Subhajit Bhadra in Discussion with Akash Dipta Thakur

Ques: Kindly tell us in detail about your childhood as it has been the formative stage of your life.

Ans: Though my native place is Baligaon under Jorhat district, I was born in Mangaldoi, Tengabari. My father was in the public service of the state government. Because of which our whole family had to stay there for many years. But when I was one and half years old, my father got transferred to Nagaon and we came there.

Ques: Kindly tell us about your place of origin and upbringing.

Ans: We have been in different places because of the transferable job of my father. Besides Mangandoi, we stayed in Nagaon and Dergaon in the early times of my life. Finally, we returned to our original place, Baligaon, Jorhat where my father was born and brought up.

Ques: When did you start your early education and how was the environment of your primary school.

Ans: I started my early education in the last part of the seventieth decade of the last century. During the Primary education, up to class III, I studied in Nagaon Town Prathamik Vidyaloy and then in Dergaon Town Balika Prathomik Vidyaloy, from which I have got Primary Scholarship.

High school education started in Dergaon Indranee Devi High School. Teachers of that institution were very caring and kind hearted as well as they were very good mentors. In that institute, I studied up to class VIII. Then we returned to Jorhat where my further education continued. I passed H.S.L.C exam in 1989 from Jorhat Govt Multipurpose Higher Secondary School. I passed H.S.S.L.C Exam in 1991 and B.Sc. in Physics in 1994 from Jagannath Barooah College, Jorhat.

Ques: Kindly tell us about your higher education.

Ans: I completed M. Sc. in Nuclear Physics from Guwahati University and got M. Phil degree from Madurai Kamaraj University.

Ques: Did you always want to be a writer?

Ans: Definitely not. I do not believe that I am a writer. I am primarily a learner and reader and always want to remain so. I am just trying to express my feelings and experiences in my writings with the colour of emotions keeping in mind the readers’ satisfaction.

Ques: How do you keep the balance between your academic life and your writerly life.

Ans: I think that there are three qualities such as sincerity, punctuality and honesty that help you keep a proper balance between the academic life and writerly life. 

Ques: Kindly tell us about your professional life and do you think that the job of professor has an impact on society?

Ans: In my professional life, I always try to empower my students with proper knowledge of the subject. Also, my effort is to make them proper human beings rather than becoming money earning machines only.

The teaching profession has the lasting impact on society because our task is to build human resources. Students always observe and follow whatever we do in their presence, in the classroom and beyond the classroom. Our decency, politeness and modesty should be like an extra learning for them.

Ques: Kindly tell us about the genesis of your novel ‘UPAKUL’ brought about by Jyoti Prakashan.

Ans. In the ancient society, the customs and rituals of the Brahmin family was very strict which somehow inflicted cruelty to the widows and for those women who could not bear a child. Story of ‘Upakul’ is based on such sensitive issues along with a love story which flows silently along.

I think ‘Upakul’ is like a statue/deed of women psychology. I gave all my efforts in the creation of ‘Upakul’ and now I think that my effort has not gone in vain. Readers and mainly women accept the story with pleasure and satisfaction which I came to know from various massages and reviews published in different newspapers, magazines and other social media spontaneously.

I am very grateful to Shree Nagen Sarmah who give the proper recognition of the story by publishing it on behalf of the esteemed publishing house Jyoti Prakashan.   

Ques: Kindly tell us about your novel AAROHI.

Ans: The story of ‘Arohi’ is based on love, faith, friendship, worries in the family. This is the story of two close friends along with their family members, one of which has an uncommon past. His father had a hidden family unknown to the society. What happens in the last is full of suspense and anxiety and it ends with creating a reverberation in the readers’ heart. Earlier, this novel was published serially in ‘Basundhara’ the Sunday supplement of DainikJanambhumi and became very popular among the readers. It was then published by Rupjyoti Devnath on behalf of Jagaran Sahitya Prakashan.

Ques: Very soon you are coming up with another novel that will be published by Nagen Sarma on behalf of Jyoti Prakashan. Your views!

Ans: Yes, another novel ‘Sipare Jamuna’ got published recently. The story of this novel is something different and uncommon. What we believe about the things, events which are happening every day, every moment in the surroundings, are they like that what they seem to be? Is there another meaning of what we frequently called ‘love’?

‘Sipare Jamuna’ is the story of a concubine who is very brave and rigid by mind. The good and bad sides of our society are revealed through her mind. ‘Sipare Jamuna’—it is the resonance of mental pain of each and every common young girl. I hope the untold truth of reality—‘Sipare Jamuna’ will achieve popularity among the readers. Taking the opportunity, I express my sincere thanks to Shree Nagen Sarmah, the owner of Jyoti Prakashan.

Ques: You are a prolific short story writer. What is your view about this genre in context of your stories?

Ans: I believe the fact ‘If the whole life of a person is like a huge tree, then a branch of that tree taken away by force will be a short story’. I have written more than ninety short stories which got published in the renowned Assamese magazines like ‘Gariyoshi’, ‘Prantik’, ‘Satsory’, ‘Prakash’,’Anyayug’ along with the popular newspapers and their relevant magazines published with special issues.

It gives me immense pleasure that all the stories have become popular among the readers. Through the stories I have written, I want to reveal and reflect the little but common issues in everyday life of the common people. The things we see and observe in our surroundings would be the core part of my stories and very common people could be the characters of the story. I just want to say again that the readers are the capital of my writings and I have been writing only for the readers and not to get analyzed by the critics and to get complements from their side. I believe that ‘Without readers’ recognition, the literature would be meaningless’.

Ques: You also write for children which is a difficult task. How do you do justice to this craft?

Ans. Actually I think that good literature for children is very important. Psychology of a child is very soft and full of imagination. Their brain is always ready to accept anything whichever is conveyed to them. We provide them healthy food to keep their body fit and fine; we carry them to learn music, to the  playgrounds in order to keep their body and mind  healthy. But for their mental enhancement, we should provide them with good literature. So in future, they can grow up with proper mindsets full of good habits. In order to keep a building strong enough, the foundation should be properly built, similarly in order to develop human minds, children should be grown up with healthy minds. For which, they should be enriched with good literature.

I wrote more than twenty short stories, lots of poems, and one novel titled ‘Beliphular Rang’ got published from ‘Assam Book Trust’.

Ques: Who are your favourite Assamese writers?

Ans: There are many esteemed Assamese writers who are my favourites. Some of them are Sahityarathi Laksminath Bezbaruah, Birendra Kumar Bhattachharyya, Dr. Lila Gogoi, Sayed Abdul Malik, Mamoni Raisam Goswami, Dr. Laksminandan Bora and many more. But one writer whose writing inspired me most is the one and only Dr. Bhabendra Nath Saikia. I never met him in my life, yet he is my `Guru’ whose creations influenced my mind deeply.

One thing more to say that I want to convey my regards to Dr Laksminandan Bora, who is just like a godfather to me and without his inspiration I think I would not have been in this position.

Ques: What are your future projects?

Ans: Creations of short stories, poems, drama, articles, child literature…all are going in their own way and I want to continue all these as usual. But regarding future project, I will be completing two novels in the course of one year, one of which is for especially for children.

Ques: You have also penned literature for children. When and how did you feel the spark?

Ans. Yes, I have written more than twenty short stories, many poems, tales and one novel titled ‘Beliphular Rang’ published by Axom Book Trust, especially for children. In the middle of the year 2014, Santanu Tamuli, the editor of the popular Children magazine ‘Mouchaq’ and ‘Natun Aviskar’, who is nothing else as a devotee of children literature and also famous and popular as ‘Mouchaq mama’ among children, called me. He asked me to write a short story for children. I shall never forget his words of inspiration—“Akash, I know you have the ability to write for children. Just give me a story within fifteen days, which will be included in the book ‘Nirbachita Sisu-Golpo’ published by Sahitya Academi and edited by me.” That was the start and I wrote my first short story for children named ‘Asukh’ which was published in that book and also in ‘Mouchaq’, it became popular among children.

Creating anything for children gives me a kind of pleasure. I wrote the novel ‘Beliphular Rang’ which was published serially in ‘Mouchaq’, story of which is based on a six-years old child named ‘Bapu’ of unusual behavior, who is very much fond of among his teachers, grandfather and grandmother. The story became popular among children. Short stories, poems and tales written by me were published in many popular magazines including ‘Mouchaq’, ‘Mukuta’, ‘Akanir Ankuran’, ‘Rang aahe pakhi meli…etc.

Ques: How is children’s writing different from writing for adults?

Ans: Writing for children is not so easy. Children psychology is difficult to understand. Their minds are full of imagination, innocence and full of joy. They wish to talk to everything like birds, butterfly, flowers, firefly, whatever is near to them. Therefore, writing for them should be full of carefulness and sensitive enough to attract them. In our childhood, we used to read ‘Amar Chitra Kotha’, ‘Chandmama’, ‘Sanfura’, ‘Tinkle’, ‘Mouchaq’ etc. whose stories remain ever fresh in our mind and heart.

Ques: Your novels and stories always have a philosophical edge. What do you think about it?

Ans:  The characters and stories of my writing whether it may be novel, short story, poem, drama are always the common characters from the society. The philosophical view behind my writings is in search of true pleasure, true happiness which cannot be bought by any kind of wealth, which can’t be compared with any materialistic resources.

Ques: Most of your writings are humanistic in prospective. What is your view about it?

Ans: In our everyday life, we usually observe that humanity is somehow dying day by day. In this globalization period, where the whole world is confined in the palm of our hand, we can’t reach the heart of our parents, spouses, neighbors, friends, colleagues and even we usually fail to realize the emotions of our life partners. The whole life is spent in one bedroom without finding the door to open each other’s heart.

The life is nothing but realistic acting and hiding our true feelings, nature…. Hence I use to colour my writings with true sense of humanism rather than hiding the realistic views and sides of the society and nature of human beings.

Ques: What do you think about the future of Assamese literature?

Ans: Future of Assumes literature…difficult to say. From the past, all of us know that Assamese literature is mainly magazine oriented. The good and bad sides of all kind of writings are judged by the editors and editorial board. Views of people may be different. Hence there are possibilities of being biased in selection of good literature.

Upcoming writers should be encouraged, role of critics should be neutral. Though I am hopeful about the future of Assamese literature, there is always an apprehension in mind that so called unwanted lobbyism may destroy the environment of good practice and literature.

About the author

Akash Dipta Thakur is an emerging voice in the Assamese literature and has written short stories and novels. His narrative is very powerful and engaging. He writes about contemporary society and people. He has written equally well for both adults and children. He has written plays for radio also. He is basically an academician and writing is his passion.

In this candid interview Akash speaks about life and literature without any inhibitions.

About the interviewer

Subhajit Bhadra is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Bongaigaon College, Bongaigaon, Assam. He is a freelance writer, poet, critic and translator. He has published a number of books including The Masked Protagonist In Jewish American FictionHistory of English Literature, The Man Who Stole The CrownThe Rising Sun, a book of poems in Bengali and a translated work titled Selected Stories of Arun Goswami.

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