Madhurjya Dey

Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara

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My practice is invested in how personal and collective memories enmesh and complicate state and regional histories, particularly in the North Eastern region of India. I was born and raised in Haflong in the Dima Hasao district in Assam. Haflong, a small town (and the only) hill-station in Assam also forms the lens through which diverse narratives play out. I work with narrative storytelling, particularly devices of short prose, blank verse and open poetry, with oil painting and experimental sculptures. Employing an autobiographical format, personal accounts are fictionalised or multiple stories are patched together to form one multi-limbed narrative. 

This project is an extension of my last work, The Shepard Tone (2020). It is a hyperlinked fictional narrative, where the viewer can navigate through the plot on their own. The work is based on the letter sent to the protagonist by his brother.

In the year 1989, an individual sent a letter to his brother, who was banished to a remote section of Northeast India. The exchange of letters resulted from an incident that occurred in a fabric store two years back. No one in the family or in related circles talked about it. In the same year, the State Legislative Assembly passed the Nagaland Alcohol Prohibition Act. For this reason, all the licensed liquor manufacturing distilleries collapsed. All the workers were not natives, there were outsiders too. The protagonist of the narrative was a store-house manager at one distillery there. He was an outsider. His newly found shelter was in jeopardy again, like his last one. The locals of his native land banished him for a lifetime where he lived for thirty-years. He struggled with his mental health and the grief of staying away from his family. Letters bridged the distance. 

This work (A migratory hostage) is based on the reply by the protagonist to the received letter.