Dr Merry Baruah Bora

Akou Pop Asomiya, an anthology of prose by the well acclaimed literary persona of Assam, Najma Mukherjee, is a sequel to her earlier work titled Pop Asomiya.  Once again in this collection of non-fiction writing catering to several themes, the author provides an interesting reading.  The collection is a proof of the author’s keen eye of observation of the maladies afflicting the contemporary socio-cultural landscape of this region and her intelligent portrayal of these.

In a style that might best be termed satirical fantasy, the sections that comprise the collection speak of very current issues such as ‘Environment’ in the piece titled ‘Green Literature’ for instance. Through the lens of satire, the author deliberates on how such an important issue has been trivialised by the superficial manner in which both society and academia has approached it in the present times.  In a bid to save the ‘green’, individual affairs, social existence comprising literary exercises as well, that are undertaken create another equally grave problem – in the form of the excessive occupation of cyberspace. The apparent lightness of tone would perhaps make the reader feel at first, that these writings have been created for the sole purpose of humour.  However, beneath the witty narration lies an intense critique of contemporary culture that has come to affect the society and lives immensely.

‘Pop Poriyal’ which may be translated as ‘Pop Family’ comprises a figurative display of the so called pop family structure of the present times, the changing pattern of human relationships within the family and along with it, very significantly the change in values. ‘Pop Asomiya Jibika’ or ‘Livelihoods of the Pop Asomiya’ is yet another interesting observation by the author, which throws light on the changing pattern of socio-cultural values.  The various so called livelihood of the Pop Asomiya comprises professions such ‘Manuh Jogan Kendra’, ‘Botah Besa’, ‘Party Khola’ and ‘Andolan Kora’ among others. The choice of livelihood here is a revelation of the contemporary scenario in Assam where a large number of youth while away their time in activities that would fetch easy money.  Such tendencies are in fact the consequence of the global environment of consumerism.

What is remarkable in this anthology is the brevity of expression – an instance of the well known adage ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ – thereby making these pieces a brilliant reading.  In terse and succinct narration the author has been able to provide an in-depth analysis of the social, political, economic and cultural ailments both within the individual and the general perspective. With a total number of ninety eight pages, the anthology provides a fresh reading owing to its new style – satirical fantasy, as it takes the reader into the fights of fantasy while showing him/her bleak realities through the prism of humour. The softcopy of the anthology, priced at Rs 50, is available at Assamcart (www.assamcart.com).

About the reviewer-author: The reviewer, Dr. Merry Baruah Bora is an Assistant Professor (Sr) in the Department of English, Cotton University, Guwahati. She had received Ph.D from the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT, Guwahati. Her area of interest includes Literary Theory, Indian Writings in English, Women’s Studies and Translation. She has published research articles in various journals, authored chapters in textbooks for KKHSOU and other anthologies and translated fiction and non-fiction works. She was also a Visiting Faculty at TISS, Guwahati campus.

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