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Hiren Bhattacharjya
‘I am a Lover of Humanity’

An interview by The Sentinel

Mr Hiren Bhattacharjya is a well-loved and extremely popular Assamese poet of our time, whose body of work has contributed substantially to Assamese poetry. His ability to convey complex emotions through his writings and his direct communication with the readers through a remarkably lucid and simple style makes him one of the few popular poets of the contemporary Assamese literary world. Drawing positively from life, love and humanity, Mr Bhattacharjya is a man of rare vision, insight and intellect. Born in 1932 at Jorhat, Mr Bhattacharjya started writing poems at a very early age, with his first poem being published in 1957. His first anthology of poems, Mor Desh Mor Premor Kabita were published only in 1972. Bibhinna Dinar Kabita (1974), Kabitar Rode (1976) and Tomar Gaan (1976) followed, in what was perhaps his most prolific period. Hiru da, as he is popularly known, considers all his poems to be a part of the same poem, in continuum, reminiscent of the work of the American poet, Walt Whitman. Sugandhi Pokhila (selected poems, 1981) and Saichar Pathar Manuh (collected poems 1991) reaffirmed his poetic beliefs, even as he made his very unique contribution to Assamese literature with two collections of nursery rhymes in 1991 - Lora Dhemali and Akon Dhemali. Among the various honours that have been bestowed upon him, the more prominent ones are the Bishnu Rabha Award (1985), Soviet Desh Nehru Award (1987) and Sahitya Akademi Award (1992). Recently honoured with the Assam Valley Literary Award for the year 2000, Mr Bhattacharjya had spent more than an hour with The Sentinel in an exclusive interview and shared some of his thoughts and dreams. Here are some of the excerpts from the interview.

What makes a poet?

Poetry is a part of life. But it is hard to say how a person can become a poet. I do believe that a poet must experience the agonies and sufferings of a human being. After all, poetry is a reflection of life.

You mean that a poet has to experience sufferings and pain before he writes poetry?

Sufferings of a poet do not mean personal sufferings. A commited poet can never be self-contained - he has to look to society for inspiration. Life is the same everywhere, but awareness of life is always universal. In diverse regions of the world and in diverse circumstances and voices, poets have been singing hyms to this coming together of universal humanity.

What are your views on the present generation of Assamese poets?

Well, I do not want to comment because a particular poem is the experience of a particular poet. But I am worried about the present status of Assamese prose. Besides, there have not been any significant and quality Assamese prose work in recent times.

Do you think the present turmoil in Assam has considerably hampered the literary and creative works?

Yes, to some extent, this is true. The mind is so uneasy and weighed down by the violence and intolerance of the last two decades in Assam that no pleasure can lighten that burden. In spite of that, we must strive to bring good things to our life. We must not let society to be dictated by a handful of youths who have taken up arms toreach their 'goals'.

Hiren Bhattacharjya receiving the Assam Valley Literary Award, 2000, from Dr Raghuveer Chaudhari, on March 17, 2001. Photo Courtesy: The Assam Tribune.

Are you satisfied with your writings so far?

Well, frankly speaking, I do not consider myself to be a writer. I am a simple human being and if overwhelmed by the sufferings of my fellow beings , I produce a few lines (of poetry).

Do you look forward to awards or recognition?

A true award for a poet are his readers. Every thing else is merely ornamental. But ornaments too have a formal value. The sincere recognition accorded by an organization to the creative efforts of a writer too has its own worth.

You are known to be a very shy poet. Is it true?

I really do not know (laughs). But I try to be very simple and confine myself to my own world. Simplicity, according to me, makes life pleasurable. It is however very hard to become simple in this world full of complexities and intricacies.

Sir, is it true that every poet is a great lover?

Yes, a poet is a lover of humanity.

Do you consider love between a man and a woman as being too selfish?

Definitely not. When love sustains two souls, how can it be selfish?

Do you have any plans for the future?

I have a few dreams. I want to leave something worthwhile for society.

Do you have any message?

"I love you." That is my message.

Courtesy: The Sentinel

Read Hiren Bhattachajya’s poems.

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