Saikh Md Sabah-Ahmed
Human beings are emotional by nature. More often than not, they are swayed by emotions, and sometimes by whims and fancies. Sangeeta Saikia Pathak's Butterflies, Love and The Rains is a dappled garland of sixteen short stories woven around such human emotions. Presently engaged as a state government employee, the author is a postgraduate in English Literature from Tezpur Central University, and also holds a Diploma in Journalism from Cotton University. This apart, recently in 2021, her short story collection Butterflies, Love and The Rains received a Certificate of Honourable Mention from the selection committee India's Next Big Writer (INBW). She has also received a certificate for outstanding performance in the Hashtag Poetry & Creative Writing Competition, 2021 and was one amongst the top 100 across the country. She also dabbles in verse-making, and Soulful Musings happens to be her debut poetry collection.
This beautiful short story is a reflection of the various phases in a woman's life and the emotions attached to it right from being a lover, a wife, a mother and finally a grandmother. It's a commonly accepted fact that women are the repository of Indian traditions and customs, and has, therefore, enough social responsibilities to shoulder for the formation of a society. So right from childbirth, till rearing a child, women have to play manifold roles. The future of a nation is very much dependent on the womanhood of that nation.
Set against the backdrop of the state of Assam, this book also echoes the Assamese ethos, traditions and culture through references to the three Bihus of Assam, the Bihu Husori, the statue of Lachit Barphukan, the Saraighat Bridge over the river Brahmaputra, the Kamakhya temple, the Kaziranga National Park, the lush green tea gardens, the songs of Dr Bhupen Hazarika, Lokageet, Rabhageet, singer Zubin Garg and the relevance of the traditional gamosa. The uniqueness of the book is that one can get a rich flavour or aroma of the state of Assam through the various stories. On being asked as to what inspired her to write, Sangeeta says: "While in college, I had come across two such short story collections – Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra reflecting the lives of the people of the busy city of Mumbai, and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri that spoke about the Anglo-Bengali culture of the Bengali-American immigrants. Back then, these two books had inspired me to bring about such a collection based on the Assamese way of life".
Published by Zorba Books, Gurgaon, this short story collection has a total of sixteen stories, spread over 103 pages, and it took Sangeeta around a year's time to finish the book. Perhaps the most heart-warming fact about this short story collection is the fact that the stories are so relatable, and so close to life. Each story reflects like a mirror some human emotion or the other, and that too with a local ambiance, setting, ethos and folklore to give the reader 'a closer to home feel'.