Written in Tears: Book Review


Book Name: Written in Tears

Author Name:  Arupa Patangia Kalita- Translated from the Assamese by Ranjita Biswas

About the Author & the Translator:

Arupa Patangia Kalita is the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for her short stories, the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad Award, and the Katha Prize. She is adulated as one of the most outstanding voices of fiction writing in contemporary Assamese literature.  Ranjita Biswas who has beautifully translated ‘Written in Tears’ is an award-winning translator herself. 

Publisher: Harper Collins India

My Rating:  ****/5

'Written in Tears' is a collection of 8 short stories about the life in Assam, which just made me realise that one must read a lot, and reading more stories from different parts of our world is a MUST. While most of the stories have been told from the point of view of the women of Assam and showcases how they lived, their beliefs, and struggles, ' Face in the Mirror' gave me a jolt. Probably because it sounded more like the author's narrated her real life experiences in it. 

' It was a Sunday. The month, April; Year; 1997. How can I forget those days?' She writes. Even I have vivid memories of  my happy college days in Bombay, but at the very same time, the girls in Assam were living through days of extreme turmoil!

' It was a time when money was counted only in lakhs and the number of deaths escalated every day. The group that wanted a separate state was becoming like the bharando bird; with its two mouths, it was devouring its own body...The odour of blood pervaded the air more and more as the days passed.' This passage is so disturbing!

Every story in the book begins with all the beautiful descriptions of an Assam that I'd imagined, as we've always seen in it in pictures. 'Ayengla is a happy woman who has a loving husband, two children, paddy fields and a chang ghar with pigs and chickens. She loves the blue hills that rise high behind her home. On most days, they are covered with cotton-wool clouds and veils of mist; on sunny days, they shine like bright jewels under the sun,' However, like the title of the book suggests, these stories were perhaps really 'Written in Tears'. As the story progresses, the masked men crawl out of the dark forests like ants out of the wood work, turning the scene on it's head, to bring before our eyes the painful, gut wrenching and dark reality. The mental pictures of beautiful houses and gardens burgeoning with flowers turn to images of destructive fires burning everything down along with its people. 

If these stories hadn't been translated to English, I would still be ignorant about the history of violence caused by the agitation in Assam, and the atrocities inflicted upon the women. 

And yet how strong must these women be if the author includes quote like these- ' Winners never quit, quitters never win'. She has also quoted Shelley- "‘If winter comes. Can spring be far behind?’ poignantly portraying the spirit of the people of Assam. 


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