|A mourner pays tribute to noted littérateur Saurav Kumar Chaliha at Bhootnath in Guwahati on Saturday.
Picture by UB Photos
It was a 40-page story, Ashanta Electron, with which one of the state’s most prominent short story writers, Saurav Kumar Chaliha, started his literary journey in 1950 when he was a college student.
He composed it within three days to participate in a short story competition organised by Ramdhenu (a popular Assamese magazine), which announced an award of Rs 30, then a handsome amount, as he said later, to pay his debt to a paan shop. He won the prize.
After Ashanta Electron, the pen of Surendra Nath Medhi (his original name), a physics teacher in Assam Engineering College, went on ceaselessly, portraying diverse aspects of society, especially urban life.
In a six-decade-long literary journey, Chaliha published 19 books, which include Ashanta Electron (1962), Duporiya (1963), Ehat Daba (1972), Golam (1974), Golpo Nohoi (1988), Aji Sukrobar (1992) and Saurav Kumar Chaliha Rasanawali (2008).
But, a travelogue on Hayagriva Madhava Mandir in Hajo (in Kamrup) was his first writing, which he wrote when he was a student.
It was published in his school magazine.
“I think of the beginning and the ending of a story before I start writing, the middle part comes spontaneously,” he had said. He was very sensitive to words. It took three years for him to write Barkarol, a short story, as he was looking for the appropriate place to put a few words representing the sounds of a lizard. While Ashanta Electron took only three days to finish, Bethophen took two months.
Chaliha does not have an official photograph or an official biography. He was never in the limelight and till death he remained an enigma to his readers.
The reclusive Chaliha did not care for any recognition.
He accepted the Sahitya Akademi award through post. His niece, on his behalf, received the Assam Valley literary award.
In both the events the award acceptance speeches were read out by someone else.