An Introduction of Dr. Apurba kumar saikia for his interview taken by subhajit bhadra. Apurba kumar saikia happens to be a doctor by profession and a writer by passion. Over the years he has created a magical world of words for himself and his readers. His short stories demand alert intellectual participation on part of serious readers and they deserve to be read and reread as the nuances are very subtle. He is an erudite writer and the gems of his erudition are scattered throughout the narrative. Occasionally he successfully employs the technique of magic realism, a technique gifted to the rest of the world of literature by Latin American authors. His stories evoke compassion and sensitivity. For his superb collection of short stories titled bengsata he has been given the prestigious sahitya akademi award. His most recent collection of short stories are titled chotor urohi and monor dactor in assamese.
Q1. Let us begin with the beginning. How and when were you drawn towards the world of words.
Ans. My literary journey started long back in my early school days. Ours was a lower middle class family and I was born and brought up in a village just at the outskirt of Nagaon town. My father happened to be a book worm being awarded for his reading habit by the District library authority a number of times . So , books were introduced to my life even before I could read or write a line in words. When I was in Nowgong Government Boys’ Higher Secondary School in sixth standard I penned down the first short story of my life ‘ Jivanar Mamata Kot’ without much effort , rather instinctually . Short story as a genre was never alien to me as by then I had developed a passion for short stories after consuming voraciously almost all the short stories of Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia , Mahim Borah and Saurabh Chaliha. So , unlike most of the writers who started their career by penning down a poem, I started with fiction . Short story has been my first love and it’s a sustained and successful love story till date and ’till death do us part’ !
Q2. You are professionally an eye specialist. But you seem to be a subtle observer of human behavior of different types which is revealed in your fictional creation. Please share your point of view regarding this.
Ans. Eyes are said to be , though in a lighter vein , the windows of brain through which we can peep into that complex structure controlling all the affairs of the body. Having been trained as an Eye Specialist I have the privilege and ability of seeing some minuscule part of brain through the eyes. In addition to that I have a passion for knowing more and more about what we call an ill located ‘human mind’ , its apparently bizarre activities beyond reasonings and psychosomatic or somatopsychic reflections in a body . It is so vast, yet so interesting ! The other day a young married lady with a long line of vermilion on her forehead came to my chamber and incidentally soiled the head-rest of my Slit Lamp instrument with vermilion. The next patient happened to be a Mohammedan lady , Julekha, whose forehead caught some sprinkles of vermilion while in the process of eye examination. I asked her to wipe away her forehead with a swab of cotton but she simply declined ! But why ? The whole day that incident kept on coming to my mind with so many questions and probable answers with permutations and combinations . Finally the whole incident ended up taking the shape of a pleasant love story ‘ Sendoor’ and thus I got back my tranquility of my mind , temporarily though !
Q3. Why have you singled out the genre of short story. Don’t you feel the urge to write novels .
Ans. The reason for not writing a novel may be that I am as lazy as a sloth or may be I take pleasure only in writing short stories. I have a begful of plots ,subplots and ideas that could normally be synthesised into a novel with some amount of effort but it simply never happens. I have three novels in various stages of growth: germination , vegetation and budding but no further progression to the flowering and ripening stages . Hopefully I would complete at least one in this year itself.
Q4. In your effortlessly nuanced stories there is a blending of jocularity and seriousness. How would you address this dichotomy.
Ans. The juxtaposition of jocularity and seriousness is what a human life is all about. While treating a serious situation of the protagonist of my short story I use jocularity as a comic relief sometimes . Breaking away the established norms I use ‘tragic relief’ too in an overbearing comic situation . I don’t think the emotions of a person in a particular time and place is singular and centrifugal but it is multilayered and multidirectional. So my characters behave chaotically and unreasonably sometimes but within some larger parameters of normalcy .They are portrayed as the fence sitters of two worlds keeping in view the complex nature of human behaviour in some trying moments.
Q5. In your stories you consistently use mild satire and paradox. Is it something related to your aesthetic concern.
Ans. Satire and paradoxes are essential ingredients of my short story. It is ingrained and often unintentional . I have my dream group of target readers in my mind and while writing a short story they dare to dictate my writings occasionally. Here I don’t subscribe to Jorge Luis Borges’s view who believed in writing short stories for his own self without any concern for the readers .
Apart from having all the qualities of a short story a story must be readable first . Otherwise it would fail as a vehicle of literary bliss from the writer to the universal reader . I try my best to make a short story an entertaining reading experience. Other heavier literary things come later .
Q6. Your stories have fetched you the prestigious sahitya akademi award. What are your future plans as a practitioner of this genre in the context of contemporary assamese literature.
Ans. Dealing with two vast worlds of Medicine and Literature has never been an easy task for me. Literature has often proved to be an expensive passion for me . Having been bestowed with the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award my responsibility as a writer has increased many fold and it is not an easy job to live up to the expectation of the well read and much informed readers . Fame is like riding on a untamed tiger and you are bound only to venture ahead . As I told you earlier I am not as smart as I am expected to be ! But still I do have my own dreams and plans to be realized within a fixed time frame . Hope you won’t mind if I keep this agenda of mine a big secret , would you ?