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Poetry Reading Program in Delhi University: Assamese Culture and Contemporary Politics Discussed

Aruni Kashyap, young English language poet from Assam, opened up for discussion several problems and issues relevant to contemporary Assam in a Poetry Reading Program held at Hansraj College, University of Delhi, on 26th August, 2008. This was the monthly reading series that the Department of English, Delhi University organizes. He read his poems along with eminent Hindi poet Jitendra Srivastava.

Jitendra Srivastav teaches Hindi at Indira Gandhi National Open University and Aruni Kashyap is a student of MA English Literature at St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi. Jitendra Srivastav has published three poetry collections and they are In Dino Halchal (2000), Anbeli Katha (2003), and Asundar Sundar (2008). He has also written critical works on Hindi literature and they are Bharatiya Samaj Ki Samasyae Aur Premchand (2002), Bharatiya Rastrabaad Aur Premchand (2004), and Sabda Mein Samay (2008). He is also the winner of "Kirti Sanman (2005)" and "Ramchandra Shukla Puraskar (2006)."

Aruni Kashyap has published in Amar Asom, Sadin, Satsori, The Assam Tribune, Tehelka, Postcolonial Text , The Daily Star, Indian Literature, Muse India and Pratilipi. Aruni debuted in Assamese with his popular column "Dilli Vishawavidyalar Pora" in Amar Asom daily, when he was a young student of BA English at St. Stephen's College Since then, he has written reviews, essays, short stories in Assamese and English. Homen Borgohain wrote in "Prothom Kolom", Amar Asom that, "Aruni Kashyap's name is one of those names that would be uttered among the best writers and scholars in Assam after ten years."

"I didn't choose English, but English chose me", he said in the interactive session that followed after his reading, when asked by the audience how he inhabits two languages. "Since childhood, I have been writing in Assamese and after coming to Delhi I started writing poems in English. I read Ngugi Wa Thiongo in college, and used to feel guilty, thinking if I had cheated my people, state and culture by choosing to write in a colonial language."

"But gradually I understood the necessity and responsibility of writing in a language which is not my own. Being from a post-colonial nation, we cannot avoid the presence and importance of English. We need more English writers from Assam so that issues and problems get discussed at least in the national level, if not international. Today, I don't have to wait till my work is translated and hence I can make my work available to the whole world and open up what we are suffering at the hands of the central government, the Indian army and the corrupt politicians of Assam and also what we face here in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore as students." Almost all of Aruni's poems are about Assamese rural life, history, and borrows extensively from folklore.In the section "Blood, Guns and the Sun" he read out poems that depicted the plight of common people caught amidst insurgency due to ULFA and racist attitudes faced by Northeastern people in Delhi.

He was also asked about the theme of exile, and he said that it "Has a historical lineage. Had I not come to Delhi to study, may be I wouldn't have written in such a nostalgic manner about Assam. In this way, I feel myself linked to the Assamese students in Calcutta in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Dr Moheswar Neog in his history of Assamese literature says that it was the nostalgic feeling among Assamese students that lead to "swajon preeti" and thus they formed the Asomiya Bhasar Unnati Sadhini Sobha in 1884."

Aruni plans to publish a collection of poems in English soon. "I want to continue writing in English and Assamese. It's more liberating to write in my mother tongue, but since English came too, I'd continue as it opens up Assam for the rest of world more easily."
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Syeda Semim's picture

Aruni is Assam's hope. We wish him all the best. May the Almighty bless him with good health and spirit. We love you and are proud of you Aruni!
rjmandira's picture

All d best you made us proud and keep up the spirits. Assam needs more of Aruni now !!
Umananda's picture

He's doing really some good research with a content that enlightens our identity and enriches the mind... kudos Aruni...Keep going
Srutimala Duara's picture

We are proud of you Aruni. Keep it up!
Mitali Barman's picture

Aruni... All the best...
Nanda Kirati Dewan's picture

Kudos Aruni.....
ANAMITRA GOGIO's picture

I know you are the brightest star of Assamese literature at present :)
sangeeta saikia's picture

Excellent job. Yet i believe you still have lots to do for your land. just keep on soaring high!
navaneeta's picture

I had been lucky to attend a poetry recitation of the young poet at the south campus and the poem "bohag" has stayed with me...we feel really proud to have found a voice in you.
pratisha kumari's picture

i am really surprise to know about your enthusiasm about Assam.....hope all assamese people should try to do job like you.
dr.ranen sarma's picture

Please give me your mobile no.
milk talukdar's picture

When will "rupohi asomi" give birth to an another poet who can create a poem like - nojona biror muro' rongamuwa o rongamuwa ???
pranjit bora's picture

I wish you all the best and expect more and more from you..
roop's picture

I read his writings in Tehelka, they are really awesome.. im really touched
himangsu baruah's picture

netot bisari palo mone bisari thaka eta natun thikana, dillit thako..asomiya kabita likah mela alap karo..bisaro alap sambandha sthapan kariboloi..parim ne...
Satish Kumar Baishya's picture

Assamese should be proud of Aruni Kashyap. I respect his thinking -"We need more English writers from Assam so that issues and problems get discussed at least in the national level, if not international".
Sushma Lekha Chetia's picture

We want more young people like Aruni to represent the young generation of assam.Wish you all the best Aruni.

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