Burhi Aair Xadhu is a collection of short stories and folklores compiled by the famous Assamese author and poet Lakshminath Bezbaruah. This is the go-to text every Assamese parent used to rely on to make our childhood meaningful and interesting. This was and will be the most popular children fiction in Assamese and a must read for every little kid out there.
Lakshminath Bezbaruah was one of the literary stalwarts of the age of romanticism in Assamese literature. He started his literary career as a writer of farce, and was the pioneer of short story writer in Assam. He was conferred the title of Roxoraj ( the king of humor) in 1931 by Assam Sahitya Sabha because of his contributions to satirical writings. He is also known as Sahityarathi in the Assamese literary society, which meant “Charioteer of Literature “, because of his expertise in all branches of literature. He was a poet, novelist and playwright of modern Assamese literature with many noteworthy works in essays, plays, fiction, poetry and satires. The State Anthem “O mur apunar dexh” was composed by him.
Folklores are like stories or myths which centers around a community or society’s experience, and rooted in their traditional beliefs and culture. Folklores have been passed down orally over generations which subjects it to some alterations in the course of time. The 30 folklores included in the book are all interesting with a touch of magic and mystery. These folklores are basically stories which are quintessentially Assamese, with a strong moral idea or message behind them. Later these stories were collected by the author Lakshminath Bezbaruah from the natives and he compiled them into this book.
Among the 30 folklores, I thouroughly enjoy every single one be it Tejimola, Ou Kuwori, Xorobjan, Kukurikona, Champawati, Digholthengia, Lotkon, Tula aru Teja, Numoliya Pu, Gangatup or Tikhor aru Suti Bai etc. But Tejimola is, I believe, the most popular and loved one amongst all. It tells the poignant story of a young girl who was wrongly accused and mercilessly killed by her step mother when her real father was away for business. She is reborn in many different forms of nature and finally takes the form of a beautiful lotus flower. On his way back from business, her father’s eyes fall on this flower and when he tries to pluck it to gift to his loving daughter, the flower strangely reveals the real saga of Tejimola through a song:
Haat u nemelibi,
Phul u nisingibi
Moromor pitadeo oi
Paat kapuror logote,
Maahi aai e khundile
Tejimola he moi
And then the turn of events which follows is literally magic when Tejimola’s trapped soul returns to her human body. The step mother is punished for her evil doing and driven out of the home. The moral values of Tejimola is upholded and her goodness rewarded.
The themes or messages conveyed in all of these short stories are the core values we wish to imbibe in our kids from childhood. Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Kindness, Gratitude, Compassion, Charity etc. are the core values which are highlighted in these stories. Though the main characters suffer some pain but in the end the happy endings prove the importance and validation of these moral values.
The setting of these stories is the Utopian world we always dream of, where after all the evil and upheaval has passed, life becomes perfect. There’s always a hope which is the best part of all these stories, like no matter how much the characters suffer there’s always a perfect happy ending. And because of these happy endings with a powerful message “Burhi Aair Xadhu ” is the best in Assamese Children Fiction. Atleast for me, my childhood was magical because of this book. Each story touched my tender heart in a way I could almost empathize with the characters. My young self didn’t know then what this feeling was, but today I know how much of an impact these stories had on me. The values these characters upheld were all so dear to me that I could almost imagine myself as the lead characters like Tejimola. That’s the beauty and greatness of this book!
Burhi Aair Xadhu has been taken over by popular folklores from the west like Cinderella and Alice, and famous series like Harry Potter etc. Translations have been rendered but for some reason the acceptance is less compared to the contemporary western books. But nevertheless the charm of these Assamese folklores never fade. Efforts should be made by every parent to read out these heart touching stories to their kids along with the contemporary books, and they would definitely treasure these for life.