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Indian Novels From North-East

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Are you warm?

Yes I’m warm, John. With you near me I’ll never be cold. (108)

Thus in their love world warmth of love always triumph over coldness of death.

Nongkynrih in her “Prelude” to the book Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends writes that “the Khasis are a great storytelling people” (Nongkynrih 2007, vii). This habit of storytelling flows down the generations in that clan based society. In Hazarika’s novel Kharkongor retains this art, and albeit he faces linguistic barrier, he exhibits this art while narrating his story to John.

The ethnic mosaic of this part of India offers a fascinating scope for academic discourse. How the tribal people of Shillong are desperate to keep their customs and traditions intact is proved by Kharkongor’s decision to fight with his bow and arrows, and it is a part of their culture to play teer game, so much so that to be in Shillong and not to have played teer is much like “a cultivator who has not felt mud in his toes” (36). Kharkongor’s decision to stick to bow and arrow and never use the more modernized and upgraded fire weapon like gun even when his life is at stake, is not a symbol of perpetuation of death and violence, rather it’s like a swansong to him, something which carries traditional tribal ethos and conscious. He carries bow and arrow, but he refuses to carry the thought of killing with what is traditionally known as instruments of killing:

Perhaps a bow but not a gun. I will use it without the thought of killing inside me… There is much poetry in the bow, John Dkhar, but in the gun there is only the matter of, what you say, much destruction, much thought of producing fear. That is not poetry, John Dkhar. (135)

No doubt Bah Kharkongor remains the best teer man in Shillong.

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...06. Print.

Gill, Preeti. ed. The Peripheral Centre: Voices From India’s Northeast. New Delhi: Zubaan: Penguin Books. 2010. Print.

Guha, Aanaya. S. “Violence and Literature– Realities of North East India” . N.p. n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

Hasan, Anjum. Lunatic in My Head. New Delhi: Zubaan: Penguin Books. 2005. Print.

Hasan, Daisy. The To-Let House. Chennai: Tara Books. 2010. Print.

Hazarika, Dhruba. A Bowstring Winter. New Delhi: Penguin Books. 2006. Print.

Hazarika, Sanjoy. Strangers of the Mist. New Delhi: Penguin Books. 1995. Print.

Kashyap, Aruni. The House with A Thousand Stories. New Delhi: Penguin Viking. 2013. Print.

Nongkynrih, Kynpham Sing. Around the Hearth Khasi Legends. New Delhi:Penguin Books. 2007. Print. Folktales of India.

Phukan, Mitra. The Collector’s Wife. New Delhi:Zubaan: Penguin Books. 2005. Print.
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