Aghari Atmar Kahini
By Syed Abdul Malik
Translated into English as The Tale of Nomadic Soul by RP Khaund (1990)
The title ‘Aghari Atmar Kahini’ translates to ‘Tale of Nomadic Souls’. And much as the title connotes, the story revolves around the minutiae of the lives of seemingly insignificant people – an unhappy couple, being visited by an old friend. In a loosely structured flow, the story explores the lives of these people: their worldviews, ambitions, personalities, marital troubles, and interactions with an expanding cast of people in their overlapping communities. Malik masterfully portrays the alienation, ennui and uneasiness of an increasingly urban, ‘modern’ life, and its complex interactions with Assamese society, language and culture. It won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1972.
About the Author
Syed Abdul Malik (1919–2000) was one of the most widely known and popular writers in Assamese literature. In his long career, he wrote nearly fifty novels, dozens of plays, short stories, poems, travelogues and children’s fiction, was elected as the president of the Assam Sahitya Sabha (1977) and recognized nationally for his contributions – especially with the Padma Shree (1984) and Padma Bhushan (1992). His writing is known for its emphasis on love; according to Assamese critic Satyendranath Sarma, his representations of love were unique for “the variety of form and colour” it was portrayed. Today, his writings are considered to be a bridge in Assamese literature, stylistic and thematic representations of the socioeconomic and political changes Assam underwent before Independence (and the Second World War), and after it.