North eastern names of an Indian identity: award winning author Dhruba Hazarika

dhruba hazarika

For passion and profession to merge into singularity might not be something very striking in the context of the current times. But pursuing one’s choices in indulgence side by side their scouting out of career was the norm of even just a decade earlier age of existence. The path indeed was eked out by then to lead to the same prospects in coincidement but there still existed a gap that one needed to skillfully leap across to chart out the simultaneousness in much discrete assertion. Prior to that though, the gap prevailed in as glaring evidence of ‘greatness’ as possible making it thus a much tricky ground even in careful consideration of treading.

That he has been straddling this then definitely divergent domains with much elan might be what strikes up a very ‘contemporary’ reputation for a man not exactly one of the current brigade of enthusiastic youngsters though only in age. But even beyond this dabbling in duality it is the whole life and experiences of Dhruba Hazarika forever meandering along a diversely composed way of living that makes his person an enigmatic one to chance upon. One among the handful of prominent writers in English from the north eastern region of India is this man of many words indeed but also with as variegated an identity that has been dazzling in every specific strand of summation.

An Assamese born and brought up in a city that has been instrumental in stirring many a dreams in daring differences of conceiving, it is Hazarika’s privilege indeed of finding himself emerge from such beginnings that has been anything but uninterestingly unidimensional. His Shillong roots permeating his Assamese sentiment has thus necessarily made Hazarika a explorer of so many different realms of dwelling- in reality as well as in imagination.

A graduate from the prestigious St. Edmund’s College in Shillong and armed with a Master’s in Economics from Gauhati University while also bearing a LLB degree, it might be an influence of his residing in the multitudes that Hazarika went on to work in quite unrelated a capacity as a salesman. That brief stint in Delhi though was followed by his serving as a lecturer at Jagiroad College in Assam until the dawn of the year of 1983 when Hazarika joined the Assam Civil Services.

During his remarkable career as a distinguished member of the Assam Civil Services, Hazarika tended to be as flexible in his area of working. Having served as the Asst. Commissioner, SDO(Civil) Bilaspure and Deputy Secretary in various departments, he was inducted in to the IAS in 2000 and was Additional Deputy Commissioner at Sonitpur, Joint Secretary in GAD, SAD, IPR while also being the Director – Sports & Youth Welfare and Director Operation at the 13th National Games. Other designations differently defining Hazarika’s distinguished profile were his appointment as Deputy Commissioner at Darrang, Director of the Inland Water Transport Corporation, Secretary – Tourism, Transport,  Environment and Forest Department.

And while Dhruba Hazarika chose to retire from service in 2016 to pursue more passionately his soul interests of reading and writing, the exemplariness of his person meant that he would find induction once again as a distinguished member of the Assam Public Service Commission a couple of years later. Also an avid martial arts enthusiast, Hazarika had been the President of the All Assam Taekwondo Association, the period of tenure also seeing him being honoured with an honorary diploma by the World Taekwondo Federation. It had been Dhruba Hazarika’s characteristic doing in dedication and enthusiasm for the popularization of taekwondo in north east India that earned him this recognition, even when this dedication of his is no any less evident in deciphering across every arena of his working.

Such exemplary display in his professional capacity is but only a continuation of the character of which Dhruba Hazarika is proudly possessing. Particularly in his very personal pursuit of penning in much poignancy the passions of his perceiving, this bureaucrat of eminence tends to be as esteemed an expression of such imagination inspired indeed by the rosy as well as the revulsive regards of reality. His own fascination with the literary feeds into once again miscellaneous many musings of what entails from the boundless expanse of the human mind- from obvious assertions of the many issues in which the whole of north east India is almost always viewed by people from other parts of the country to also heartwarming emotions of what necessarily stirs the human being to heartfelt humility of their own existence through their likeness to others.

Not much surprisingly as well- at least for anyone coming to expect from Hazarika a non conformity to linearity as something very characteristic of his essence- his style in writing can be as dramatic in its revealing as tender and emotional as it would be an encounter in passion and assertiveness. Identifying at once as a novelist and a short story writer and having received acclaim for both styles of writing, Hazarika indeed is one of the more ‘important’ authors from this part of the country. Be it his status as being one of the pioneer among English writers of the North East or the effect of his works in bringing greater focus upon the realities of the region, Hazarika’s is an identity defining of his own uniqueness.

katha prize stories
Source: Katha Books

The recipient of the All India Katha Award for Creative Fiction in 1996 and the DY365 Award for Literature in 2014, while also finding nomination for the 2007 Hutch Crossword Book Award, this writer of well over a 100 short stories and essays published in many magazines and journals and newspapers with also three books to his name is one dwelling always in the greater nuances of existence. In fact his collection of short stories Luck is so effective in portraying the intricate emotions intertwined in the human- animal relationship that found approval from Ruskin Bond himself.

Extending as well to the greater fore of the human- environment relationship is the sentiment of what Hazarika always delivers in such pursuits that delve upon this significant aspect of the whole worldly existence even when he can be incredibly indelible as well in his differently immersive relaying of the north eastern perspective. So if his collection of short stories Luck published in 2009 might have been alluding to the former flow of narrative, his second novel Sons of Brahma that came out in 2014 is one diametrically diverging from that lucid, very poetic stirring of feelings. The details are vivid still and there is not much ambiguity either even in this case of occurrence but as the very name of it in evoking the reference of the Brahmaputra suggests, the book is one of a graver seriousness indeed.

Old school perhaps in his earlier expression and more relevant in the other assertion of his conscience, Dhruba Hazarika comes across as a writer complete in himself. That he incorporates in his style and mannerism and most importantly his emotions an assortment of realisations that which is as widely composed as the ambits of the human receiving is what is undeniable indeed. That of course is only further establishing of the fluidity that marks his character as something necessary to him. For even in his long drawn association and obvious sentiments therefore of the charms with the Shillong specificness, Hazarika has been aware still in his Assamese identity to consciously dwell on the history and issues of that determining. And yet even in dealing with some of the most riddling aspects in much sensitive residing for the state, Hazarika manages to still make the stars shine down upon the beauty of Assam in Sons of Brahma.

Equally evocative had been Hazarika’s debut novel A Bowstring Winter (2006) set against the picturesque identity of Shillong to bring into play once again the essence of the classic north eastern aesthetic as something necessarily imbuing every aspect of his being. That the thematic premise of it was as far removed from his later project and connected yet by the common arousing of the pathos, albeit in different distinctions of them speak once again of a magnificence that is innate to the creative faculties of Hazarika.

luck book
Source: Penguin India

The founder secretary of the North East Writer’s Forum established in 1997, Dhruba Hazarika’s exploits of the literary tend to be at least as distinguished- if not more- as his many a different dealings along the course of professional life. Writing however is precious to him so much that he does not entertain any idea of it even slightly diverting from the exclusive fore of a passionate pursuit. So much so that this buff of literature do not quite fancy literary festivals themselves- even when they tend to be not so commercial exploits of the art- at least not on paper.

Sceptical indeed about the ‘glamour’ of these very fancy sounding lit fests in such specific areas of concern that he fears would lead the author to often become “susceptible enough to believe that her identity as an accepted and recognised writer depends mostly on an invitation to such festivals.” Instead, his understanding of recognition as a writer himself is one rooted in the revered requisite of respect- such respect that the writer commands indeed by virtue of his work but also respect that the writer reserves for their own self, which in fact is a greater ploy in inculcating the virtue of staying honest. For a writer so honestly speaking of himself in his words, Dhruba Hazarika is someone to look up to in his every word and also in his actions.