MAGIC AND REALITY
The session “Magic and reality” that occured in the Green Panel Hall on the third of the Valley Of Words Lit Fest featured few of the most fine authors of the seven sisters including Anjum Hassan, Easterine Kire and Chanda Singh in conversation with Bijoya Sawain.
The session started with Ms. Sawain asking Chanda Singh about the central character of her book, David Barrow, a Britisher who did not have the mind to leave India even after the British Raj. Chanda Singh answered that the character is a collection of peronalities she had encountered in real life, after getting married and moved into a the tea plantations of Assam.
“You just can’t get over India. It gets under your skin and you can’t peel it off”. This is what Barrow says about leaving India and moving back to his homeland by ethnicity, although he feels at home in the tea plantations.
According to Sawain the next panelist, Anjum Hassan, born and bought up in Shillong, has etched all the different essences of the city in her book “The lunatic in my mind”. Written back in th 2007, Hassan is suprised it still remains to be her most famous work. She credits this popularity to the curiosity about north east prevelent among the residents of other states. Sawain talks about the book as one which captures the charm of Shillong in its entirety in a very universal sense keeping aside the ethnic conflict and controversies happening there.
Her next book that was featured was “A day in my life”, which Ms. Sawain calls has character driven stories,which works with mindscapes rather than landscapes. Anjum Hassan says it is not an autobiographical in a straight forward way. It is about moving around and captures of the fragility of any kind of rootedness. She read a portion of the story about a person who leaves the city and his corporate world to find out if could live in a little house with leaky roofs.
Easterine Kire, who hails from Nagaland was intorduced as living in the land of magic and away from politics. She lives in Norway now. Her book talks weretigers, who turns into tiger at night to guard their territories and return in theorning as human beings. The story is based on a Mizo folk tale narrated to her mother. She says the tiger is a metaphor in the north east folklore and that is what she has adopted in her works. The tiger is a metaphor for strength and evil.
In her new book titled “Dont run, my love”; the male protagonist is a weretiger. A beautiful man- yes, he is beautiful and not handsome, falls in love with a girl who comes to know his true identity. She loves him, but is terrified too. The way she ahs to chose between live and life is highly disturbing.
The session ended with a discussion on feminism, with Kire quoting a Naga thought, “ A house without a woman, is a body without a soul and a house without a man, is a body crippled.
By Abha Ahad, St. Stephens College, New Delhi