Thursday, August 14, 2014


It was a surprise. A happy surprise. I had this book with me for a long time – The Dragonfly: Stories (2006). I had never got around reading it. Today morning, I picked up the book in random, to read on the Metro while going to office. There is the first story, by Agyeya titled ‘Jayadol’, translated by Kaveri Rastogi from original Hindi. I wondered what the title meant and dived into the story, suddenly the names of Dibrugarh and Sibasagar cropped up, and I perked up.

As I read on, I am unreasonably happy, almost teary-eyed.

Here is one Hindi author, who decided to tell a particular story from the pages of Asomiya history, with such understanding and with such nuance and such drama…

The story is narrated from the point of view of Lieutenant Sagar, posted in Asom, who wants to visit the historical temple in Sibsagar district called Jayadol and the lake in front of it, called Jaysagar, both dedicated to Jayamati, the legendary heroine of Assamese history, wife of a great Ahom king and mother of the greatest of them all, Swargadeo Rudra Simha.

On the way, there is rain. Lt Sagar loses his way and enters into an old structure, where he has an epiphany, a fever-dream about this particular chapter of Jayamati’s life when the cruel king Chulik-Pha was hunting the Ahom princes, including Jayamati’s husband, Gadapani.

Agyeya dramatizes the story to a large extent, but whatever. I am so damn happy, so damn proud that a page from Asomiya history fueled the imagination of a great Hindi author.

On the eve of 66th Independence Day, if this is not an example of national integration, nothing is.

PS. I saw copy of the original collection where Jayadol first appeared, and I had to take a picture. Now, I regret not picking up the copy at the New Delhi Book Fair, which concluded on August 31, 2014.

Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan 'Agyeya' (सच्चिदानन्द हीरानन्द वात्स्यायन 'अज्ञेय') (7 March 1911 – 4 April 1987), popularly known by his pen-name Ajneya ("Beyond comprehension"), was a pioneer of modern trends not only in the realm of Hindi poetry, but also fiction, criticism and journalism. He was one of the most prominent exponents of the Nayi Kavita (New Poetry) and Prayog (Experiments) in Modern Hindi literature, edited the 'Saptaks', a literary series, and started Hindi newsweekly, Dinaman.

Agyeya also translated some of his own works, as well as works of some other Indian authors to English. He also translated some books of world literature into Hindi.

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