Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"The Vulture" by Manoj Kumar Goswami 1992

Goswami was born in 1962 to Kamal Ch Goswami, a college teacher and Satradhikar, and Lakhimi Goswami in a small town in Goshwami  graduated from Nowgong College  and later did his post graduate studies in Physics in Gauhati University. Goswami taught physics for three years before he took up writing as a profession in 1986, in response to increasing terrorist activities associated with the Assam conflict.

Goswami published a series of short story collections, including IswarhinataSwadhinata,Samiran Barua Ahi Ase and Aluminumor Anguli as well as a single novel: Anadi Aru Annyana.He too has two sons called Anwit and Prannit.

Goswami's literary career was recognized with the Katha Award for Creative Fiction in 1994,and the Sanskriti Award for Literature in 1996. His works have been translated to other Indian languages and also to English by publications like Penguin.

To start his journalistic career Goswami joined Assamese daily newspaper Natun Dainik in 1986 under the editorship of Chandra Prasad Saikia and later became editor and executive editor of other newspapers in Assam. Goswami is currently the director of  a satellite television channel in North East India. Goswami was trained in USA on Media's Role in Conflict Resolution.



In order to understand this very well done short story, related to the terrible religious sectarian and ethic conflict that occurred in the Indian Subcontinent after the 1947  independence from England you have to see that in a way India has own internal colonies, one of them is the state of Assam which has long sought nation status.   India has a very problematic history in its treatment of tribal peoples.   This is made a lot worse when the tribal, some would use the word "aboriginal" societies, like the Assam, live on valuable lands.     To many Indians, tribal people are little more than backwards savage, just as the British viewed them.    (If you don't believe that India has waged wars on tribal peoples, I defer to Arundhati Roy on this.). "The Vulture" is about what happened to one small village when they got in the way of progress. 

As the story opens a village boy is telling his family that 

he has seen a car on the road on the other side of the river.  At first no one believes him.    They soon make a terrible discovery, the people in the vehicle are there to film the after effects of a terrible attack on the village, which the people think is the work of the "people from across the river".   The family is terribly distraught to see the dead bodies of people they have known all their lives. The question will come to the reader's mind of how did the film crew know this massacre was to occur, who tipped them? They have come a very long way to document this attack.  The people have been killed with spears, not guns.   As the crew wanders the village they talk about how Godard would have filmed the scenes.  The contrast of the world of the film people and the villagers is completely realized in just this brilliant touch.  The film director decides there are not enough bodies on the ground so he has an assistant who speaks the language of the residents, offer village boys token money to lay down among the bodies as if they were also dead.   As the story closes the assistant contemptuously throws the boys the lowest of coins.  The director says as they leave the area that the villagers should be thankful for what happens as now they have gone from total obscurity to a headline in all the newspapers.  

The  "The Vulture" is a very moving story about a world few know about.    


Please share some of your favorite Indian short stories with us.

It was translated by Jyotirmoy Chakravarte from Assamese. 

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