This friend of mine asked me, sometime last year, if I was interested in accompanying them for a trek to a fort. I think it was Rajgad fort. Though I didn’t go, given the laziness I am (in)famous for, I did look up online about the history of the fort. It’s a very nice, scenic trek, and a fort of immense historic importance.
“This fort was also one of the 12 forts that Shivaji kept when he signed the Treaty of Purandar (1665) with the Rajput king Jai Singh in 1665 who was leading the Mughal forces. 22 other forts were handed over to the Mughals under this treaty.” [Source:Wikipedia]
As soon as I saw “Mughal”, an alarm went off- Lachit Borphukan. I think anyone with a little knowledge of history will know about Lachit; he had defeated the mighty Mughals near Guwahati, forcing them to retreat. Quite a hero! Then I read up more about Lachit’s history (a brush up, actually). And what a coincidence, around the same time, two other incidents surrounding Lachit Borphukan came up:
- Somebody shared online a photo of Lachit’s memorial present in National Defence Academy, Pune.
- Someone invited me for a book release in Pune. The book was authored in Marathi, titled “Lachit Borphukan: Assam chya Shivaji” (Meaning: Lachit Borphukan: The Shivaji of Assam. Sorry, I couldn’t dig out more information about that book at this moment.).
So, all these three things- The book, the image of the memorial, and the “R&D” about the fort happened around the same time. And once again, the average pseudo intellect in me kicked in. Though I never blurted out anywhere, I was, once again, deeply concerned about us, the Assamese community as a whole. For not respecting ourselves, for not giving proper value and respect to our heroes that they quite rightfully deserved. We’ll soon be a forgotten community otherwise; despite of all the rich heritage. I was high on thoughts, but soon time and beer sobered me up. These were worthless concerns. I even saw some intellects outraging massively on the Internet over calling Lachit as the Shivaji of Assam in that book; on comparing him with Shivaji, basically. But have they done anything for Lachit, compared to what the Maharashtrian people have done for Shivaji? ANYTHING at all? I did not get their point. I did not bother either. Then, in another context, I quoted one of the very famous dialogs of Lachit to an Assamese friend on the net. He very proudly said he didn’t know any of this. I thought, probably yes, I should shut up. I am being “too Assamese” perhaps.
I am not asking to blast people’s ears on every “Lachit Diwas” by playing some rowdy songs in probably a 1000 decibel. No. I am not asking to shout slogans and using him for political exploitation. No. But some basic things? Like, preserving his tomb? Can’t we even do that? Where are we heading to?
By the way, Lachit Borphukan’s tomb is in Jorhat, my home town. I had to Google for it.
You may also read: Lack of nationalism among Assamese decried (An article published in Assam Tribune, an English daily).