Tag Archives: Indian literature

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Soso Tham and the Wisdom of Language

Tales of Darkness and Light: Soso Tham’s The Old Days of the Khasis is one of the least accessed titles in the Open Book online catalogue; there is not even a Wikipedia entry for Soso Tham (1873-1940), despite his being the most prolific Khasi-language poet ever to be set into writing. Such obscurity is not only the neglect of a sensitive North-Indian poet, who can hold his own in comparison with Keats, Wordsworth and Clare in the English canon; it is also emblematic of the suppression of eastern cultural practices by imperial western forces, as well as the forgetfulness of modern people of their ancient past. Soso Tham’s poetry seeks to reacquaint the Khasi people with their cultural and linguistic heritage, and assert pride in that inheritance against the voracious forces of colonial rule (under Britain until 1947) and modern suspicion of indigenous traditions. Janet Hujon’s (re)discovery of this distinctive and moving poet, is as much a personal communion between Khasi poets – Hujon is a Cambridge-based member of the Khasi community– as it is a communion across generations and estranged cultural discourses: Western and Eastern, urban and rural, modern and ancient. Continue reading