I read a lot of magic realism novels. But not the most iconic ones in its trajectory. After graduating from NEHU back in 2013, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude served as an introduction to the genre. The novel tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. The family’s eccentricities shaped the fate of the town. Replete with nature imagery, there is a vibrancy in Marquez’s long descriptions in which lay underlying meanings.
The Romantics of Pankaj Mishra is that rare Indian novel that, with its refreshing lyrical style, takes the reader on an emotional ride. Samar, an IAS aspirant, spends his time in the holy city of Benares reading books of literature and philosophy. Being an introvert and recluse, he is sensitive to the world around him and chooses to isolate in his room to revel in artistic and philosophical ideas. But this secluded life does not last long.
I was a reclusive geek back in college. Every day during the off periods of two hours, I would tread peacefully from Shillong College to the State Central Library to sit there and read. There was a classmate of mine who would accompany me there. I found her to be quite self-absorbed and talkative. On the way, she would always talk of her cats, her mischievous dog and her flowers. To tell the truth, I found her a tad boring. But she was too naïve to notice this.
Back in the 60s and 70s, the Dinam Hall in Jaiaw was the hub of live music performances in Shillong. With its sound-proof walls and Assam-type frame said to be built by the British, the hall was where all top local musicians performed. Therisia War recalls the performers tying a string to a plywood tea box and playing it to produce a sound akin to bass guitar and also using two tablespoons as percussion instruments.
It was the 2000s. A teacher asked the students in her school what they wanted to do when they grew up. A girl sitting in the front row raised her hand and said she wanted to be a scientist. Soon others followed her. While some said they wanted to be doctors or engineers, others had professors or architects on their lists. But Anniesha Mawrie had other dreams.
From the many novels that I glanced at the bookshelf in Swish Café – The Inheritance of Loss, The God of Small Things, A Bowstring Winter,to name a few – I picked out Anjum Hasan’s Lunatic In My Head, and read it having ordered a cup of Irish coffee. I was most amused at the same time compelled to imagine happily in my mind ‘The Happening’, a confluence of painting, poetry and music that Aman, the character, and his close friends organise in Shillong. It was not like the CALM Fest, but a place where art lovers were like freewheeling hippies.
The eight states of Northeast India have some similarities as most of the tribes have their unique myths, legends and folktales. The tribes of Northeast India understand their origin and moral ethics through these. It was when the British and Welsh missionaries came here during the 19th century that some of the tribes followed their religion i.e Christianity.