An Assamese novel based on the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 by Jnanpith winner Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya is now available in English.
‘Blossoms in the Graveyard’, translated from the original ‘Kobor Aru Phool’ by Mitra Phukan, is the story of Mehr, a young girl from a village in erstwhile East Pakistan. It is about her journey from dependence to self-reliance, both emotionally and physically.
Bhattacharyya had written the novel in 1972 with a fine understanding of all the issues involved, in a non-partisan way.Through fiction, it deals with events and issues of recent history. The echoes from that time reverberate across the entire subcontinent even today, making this a work of contemporary significance.
A moving portrayal of Bangladesh Liberation War
Parallel to Mehr’s story is the narrative of a land that is struggling to assert its identity and moving towards a hard-won independence in a crucible of blood and tears. Mehr is also a metaphor for the struggle of Bangladesh towards freedom. Set at a crucial time in the history of the freedom struggle, when the land is on the cusp of becoming Bangladesh, the novel is in the voice of a man named Robin Babu. He is an Assamese and like many other people living in the place near the theatre of war is deeply affected by the happenings near his doorstep.
Lakhs of refugees had entered Assam. The people of Assam were afraid that because the population had now swollen to unbearable levels, they themselves would be endangered.
According to Guwahati-based Phukan, translating the book, published by Niyogi Books, was a very moving experience as the events that form the background to the story are ‘a part of recent history, whose reverberations and consequences are being felt, strongly, even today in the region in which I live.’