The various Bihar at Jamia
The Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), organized an Extension Lecture by Abhay K on “The Various Bihar!”. This was the first offline Extension Lecture organized in the year. Abhay K is a poet, diplomat, editor and translator, with over a dozen books of poetry including Monsoon (Sahitya Akademi). His latest book is The Book of Bihari Literature by Harper Collins India. He is a recipient of SAARC Literature Award 2013.
Abhay K’s The Book of Bihari Literature, is a brilliant compendium of delightful and valuable stories, poetry and essays, in languages as plural as Bihar itself.
Although this collection is only a tableau of the plethora of literature from Bihar, yet it is an exceptional, unparalleled, and unprecedented endeavour to include not only the writings from the Bihari diaspora but also the texts that were presumably inaccessible, written in various languages such as Urdu, Farsi, Sanskrit, and English but especially in those that are indigenous to Bihar such as Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithli and Pali. Many texts in the book have been translated and published for the first time ever.
The collection includes texts from many well known and award winning writers such as Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Tabish Khair and Abdus Samad, and also lesser-known writers such as Heera Dom.
Abhay K. began the talk by reading out his poem that he wrote in 2020 while attempting to write a ghazal in Magahi, “Surprised to learn that there is no written poem in Magahi, / I run here and there, then sit down to write a poem in Magahi…At home I hear my mother say her prayers in Magahi, / hamar betake buddhi dehu bhagwan, he wants to write a poem in Magahi.”
And then he moved on to reading a few poems such as those by Sumangalamata and Mutta, and discussions on other texts. The talk ended on a contemplating note with him reciting his poem The Rise of Nalanda, a poem about the repercussions of the end of universities.
There was an electrifying round of discussions on Bihar, its cultural prestige and the identity of being a Bihari. The question and answer session was as enriching as the talk by Abhay K. Faculty members as well as students asked engaging as well as insightful questions.