Sunday, May 31, 2009
The Tribal Lord
Recently I found a book in our Rongbuk Library, called the Tribal Folk Tales of Assam,by a former Civil Servant and Chairman of the Assam Public Service Commision,S.N. Barkataki.This book had probably been inherited from our Gentiana Library.Hence, dating this book back to 1982, when this book cost only Rs 25.Well, after a little more than two and a half decades, this amazing book of short stories, would be nothing less than a grand.So will completely Gaurd this book from any kind of theft!
Nonetheless,I have really enjoyed reading the stories, mainly for one reason, they are very, uniquely different.Quite fed up of reading the usual fantasy, and the usual fiction,this was a wonderful change.Much different from the Panchatantra and the Jataka Tales, even the My Book Houses, that I read so fondly when I was younger.This certainly reminded me of my childhood.It reminded me of how our surroundings influence our habits and character.The distinctive characteristics which are regarded as tribal are to a considerable extent shaped by the climate, the nature of soil,the terrain and the scenery of the land which they inhabit.As in countries like Tibet,life in these hills have also been hard.
The author has personally been to these hills and has encountered these unusual stories, while he was posted there.The hill tribes of Assam, lived in the districts of Garo Hills,United Khasi and Jantia Hills(both the districts now in Meghalaya),United Mikir, and North Cachar Hills and the Mizo Hills.The tales from these tribes reflect the astonishing old, cultural patterns of the hill- tribes, their religious beliefs,their behaviour and habits and customs.
Having done EP(Environmental Perception, a course offered in the Foundation Programme of my college) and thoroughly enjoyed it,these popular stories are an inlet to the social anthropology of these tribes,besides being their primary source of entertainment.So, I yes!I have been a sort- of nerd, but have throughly enjoyed this!
Anyway, I would consider this book a treasure, firstly because compiling so many folk tales across Assam is like a mammoth task and Mr Barkataki has been like a genius! Secondly, competing to do the same is almost next to impossible because, there are no "hill-tribes of Assam" any longer, having been absorbed in the new constituted autonomous states.
Nevertheless, the book can be borrowed or better still, read in the Rongbuk Library any day, any time.