view of the vast literature and culture of India with more than one thousand six hundred languages and dialects. Literary works in endangered dialects and minor languages of India are also equally important components of Indian literature. Publication and publicity of quality works in such minor and endangered languages will be true and ultimate recognition of creative writing from all corners of India.’
Translator Ramlal Sinha spoke on the kind of hurdles he had to face in this translation work, a field quite new to him.
From the publisher’s end Niyogi Books managing director Mr Bikash De Niyogi, who welcomed the audience at the very beginning of the event, declared the end of the function with votes of thanks. He, however, stayed away from saying good bye as he kept his for meeting the august audience in the future with more such releases of books.
Seducing the Rain God is a collection of fourteen translated short stories, originally written in Bishnupriya Manipuri. Bishnupriya Manipuri, a language almost on the verge of extinction in the 19th century, with the revitalisation initiatives, has emerged as a strong voice from northeastern India.
The storiesin Seducing the Rain God are rich in structure, novel in theme and innovative in terms of technique and expression, weaving a tapestry of secret rituals, ancient customs and simple lives. The translation aims to present the vital essence of these stories, the unique culture of North-East India and the subtle nuances of the Bishnupriya Manipuri language.
Bishnupriya Manipuri is an Indo-Aryan language. The speakers of this language, estimated to be half a million, mainly reside in some of the north-eastern states of India (Assam, Tripura and Manipur), Bangladesh and Myanmar. Having migrated to Assam, Tripura and Bangladesh in different phases due to Burmese invasions and political unrest, the community had to struggle for ethnic identity for more than eight decades.
The author Smriti Kumar Sinha, a leading short story writer in Bishnupriya Manipuri – a little-known indigenous language of the North-East has published three collections, and has been working for the development, recognition and publicity of minor and endangered languages of the region over the last three decades. Sinha is Professor of Computer Science,Tezpur University, Assam.
Ramlal Sinha, who has translated the book, is a journalist from the North-East, former Associate Editor with the Seven Sisters Post and The Sentinel, Assam. He began his career with a four-year stint with The Newsfront, Guwahati and is devoted to presenting the best creative works in Bishnupriya Manipuri.
(Niyogi Books, with over 300 titles to their credit, and recognised for its high-quality illustrated books on a range of subjects, from art and photography to heritage, culture and history, has bagged many awards at national and international levels in book printing. These include the “Best Tea Book” by Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2014, “Best Art Book 2014” and the first prize in General Book Category (English) for their publication Megha Meets Vishwakarma:The Story of Indian Crafts by the Federation of Indian Publishers. Niyogi Books has been at the forefront in recognising, encouraging and promoting both new talent and eminent writers in the field of book writing.)