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Book Reviews

Book Launch of Temsula Ao’s “The Tombstone in My Garden” – A Personal Experience of the Inimitable Event

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By EMN Updated: Apr 11, 2022 10:15 pm
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By Wapangla Imchen

To put it in two opposite perspectives: people attend book launch events to experience the intimate connection with the writer that can be priceless. While others attend simply to be in the circle of intellectuals. Yet, to bluntly confess my first time experience at a book launch event, this was a memorable and exhilarating one. There can be no better way to spend the weekend than to attend the newly published short stories book launch of “The Tombstone in my Garden” by my most beloved Naga writer of all time, Padma Shri TemsulaAo. The day was 9th April 2022 and the place was at Shiro Roastery, Walford, Dimapur. The event was entirely organised and conducted by the writer’s family which was attended by the close kin and few external well-wishers. I consider myself lucky and blessed to be a part of this eventful day. There was no denying how the entire book launch, from the day to the venue and its ambience, to the micro intimate audience and the smell of coffee invoked the sense of ‘Hygge’ – the Danish word which means a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.

As written in the invitation, the entire book launch event was a short programme of prayers, song, readings and pitch perfect short speeches. It started soulfully with the Unity Choristers setting the warm tone and evoking the sense of the Divine presence. Anungla Zoe Longkumer, the daughter of TemsulaAo who orchestrated the entire event, crisply read two excerpts from the newly published book. One of the grandchildren also lovingly read her favourite passage from the book. The moderator of the event, Professor Jungmayangla Longkumer, another daughter of the writer in her opening, mentioned that the book launch was entirely a family affair and that the children refuse to take the back seat for such an event this time.

Having read Temsula Ao’s memoir “Once upon a Life” which portrayed her childhood struggles, I could completely empathise with the two relatives of the writer’s who emotionally deliberated the invocation and the closing prayer at the event. Book launches are celebrations of a writer’s journey and it can be an occasion for uplifting and elevating experiences. Precisely, the current DGP (Director General of Police) of Nagaland, T. John Longkumer (the only son of Temsula Ao) launched the beautiful book as a dutiful and devoted son would, after expressing an inspiring speech focusing on the support from the women in his life.

Sahitya Akademi Awardee, Temsula Ao in her short speech after the book launch gently reminded the audience how blessed she was to be where she is and expressed her gratitude for the day. Barring the usual exceptions, book launches are also to savour and relish the feel-good experience and that is exactly what this entire event brought upon. True to its form, I can mention vehemently that the book launch of “The Tombstone in my Garden” was also the celebration of Temsula Ao’s success as a mother who raised such a beautiful family which candidly can be witnessed from the closed knit coordination, support and success of the eventful day.

“The Tombstone in my Garden” is a collection of five sparse and poignant stories from Nagaland in which the writer holds up a mirror to the lives of every person behind the headlines. It is truly a book full of wisdom and lessons to learn as it gives a deep understanding not just of the human condition, but that of all life. To conclude, here is my favourite excerpt from one of the short stories in the book “Neither, but since we live in the same space, we do not need any language to communicate; we have learnt from nature that we need only its spirit to make us intelligible to each other. That is how our great grandfathers heard his warnings, whether it was enemies, wild animals or big thunder-storms. And that is why this tree has lived for so long and it will live longer than all humans because he is our protector.”

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By EMN Updated: Apr 11, 2022 10:15:38 pm