Assamese Poet Honoured

At a glittering ceremony at held on 26th July,2002 at Rabindra Bharati auditorium in Hyderabad, the award was presented to him by Hon’ble Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Dr. C. Rangarajan.

This award has been instituted by Joshua Foundation in memory of eminent Telegu poet & Padma Bhusan recipient Gurram Joshua .

Shri Phukan is the 7th receipient of this prestigious award given annually given to outstanding poets in the country whose works give expression to progressive ideas, humanism and humanitarian values.

Shri Nilamani Phukan, one of the most acclaimed Assamese poets is a fellow of the Sahitya Academy . He has published seven collections of poems : Surya heno nami ahe ei Nadiyedi( The Sun, they say comes down along this river,1963), Nirjanatar Sabda (Sound of Silence,1965), Aru Ki Naisabda (what more soundlessness,1968), Phuli Thaka Suryyamukhi Phultor Phale(Towards the Sunflower in Bloom, 1972), Kaint, Golap Aru Kaint (Thorns, Roses and Thorns, 1975), Kavita,1980 and Nrityarata Prithvi,1985 along with an anthology of Indian tribal love poems under the title Aranyar Gaan,1993. A collection of his poems selected by himself has come out under the title Golapi Jamur Lagna (Time for the Rose Berries,1977). His poems have also been published under the title Sagartalir Sankha, selected and edited by Hiren Gohain in 1994.

Accepting the award Shri Phukan read out from one of his poems :

Do Not Ask Me How I Have Been

Do not ask me how I have been
I haven't asked me either
down the Kolong flows
a young, female torso
What I was last night
king, hermit, farmer, labourer
lover, rebel, poet
a tiger looking for waterholes
after the kill
I forgot what I was

Do not ask me how I have been
After all I am not alone
for, even after the last supper
I have not bid adieu
nor could I take my leave
I have not laughed since Auschwitz
nor cried either

And where can I go
I forgot where I came from
the day clings on to life
vomiting blood
the bones and bits
trudge along the road
with wry laughter

Do not ask me how I have been
for dogs in coital ecstasy
in shop-front showcases
at the Bhutnath grounds
the blind Kaali fancies
a girdles of male genitals.

For everyone has the same fear
even the dead
to say or not to say
to do or not to do
to open the door or the window
for, this long wait since then
Fibs lies pretence deceit
Youth cruel kind

Do not ask me how I have been
because it's darkness now
Now even it flickers
Now even it glimmers
adversity travail disaster
and in their wake
the banner of man's blood

For in my trousers pockets I carry
two forbidden hands
a bullet reddens in flight
in my bosom
for, it is silence all around
the terrible din of peace

Do not ask me how I have been
down the Kolong flows
a young, female torso
because, for forty-two hours
my corpse lay there
on the footpath of Guwahati.

For even now I have my eyes open
even my death stares open eyed
for, in pool and puddle
in creek and lake
fish in shoals glisten

O you, my ambling horseman.

Later in the evening a dinner was hosted by the Hyderabad Assam Association in honour of the visiting poet.

Dr. Aroop J. Kalita
Gen. Secretary, Hyderabad Assam Association
e-mail: aroopjk@yahoo.com