Story: Tengani, 2017 / Panchanan Hazarika

                                                     Tengani, 2017

 Original- Panchanan Hazarika

Translation-Archana Gita Saikia


 

Chandan was the man, who talked to me about Tengani the most. It was more about the villages, people, the unhealed huts and about the toilets, ragged with navy blue. The shrubs of Tengani were covered with limes and a gory slogan "Our land, our rights" was dangling over them. The Furkating station became bosom to me without having a step there. He expounded me the roadway long ago- Furkating to Teteliguri, then Jamuguri and after treading a dirt road with woodland shoes comes Tengani.

 

The swampped clays were portraying peculiar portraits of the girls, wearing alta in their heels and dancing Jhoomoor1 A mid-aged man, drenching in the rain was playing Sifung. An aged woman with yellow muddy eyes like a yolk, worn a ton muga riha and cotton chadar which was just unwrapped from the "Jopa" was listening to a moustache farmer leader's speech and clapped keeping her baton aside. I tried to keep those moments in my camera. The firmament was dropping water heavily. I was missing Chandan, who was not there. It was like among the crowds I was searching for Chandan. If I could see him with his blue-framed spects behind the bamboo pillars! Were he in the group of enthusiastic boys Who were lifting their pants up to knees and rushing in the rain!

 

No, he was not there.

 

But It was normal as he had left the org. long ago. It was known to them that  Chandan was my comrade. Still, they didn't ask anything about him. I was googling them.- Because it was Chandan who told me about these people and so I became familiar to them. They were sitting marvellously at the meeting and were listening to the slogans, coursing from the bullhorn, despite the pattering of raindrops over the gambrel. They were getting relief by saying 'Zindabad' as it was not just a word- but the boldness and was the thrill of their battle. They were attentive to the august, humble, intellectual speech of the university professor. But there was a vast distance from Marxism and Nationalism to the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis) betwixt the hallux and the fore toe, which bloodsucker became podgy with their blood. Still, they didn't hesitate to clap exertionally. They loved the moustache farmer leader's speech very much. They found the man very close to their heart who talked about beating the ministers with the stick of a ploughman. And that is why they became valorous and were hollering 'zindabad' along with the ragamuffin person with dazzling eyes.

 

And Tengani became dissented with the same boldness. Became maverick. There were many stories of these people. Stories of persecution, their stories of being deceived, stories of suppression-exploitation over them. But these were just to remembrance. Reiterating the 15 years archaic stories, the people were agonizing in the heat of their incinerated residences once again. In such a rainy day, under the rustic sky, a woman had endured parturitionary ache and the people remembered her toddler fluxing with blood from her thigh. Actually, they couldn't forget the woman who died losing her home and her two infants. That abyss pain was sparkling in the bottom of their burnt hearts like the profound pit occurs due to the trampling of elephants.

 

And that's why their claps were strengthy. Firmness was there and so was determinations.

 

Although they didn't know the concept of communalism, still they knew how did 'cow' become a political animal to bring distinction between Rangman and Rahim. They didn't know what Fascism is but knew there is another influential kanglup to decide what will they ingest. Gitima, who after having 72% was not allowed to go for her master's degree just because she didn't get a seat in the university hostel, her father was there among them. The beautiful granny(grandma) was also there who had not even get a single piece of bricks issued in her name under the Indira Awaas Yojana (P.M Gramin Awaas Yojana).

 

They wanted the people of their state to know their stories from Tengani.  From the village Khakandguri of Tengani.

 

The gliding red-green ensigns had declared war with the rain. The raindrops became soundless and the voices of the people rose up. The gale was becoming cooler, but the warmth of the time was dreadful.

 

(2)

 

My mother had informed me that Rajmedhi came to the Namghar and my father had given some sidhas and had lunch there. My horoscope was also given to writing as well.

 

I was annoyed for sure.

 

'Why to do these things?'

 

We were asked to read the 'Kirtana' and offer a 'Gamosa' to the Satra and a silver flower to our local Namghar... -My mom wanted to say continuously

 

I was excited enough earlier to eat the 'Poka mithoi' made with mollasses, which was made on the eve of Rajmedhi's coming. Whatever my mom said, had made those days alive again.

 

I immersed the half burnt cigarette in the half drunked coffee.

 

The laptop was screening the stories of Tengani. I moved out towards the balcony- the sot ending sky was obscured. Clothes have been hanging down in a cord inside my room for some days. The wind was untainted from the balcony- there were no damping, soggy olfactions.

 

Were those olfactions only in my room!

 

No, the whole of society is olfactioned. Mouldy. And the calculations of days,stars, defining the positions of Guru,Rahu, Ketu from horoscopes was going on in our home.

 

Bipin, who had alcoholic obsessions called me from Majuli yesterday and said  'there is a meeting organized by RSS tonight in our Satra. Not only today, they mostly conduct meetings here nowadays.

 

He is the local reporter of Majuli, working for a newspaper published from Guwahati.

 

"I can't do anything still. They don't publish such news." - Though he was in obsession, I understand his frustrations.

 

The chief editor of that newspaper has resigned before two days. But as an editor, his liberty was also limited. Now in the position of a bright-faced, steady person like him, I find an exhausted, helpless Warrier who left his sword and keeping his knees down.

 

"They will not publish in news, post it in Facebook"- I had no other suggestion for Bipin.

 

And these are the things, people talk about. Everyone knows these. Bipin has seen these all through his own eyes and so became anxious.

 

Few days ago, a boy named Firoz went to the Barpeta Kirtanghar with his couple friends and uploaded the photos in facebook. Instantly the Kirtanghar authority became vocal and kick out the couple and family of his friend's wife from the Kirtanghar for ten years.

 

The satras has already forgotten Sankaedeve, the great personality with liberal, progressive, independent mentality. Actually, they've leapt themselves in a saffron blaze before so long. As the promise of making a bridge is given to the island satras. As they're aspirated for the revival of the noble era.

 

Not only the Satras, but all

the people are also fascinated in saffron fantasy. The festival seekers are self-collateraled in music-dance, in uproars. They're showing bravo for latriaing the river. They want to place the bright lestred docks of Varansi in the villages which are about to rotten in the erosion of the river Brahmaputra.

 

The govt. is planning to sale the River through which the merchants exposes their commercial boat-trips. But people are not informed about it. One who knows tried to imply but they did not realise.

 

They are captivated ewes of saffron 'Mayong.'

 

They are rebuking the weather instead- "why this 'jagal' in the sot month?"

 

"Embankment of our the village is not yet done"- Bipin recalled this to me too.

 

The flood should swipe us away. The Brahmaputra should angry with us. See the ammusement of the people in the name of Festival!!

 

More he is mumbling over the phone, more I'am reminiscing Tengani. The shouting of Zindabad and the sound of clapping which made the pattering dimmed, I am reminiscing them.

 

simultaneously, I'am missing Chandan too.

 

(3)

 

Many days ago, probably during  the month of December or January, I got a midnight call from the Furkating station. It was Chandan. As winter had already come to the cities, I was standing in the balcony, wearing a nagaswal. It seemed the lights on the hills like stars. That night, many people from each district of Assam were coming by train for the demand of land leases movement to be started from the next morning. People came from Golaghat and many Bodos, Rabhas, Ahoms, Kalitas, Hindus- Muslims had come from Tengani too. Chandan surmised once again about the cavalcade, being ready to vibrate the whole Dispur next morning. these were the prefaces of the struggling times. Rudra from Dhemaji, Lakshya from Dibrugarh, Kashyap from Dergaon, Madhurya from Duliajan, Aminul from Sipajhar and many more's calls were heloted in a firm faith or conviction. they were heloted in the expectation of touching the abstract dream named 'liberation'. taking away their rights had made their fists snappish and their muscles hard.  Somewhere if the peasant's lands were taken away to build resorts, somewhere the govt. annihilated the local people for cement factory and somewhere, in the name of multinational educational institutions, the lands of the gullible people were taken away constantly in bighas over bighas.

 

"There will be industries and our boys will get jobs there"- In what a ghastly and false enticement, the antique Nangal and the bulloxes were preyed along with the soft levees and clays. Actually, it was a very difficult task to make the people understand what is rights.

 

People like Chandan used to take such tough tasks bygone. they travelled from villages to alluvial islands and arranged meetings so that they can show the brutal history of deprivation to the people.

 

Were the people fool? they were gullible, but no fool. In a people's struggle, if you consider them as a fool, you can never lead them. Actually, people lead their struggle the way they want. Here leaders are a subsidiary and people are the principals - Chandan said once.

 

unfortunately, that Chandan became disappeared from the struggle one day. That time I was not in Guwahati but used to be in touch with my friends, who were from ghy. We shared our desperations through phone calls. Jahnavi di who was a hosteler of Ujanbajar called me sitting beside the window and pulling her short hair - "they've finished everything"

 

finished!!

 

Actually, I also thought the same. The resignation of Chandan and some of his other comrades, joining a national political party just after a fortnight and their press conferences attacking our previous operations under the org. is what made me think that everything is finished.

 

Having the window seat in the B-4 coach of the Saraighat express, coming from Calcutta to Ghy, I was reminiscing those times. Sometimes the empty fields and sometimes the railway huts lie beside were flashing my eyes. I was looking back on those times which became challenged because of the meaningless slogans and the false manifestos. I felt like someone has burned down the dream of a granary suddenly, which was to be sparkled in the people's eyes.

 

But the things were quite different. Tengani remarked how significant and precise were the things. Only some people were varnished over, it was not the all. Collectivists are not hyprocites.

 

Tengani had revealed after how many clashes and practices the people were united by keeping all the trashes aside.

 

This time not Chandan but the ensigns who fought against the rain, the girls with alta in their heels who danced Jhoomoor in the muds, the yolky eyed granny who wore a ton muga riha said me - the people who do not know Maoism or marxism leads their struggle themselves.

 

And the applauses were just a support to the struggle which was continued without caring the rain and thunders.

 

(4)

 

Pranay was an engineer who was in search of a job, after completing his degree. we shared the same balcony as we lived in the same apartment. I kept a rattan chair and some flower tubs there. At twilight, Pranay used to read the Assam Tribune thrown by the hawker so morn, sitting in a plastic chair on the balcony. After finishing my work I also used to go there with two cups of strong black coffee, one for Pranay and the other one for me, as I don't like to have alone.

 

"You use a saffron cup and scold the saffron party in concert too!!" - pranay laughs. simply or ironically I can't decide.

 

"Violina gifted this cup"

 

"Your girlfriend?"

 

"No, we are friends"

 

I was in rent in Senikuthi with two other friends after leaving the university hostel. Violina and Jahnavi di who were from the same group or shared the same ideologies with us during the university days came to visit us one day. I was totally unaccustomed to the kitchen and so our china cups were broken out by me that day. After two days, Violina brought three red, saffron and blue cups which were steel from inside and plastic from outside and can be corked too. the saffron was mine, the red one was Rituparna's and the owner of the blue cup was Bhairav who after completion of his studies returned to Jorhat and Rituparna also got a job in Rajasthan. So I've left that three-seater room and shifted to a new one near Navagraha. and these three cups are with me for the last five years. yes, it has been five years.

 

today suddenly Pranay has taken me to those days again.

 

there are very fewer similarities between Pranay and me. maybe we are not good friends. but we both try to be a good neighbour.

 

Its been two years from the completion of your engineering degree and still you are searching for the job you really want to do in the second page of the Assam tribune! who is responsible for this! yourself or the system? - I don't ask Pranay.

 

he says- you all oppose river dams, industries, you find plundering everywhere, then how shall we get job?

 


He always argues with me regarding the facebook posts, I write against the government or the State.

 

Do you really think Pranay, you'll get a job if the river dams would be made, if the multinational companies would be offered the lands of the Tholgiris to establish industries! do you?

 

Gogoi sir told us -"ULFA was not formed purposelessly. Paresh boruah-Aravind rajkhowa did not choose the forest to go without any reason. they've been seeing the oil refinery nearby their homes from their infancy. but nobody was benefited of that. They had not even franchise over their own resources.

 

For what reason the people shall not be so anguished! why they'll not want to break the system? why?

 

And if we let them build an industry, what job will be offered to our boys? Gate keeper! security guard! or a clerical job? moreover thousand of educated unwaged will be sealed as 'disqualified'

 

this politics of plundering is not that much easy Pranay! not much easy.

 

I turn back to Tengani and rearrange things like changes in the system, federal governance, the rights of special states, the villages which are to be robust distinctively and I return to the proposed elegant social structure in the manifesto and to the democratic dream of having rights on our own land, water-wildlife and mineral resources. I return to that dream of liberation which was vowed to the people.

 

That dream has occupied the conscious and subconscious minds of the barrened villages and the dying cities or else the fantasy quakes up suddenly.

 

Now I realize from de novo that the ceaseless practice in the sludges is what made Tengani 'exceptional.' And the dream is the foremost necessity, protests-sieges and politics come after that.

 

************

 

Keyword - Tengani: a place of Golaghat district

 

Notes:

v  Sifung- sifung is a traditional musical instrument of the bodo people

v  Muga Riha- a traditional Assamese dress

v  chadar- upper wear (a dress worn by assamese ladies)

v  Jopa- a bamboo basket, used for keeping clothes

v  Namghar- a prayer house

v  Sidha- uncooked eatables offered for worshipping

v  Gamosa- a piece of cloth,( the great significance of the Assamese people)

v  Sot- the last (12th) month of the Assamese year 

   Poka mithoi-  a cuisine from Assamese culture

v  Nagaswal- a piece of cloth like scarf, used in naga society

v   Bigha- measurement of land

v  Nangal- a ploughing tool

v  Jagal- continual or incessant rain

v  Tholgiri- the original people of a particular place

 


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