Kabiranjan Saikia, popularly known as Swadhinata Phukan who was the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Although Swadhinata Phukan was a member of the civil wing of the banned outfit, he was gunned down in a fake encounter by the state police on the night of 26 May 2000 at Garumara in the Jorhat district of Assam. He was 26 at that time. These two poems by Kabiranjan Saikia – “Aartonador Enixa” [“A Night of Screams”], written on 29 February 1992 and “Xamprotik” [“Nowadays”], written on 18 February 1993 – are sourced from an anthology of his poems, Moi Kabiranjan Uttopto Hobo Khuja Eta Kobitar Naam [I Am Kabiranjan, the Name of a Poem Wanting to Erupt], published by Aank-Baank in 2011.
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“Without any of us beholding
A forest is walking alongside the multitude heading home in throngs
Without any of us knowing
The blood oozing from their torn toe nails keeps marking the path”
Translation and Commentary by Nabina Das Nabina Das is a poet and writer based in Hyderabad. Assamese poet Nilim Kumar recently published a poem Ekhon Asustha…
Two poems by Kabiranjan Saikia/Swadhinota Phukan, a revolutionary poet from Assam who was killed by Indian state in a false encounter on 26th May 2000.
Translations by Arunabh Konwar
The imposition of homogeneity by a dominant group results in implicit and explicit violence on any form of identity. But before proceeding further, as a backdrop to this piece, we would like to cite an anecdote that occurred around two and a half years back. This was at a conference which was focusing on the ‘Northeast’ of India. In one of the presentation, an Assamese upper-caste female anthropologist dressed in a Mekhela-Chador went on to accuse the presenter of not being informed about the ‘real’ ‘Assamese’ woman. According to her, this ‘real’ ‘Assamese’ woman is defined by her ‘real’ dress and that it is the only way in which her womanhood can be defined. Of course nowhere in the presentation, it was propagated that women should give up on wearing any particular attire, including the Mekhela-Chador. But as most of us would agree, neither womanhood nor any other identity can be described in a unilateral homogenous manner. Questions of class, caste, religion, community, language, location are all intertwined to it.
“Bhairavi was trying hard to concentrate on her Haruki Murakami novel as she kept tossing on her mahogany bed. But she was frequently getting distracted by the beautiful sharp notes of Himachali folksongs she played on her laptop just a short while ago.
At that moment, she suddenly heard a hiss hiss sound coming from the window near her. She was dazed to see an enormous python creeping through her window railings and slipping along its body towards her room. A chunk of his large smoky body glittered in the mid-day sunlight.
The BBC documentary that alleged a darker side to the ‘success story’ of conserving the one-horned rhino in the Kaziranga National Park has provided an occasion to think about the intertwined destinies of the animal and certain conceptions of Assamese nationalism. The article argues that the discourse of conservation in the state is constrained by a failure to see the animal as an end in itself. Conservation efforts are instead subordinated to various ideological agendas and therefore the animal’s value is seen as residing in the ideological role that it fulfils. The article traces the history of constructing the animal as an indispensable constituent of Assamese nationalism and how the metaphors used to represent this relationship have changed in response to the changing notions of Assamese nationalism.