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Ms. Mitali Phukan (born 15-08-1975) is Director Hopeline NGO, Free Lancer and short-story writer of repute. She has to her credit 3 books of fiction, one book of poetry and two books of prose.  Her notable books are  (i) Aaidew ( a biographical novel about first silver screen heroin in Assamse film. This book written in Assamese & already translated into Bengali & Hindi. Aaidew also selected to 'Frankfort Book Fair 07' from Assam. She is recipient of Nirupama Baruah Award 1994 (All Assam Lekhika Samaroh). She participated in Media Initiative combating Human Trafficking International Conference as a writer. Organised by Unifem 21 Sepptember 2004-Delhi)

Contact : c/o Mr. Harendranath Dutta, Kushal Nagar, P. O. Dholorsatra, Jail Road, Distt. Jorhat - 785 001 (Assam)
Phone : +
98543-57553,   Email


a shor-story
by Ms. Mitali Phukon

Sleep came to me in a hazy shimmer, when that sound reached my ears again. I got annoyed. To get rid of that sound I shook my bed. But it was in vain. And the sound increased its pitch and velocity. The ‘ghun’* which has housed itself somewhere in my bed retaliated in a away similar to a dog’s snarling and growling when disturbed during sleep. I tried many a time to find the ‘ghun’ which had propelled itself forward through a small hole in my bed. But that creature seemed intend on not seeing me happy. It makes me get irritated and short tempered with it’s continuous and course note which can be heard sometimes from my bed , sometimes from the wooden table or sometimes from the bookselves which were kept in the open. If it had been those undisciplined, disobedient students from my college ,I would have reprimanded them in such a way that they would remember Ms.Suchibrata Borgohign from the English deparment.for their whole life. I am ready to face show cause notice from the principal too for that matter. But, where can I find this ‘ghun’? I have obtained the droppings of this creature I have never seen as clues. I dust out the droppings every morning and I find them under the bed , under the table and under the bookshelf while cleaning my house. May be after causing unrest to me during the night it slept peacefully during the day. I have never heard that sound during daytime.

At one time the sound stopped due to its self-will. But by now I was wide-awake.
I looked at the wall clock, which showed ten minutes to two. It was nearly mid-night. Outside it was stark moon-light. The moon-light shone through my ventilator. My spirits lifted when I saw the soft downy beams of moonlight filter into my room. I felt a thrill of romance and could not sleep at this age too, when I am on the verge of retirement. I softly opened the window near my bed. A silver of moonlight felt on my bed through the gap between the curtains. My bed is usually by the window. So that I can enjoy the pleasure of nature , such as , sunshine, rain or moon-light according to my will. Thus, I can remain as myself. I did not get to remain as myself for most of the time in my life. I never realized, how time passed by, from my childhood till I grew up. I even forgot that, I have to do something to introduce myself as a worthy human being. I was moulded according to others’ will . After passing my matriculation, others’ decided for me , which stream I should go, science or arts . I got married while appearing for M.A. in English. Got widowed after a year My later life was spent hastily with my son who was the center-point of life . Now he was grown up ,got married , has an apartment in Delhi,which enabled me to remain as ‘me’ . The habit of creative writing has once again awakened inside me. I have got four books published to my credit . I also write regularly in a daily newspaper. I have collected various books –Native and foreign –and have built up the habit of reading , for my eagerness of writing .I have displayed my collections from Bezbaruah to Jyoty-Bishnu , from Sharatchandra to “Jonaki” and “Arunudoi” etc. in my room . All of them are displayed on the book-shelf near the head of the bed, on the small table-near the foot of the bed and in the drawing room. So that, people may know at a glance that Suchibrata Borgohain does enough reading. I am suffering from ‘Bibliomania’ like most of the sophisticated people. I have got self-pride as an author. I proudly let my colleagues know about my knowledge right from Tolstoy, Hemingway to Salaman Rushsdie’s latest release. I, a way similar to my colleague Ms. Kazari Mahanta’s account of her children’s inability to read Assamese and obtaining amusement by reading Harry potter series.

I tried to complete my half-written story. I had nearly forgotten the plot of the story which I had started a week ago. I recollected that the plot was about a helpless, young widow, after a read. I thought about myself life as a widow was full of pain. She has to to all the reprimands from the people of the society as well as the family. As if the life-line of the husband lies on the wife’s luck. The wife is said to be unlucky though the husband is prey to some illness or some other fatal misfortune. The girl is said to be the culprit even though she might wear “Sindoor” in her husband’s name for only one day. She is being treated like a criminal. The cause of the ill fate of her husband is supposed to be the almost-a-stranger they have for a daughter-in-law from the point of view of the society, even though, she has not yet stood trial in a witness- box of criminal court. People find faults with everything-the way she lives. Overall, widow life is a hellish experience if by misfortune one happens to be widowed at an early age. I barely wrote two lines when my mood evaporated with the sound of rats scurrying about in the next room. They seem to be preparing for some festive occasion. They were not aware that in this house-in this room- the rightful owner of the house Ms. Suchibrata Borgohain-was sitting. For a couple of moments I listen to the noise they made by scurrying about. The noise raised its pitch and velocity like the ‘ghun’. I was reminded of the unforgettable words by my colleague Mr. Bhabananda Chaliha- -“Don’t you feel bad about living in that house ? How much time will you pass by chasing away the rats and cockroaches ? Nowadays people find life partners to get rid of loneliness in their old age. Many are living together. People from cities like Delhi, Mumbai and even some people from Assam have accepted this culture from the west. What is life? Every moment of it should be enjoyed. We only need joy and peace. Forget about the society and it’s members. No body will look after you. Your son living in Delhi can’t come running if something happens. So you …………” I stopped him before he could say anything more. Even though I gave him a long speech of gratitude for thinking of my welfare. But like the ‘ghun’ his word have propelled itself forward and has lodged itself in my heart. I have spent countless and sleepless nights on accounts of those sentences. What does he know about the contented way I feel about living alone. At my will I listen to music, do some gardening, write stories and try to write a poem. I visit my son at Delhi if time and circumstances permit to do so, play with my grandsons. I sit under the clear sky with them and tell them stories from “Grandma”s tale’ if I get the chance. I teach them “ O mor Aponer Desh”- by Lakhshminath Bezboroah. I try to make them relish the taste of ‘Aloo Pitika’,’ ‘Kharali’ ‘kachu’, ‘dhekia’ “etc, I try to make them listen to the music of Jyotiprased, Bishnuprasad and Bhupen Hazarika. I try to make them acquainted with Assam and its culture by teaching them Assamese idioms ,proverbs and phrases. I’ve obtained these little joys at my own will. I never feel lonely. I go to Sahitya sabha, poet’s meet etc. If I wish to. Sometimes, I get the chance to meet famous writers or poets. I discuss various topics with like-minded people. Sometimes I get disheartened when I find the people whom I request from a distance are not all that marvelous when I get to know them closely .The children and grandchildren of the honorable speakers at the meeting do not know to read Assamese as they have studied in English medium institutions. They do not recognize Bezbaruah’s name, nor do they recognize the popular Assamese magazines ‘Prantik’ and ‘Gariashi’ . They get flustered while searching for English comics and magazines in the “Book Fair”. They get absorbed in the ‘Harry potter’ books. Yet they do not know about the ‘Panchatantra Tales’ ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Grandma’s Tale’ etc. and they are not even eager to read it. That is why I do not feel happy or moved by the speeches given by the speakers. Sometimes, I feel that “the insides of beauty is hollow”, made by ‘ghun’. Just like my bed. The present sorry state of my bed with hardly the passage of ten years is due to the ‘C’ class wood the mason put in place of the ‘A’ class one . The outer appearance is varnished and looks beautiful. But ghun have housed itself inside. Can not even sleep peacefully at night. I am forced to wake-up due to the harsh note. Sometimes I feel like, I have gained shelter in someone else’s occupied land. Sometimes , I feel like, I have taken shelter in someone’s ancestral property, loosing everything of my own in the flood. Without saying names it seems like the harsh note is reprimanding me, scolding me.
After writing a couple of lines .I put the story aside owing to the scurrying noise of the rats. I took hold of a stick from the corner of the room , intent on chasing the rats away and I barely let myself in through the door in the next room , they got scared and run away . I felt my spirits lift in a moment, at least, they gave me that much respect. I felt happier still when my eyes rested on those two racks filled with books. They stood like, as if , to give me companionship . I did not get time to tidy up books for a long time. My daughter –in-law had tidied and dusted them six months ago. My latest published novel was lying among them . I have a deep faith and hope in this book which is based on my life . I spent many a sleepless night , wept a lot , remembering the tedious experience of my life , always cherishing a hope and wrote each word and each line very carefully in order to write this 500 pg. novel . Quite a few critics have pointed out this matter after publication. There has been a lot of buzz and discussion about this book in meetings . I am feeling encouraged by some of the remarks. My boat of hard work has finally reached
the shore of success .Some of the officials of some literary organizations have told me in a hush that “ this year ….award should go to you We are trying out best to get your novel this organization .” Ah! I am indeed very lucky to hear such words. I never had any enthusiasm for awards, but at this age I have got a secret desire for them. I want some sort of title or award as an author .The inner ‘me’ is wishing for an award with every bit of her heart and soul, even though I have not expressed it to anyone. I wanted to read my novel, my hope and faith, which was lying among the other books in the shelf, and as I reached for it, all the books came tumbling down like a castle of cards. I stifled a scream and sat down leaning against the wall. The pages of the book that bore my faith and hope like a torch, were wounded by tiny termites along with other 15-20 books. The book was ruined by the termites so much so, that when I opened it, the last intact remains of the pages crumbled before my very eyes, as flesh crumbles from decaying dead body. The termites had succeeded in insulting me. My chest felt constricted with some inexpressible pain. The through mutilation of my book meant that ‘I’_ Suchibrata Borgohain , was thoroughly mutilated with nothing left . An ordinary insect was able to make ‘me’ _a person who has never admitted defeat before _feel weak. I admitted secretly and spontaneously for the first time before the termite which had housed itself inside my heart, that “I am lonely .” _yes ! “I am very lonely.”

*’Ghun’ : Small destructive insects that bores through timber particularly dry one.

Transalated by- Jennifer Hussain


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