Syed Abdul Malik is not a name that one would undertake a lot of trouble to know about, provided the person has a curiosity or taste for Axomiya literature, however, minute it may be.
Neither he is someone for whom a layman would take refuge in the limited know-how of a seller who sits in the counter of a bookstall in Panbazaar on whom a question in the lines of ‘Are any Abdul Malik books available?’ would be propelled upon.
His magnum opus’ like ‘Aghari Atmar Kahini’ (The Tale of Nomadic Soul) or the classic biographical novel titled ‘Dhanya Nara Tanu Bhal’ on the life of Srimanta Sankardeva stands popular, relevant, and well-received even in current times.
Though the crux and the content of any book, in general, are for the reader to unravel and feast upon, the prologues and the forewords hold a special connection with the reader.
They are short and brief, written in an informal tone, and carry uncountable human emotions – things that a readers’ senses will touch upon at the very beginning, either during a rigorous read or lousy book foreplay or both alike.
Syed Abdul Malik authored a novel titled ‘Nol Birina Khagori’, which was first published by a press in Jorhat in the year 1973. The prologue of the novel is a beautiful write-up dedicated to Nabakanta Baruah, which holds in itself a sense of poetic expression and courtesy of literary comradeship.
The prologue goes as –
In the hands of,
This is no flower, neither a star and nor a melody. It’s just ordinary grass – nol (giant reed), bring (cuscus grass), and khagori (common reed).
Nol reeds grow up to a height and then die, except a few saplings germinating from beneath.
Birina – thanks to Bihu songs for immortalizing them. Else, what utility do you see?
And Khagori – for in the past, there might exist a scribe who would dip his Khagori nip into a pipkin full of ink and thereupon on a blank Saanchipaat, write sonnets, or maybe bits of romance.
Today, none values Khagori, nor it gravitates any demand. The question of its utility doesn’t even arise here.
And hereby, I hand over these Nol, Birina, Khagori to you, to Nabakanta Baruah who brews his tea upon the burning branches of Bodhidrum – the tree of enlightenment serves as his firewood, he who narrates the untold stories of the valley of Kopili.
I know you wouldn’t mind, but how would I be sure of the same?
I understand you’re a poet, and you don’t expect swollen trees to host a grapevine, and also, at the very same time, you don’t expect poetries to leak from the pen of Malik, who wanders only across arid proses made up of arid dunes. Here, this is my only validation.
For long, I did calculate to dedicate a compilation of poetry to you, but that is a fantasy that now sleeps in its grave. Poetries refrained from coming through my pen, and still, they don’t.
Expecting Reena, Aainu, and Junuka to have a good dosage of laughter when they find out that all that I have sent for you comprise of nothing but mere not, bring, and khagori reeds. I even fail to speculate how you shall perceive this.
You can long for a full moon for you know it will happen,
but do fireflies ever have a moonlight night, or do even they plan for one?
Naharani Gaon, 14th Shravan, 1973.
[End of Prologue]
[Prologue self-translated by the author.]
This prologue holds how one literary genius conversed with another contemporary doyen back in the times when modern-day sophistication didn’t seep by – the use of literary metaphors, lukewarm sarcasm, and most importantly, a tone of humble courteousness brings us to the conclusion that a breeze of deep understanding and mutual respect blew without any halt.
The doyens stood firm like tall grown reeds, swaying here and there, admiring each other. It was a world bereft of myopic human-made controversies.