Binita Barua with her book Akashi Ganga Bisora Nai

DR. RATAN BHATTACHARJEE                    

If Assam is famous for tea drinking, an Assamese writer like Binita Borua may become famous for making her fictional debut on a tea estate.  Singing is her lifetime passion with thousands of followers but in this debut novel, Binita Barua emerges as a writer with magnetic ink.  In her narrative Goalpara’s life and society centered on a tea estate become vivid in the incidents and delineation of characters through matching dialogue all through.

Being a new writer, it is still amazing that she weaves magic to lead the reader from the first page to the last by her wonderful penning down a realistic story in the most romantic way. It is a desire of the moth for the star, a devotion to something afar as the last epilogue poem at the end of the novel suggests.

The tragic tale of un-attainment is a sad tale that tells of the saddest thoughts however with the positive motivational message that all is not finally lost in our life after all the tribulations and sufferings.

The three characters Anurag, Akash and Torali are more important all through the novel but even through other characters such as Menaka and Nirupama readers can finally treasure all the pensive moments in their ever cherished urn of expectations.

Anurag loved poetry but never wrote one himself ever. His poetic mind is explored in the novel with a profound psychological edge while Tarali wrote poetry. One thing is to be remembered here that Binita Barua herself began her writing career as a poet, though no book of her has yet been published. She expresses her poetic mind through the characters in the novel.

Depression, suicide attempts and other psychological trauma are so faithfully depicted after the accident through the female protagonist. . The dreams getting defeated by ill strokes of faith and the noisy picture of the asylum-like psychiatric centre so sincerely described in the novel will surely add to the depth of the novel and skillful portrayal of life in reality points to a new angle for an Assamese novel written by a new writer.

Unforgettable is the loving care of the doctor couple in the Tezpur hospital which now we in our own lives may find in the Covid situation where doctors are frontline social activists. Affection and care are a part of medical treatment.

 Binita writes in graceful Assamese and it makes a happy reading of an unhappy tale. Life has a few too few smiles but tears are more to focus on a bleak philosophy of life though the ending has a silver lining in the gradual recovery of Tarali the female protagonist whose life is meant for suffering. 

The star and pole star image and the long gaze at the blue but mysterious firmament provided a romantic hue to the narrative revealing the mind of the novelist herself. Waiting, the ever-popular theme in love, is centrally focused in the storyline even by the pseudonym Pratiksha that Tarali used during her treatment in the Tezpur hospital.

Torali is a poetic character and she herself can write poems. In the depiction of her character, we may discover the alter ego of the writer herself who also loves poetry deeply. The distancing is so nicely maintained by making Tarali a poetic girl who can instantly write poems through her struggling life with Akash and the death of her mother-in-law dampened the zest for her life.

One poem Upalabdhi or Realization that she writes is harping on the main theme of the novel. The Sophoclean Pathei Mathos concept of ‘wisdom through Suffering ‘is suggested in this poem “jibon manei tu mrityu loi opekkha kara ek tibro ghrina” (Life means waiting for death with an intense aversion). Life is itself an accident and the misfortune caused by the accident to Torali’s car and her mental collapse, particularly after the abortion endorses the tragedy in life more poignantly.

Another story of frustration that runs side by side as a slice of life related to Dr. Radhamohan Bhagawati of Tezpur Medical College who did not have any issue and the loneliness of the couple is suggested as they could not take test-tube baby to remove their loneliness of the old age.

There is a suspense which is unfolded only at the end when Torali known by her pseudonym Pratikhsha was recovering in the affectionate care and treatment of Dr. Bhagawati and his wife. The life of Harikai was unfolded to Anurag when he went along with Simnata along with all the interactions that occurred between Simanta and Akash or Silent love between Anurag and Monalisa and mingling of facts and fiction. The novelist brings into the story the long discussion of marriage in the life of an Assamese girl.

Born in 1985 in the Sarabari village of Mangaldoi in the district of Darrang the novelist grew up in the rural ambiance and felt keen love for nature and also the urban society around her. But she comes out of the bookish world to observe the real one Many writers focus on the life of Goalpara but in this novel life of the people of Simlitola Kahibari known as Rangjuli Tea estate on Southern side of undivided  Goalpara is particularly depicted, reminding us of the two inches ivory of Jane Austen’s novel.

The life in the tea estate is graphically presented by Binita in this novel as she knows this world. The novel appears to be skillful writing from an experienced novelist. Her inspiration from Grantha Subash a Facebook group or her teachers in the university resulted in a golden creation like this novel which made her ever grateful to them and even now she is writing in serial ‘Moro eta Mon Ase’ (Me too have a Mind’) Binita is a writer with promise and this first novel will create a long spell on the readers especially for the magical web of the storyline and the suspense maintained till the end of the story with some twist like the O.Henry fiction.

The lockdown period was used for creative writing by many writers and those who never got much patronage from the established newspapers or magazines are inspired by the social media groups. This paves the way for many new writers to emerge. Writers like Binita started their journey and even a thousand-mile journey too begins with one single step.

Dylan Thomas once wrote:’ The world is not the same once a good poem is added to it.” We may conclude here by saying, Assamese literature is not the same once a good novel is added to it”. We may hope this for Binita’s Akaxhi Ganga Bisora Nai .

Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee is a poet and columnist. He can be reached at profratanbhattacharjee@gmail.com

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