Maithili language and literature has been culminating through a long walk in history until it started to find a new genre of literature in mid part of last century. Uprightly that could be memorized as next golden phase after the great Jyotireshwar Thakur-Vidyapati age; the factor of overlooking some more remarkable phase of achievements are the exuberant manifestations from that new literary generation which was unlikely to preceded in near past.
Looking back to that generation and recalling giants like Baidyanath Mishra”Yatri” (Nagarjun), Harimohan Jha, Lalit, Dhumketu, Fanishwar Nath”Renu”could be very solacing for literary enthusiasts which would be grew more exulting by shout of praise for foremost among them, Rajkamal Chaudhary. He was a stock genius who accepted niche role to beguiling Maithili literature to a new posture which was dragging previously and largely failing to extrapolate the numerous unconventional approaching problems from changing social dynamics. Rajkamal Chaudhary was a doyen of Maithili literature and even one among Indian literature albeit if the barrier of language could be bursted, then of course his work is worth of universal claim with myriad of universal concern it entrusted.
Rajkamal Chaudhary undoubtedly has most prolific presence in the sunnyside of Maithili literature along with quite symmetric resemblances from his name. His family members deserves utmost credit for tracing the jewels like quality in an infantile and naming such meticulously as Rajkamal, Manindra, Phulbabu (Traditional Maithili call name for loving one)much before his attainment to scholarship and fame. As par with contemporary trend Rajkamal Chaudhary was also born at his maternal place in Rampur haveli in east Mithila (North Bihar) on 13th December 1929; although his ancestral village was Mahishi in Saharsa district that is world famed for its scholastic tradition. Rajkamal’s early childhood was spent in his village but later he moved with his father, who was a Sanskrit teacher in middle Bihar’s town Gaya; he passed matriculation with high distinction from there.
Further phase of his life was full with experiments and wandering albeit finally he passed B.Com from prestigious Patna University; meanwhile he also married with Sashikanta Chaudhary in Chanpura village (In present Madhubani district) .Through his sharp instinct and voracious learning, he proceeded much above from his academic and professional achievements since he never conquered a suitable institutional position for himself. Reasons might be his immaterial nature and particularly his short life span that led to fiendish eventuality. However that couldn’t extrude Rajkamal to write a new chapter in literary history and force to expurgate the existing maladies in Maithil society with superb universal connotations.
In his literary voyage, he was a man of letters with amazing farsightedness; hence he aspired and succeeds in three major domain of literary expressions like, novel, story and poetry. Comparatively prose was his major thirst, despite this he penned numbers of poetry in both Maithili and Hindi language albeit many of them failed to appear in physical shape. In spite of concealment, we are presently capable to clasp his six collection of poems, namely as Kankavati, Audit Report, Mukti Prasang, Vichitra, Sargandha and Macchli Jall and many more may be in future if proper strive would be made to retrieve it. Rajkamal was a promising creationist who barely allowed any frills to enter in his literary productions; likewise his poetry reveals it and its epithet which consisting utmost sensuality with diverse humane plights sounds in immaculate manner.
It would be quite imperative here to recall that Rajkamal Chaudhary had conceived the conceited view about his Maithil identity and he never stepped down to derive metaphors for his creative vision from his native milieu. There were many reasons to postulate such affection for strife ridden Mithila through expounding the contemporary harsh realities in its territory and even in entire country. That was the phase of chaos at many fronts like, political, social, economical, ethical etc... Disillusionment was quite rampant from newly earned democracy which started to gloom and force an entire young generation especially of its intelligentsias towards unrest. Quite naturally Rajkamal was too much integrated with that intellectual class who used to keep eagle watch on worldwide movements and persuade to modify the faulty axioms.
Rajkamal had unbeaten the criticism for his daring and unconventional stand throughout in his life time that indeed seemed awes trucking. He was an astute visionary in Indian literary community who pronounced inner contradiction of humane mind as catalyst for all external complexities of social relationships; further he emphasize on western way of psychoanalysis and enviously drew inferences from Sigmund Freud to unleash the hidden as well as rudimentary conceived sinful relationships. At both personnel and creative level he has been up fronting with elegiac concern for harsh realities besides enjoined with intention to solve the persisting maladies; further he kept his vehement opposition to the nexus of its causes like, feudalism, poverty, floods, sinful eliticism, improper matrimony, male chauvinism, jealousness, personifications etc.
He poignantly followed and tried to curb its ramifications through his novels in Hindi; “Machhli Mari Hui” and “Taash Ke Pattoon Ka Sahar” are foremost among them, which try to contempt on fabrication of immoralities and illicit relationships within the elitist circle. Both his novels were instinctively close to Aldus Huxley’s “Brave new World” and George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four”, hence at first moment, that couldn’t desirably vindicate albeit it remains open for ”re-reading” as Jacques Derida suggest to find new meaning out of every fresh reading exercise. His rest novels in Hindi (“Nadi Bahti Thi”, “Sahar Tha Sahar Nahi Tha”, “Agni snan”, “Aadikatha”, “Bis Ranion ke Bioscope”, “Dehgatha( Suno Brijrani), “Ek Anar Ek Bimar” are also similarly resembled the concerns. “Andolan” was his lone novel in Maithili that was based on Maithili’s language movement in the city of Calcutta; it also marked his own involvement in the movement to raise the concern for Mithila region.
He was among the finest story teller of his generation and an iconic figure for succeeding literary generations. It is truly amazing to see the huge number of stories in both Maithili and Hindi; he managed apart from many plays and hundreds of essays in such short span of time. His commitment was worth of extolation since his literary deliberations never extricated from its goal and proceeded in felicitous manner; indeed he had importunate response for fetishism in action and thought. Some Maithili stories of Rajkamal Chaudhary are very essential to capitulate the deeper understanding of his works.
His first published story “Aprajita (Vaidehi, October1954)”, presents subtle account of perennial natural tragedy of Mithila (floods) and its repercussions on human lives through a desperate train journey; “Andhakar (Vaidehi/ May1953)”, tells on contradictory relationship under the shadow of religion, partition and sin.“Phulparaswali (Vaidehi/August1955) could be remembered as his magnum opus which illuminates the moral strength of Maithil women in even distressed phage. Rajkamal reached to his zenith through depicting Rickshaw puller protagonist, Shadashiv as his cousin and woven a very meticulous set of relationships among them with centralizing the presence of Phulparaswali, symbolizes Mithila’s ethical virtue. “Lalka pag (Vaidehi / Katha Visheshank1955), which also had its dramatic revelation, reveals untold moral victory of first wife over heart wrenching male chauvinism ended with one sided sacrifice of Mithila’s women.
“Kirtaniya (Vadehi/January1956)”, sketches the life of beggars; “Kopad (Vaidehi/May1956)”,ended with progressive ideas of inter caste marriage; “Damyantiharan (Vaidehi/July1956),” comes with a story of conditionally deprived family indulged in flesh trade for survival which strike with similar delineation of east Bengal’s refugees plights in Ritwik Ghatak’s cinema like “Bari Theke Paliye”. “Channar Das (Vaidehi/September1956)”,told the incarnation of a beggar’s pair for new life out from their existing profession; “Kiranmayee(Rachna Sangrah/1956-First all India Maithili literary conference)”, narrates the premature widowhood, sacrifice and many empathies for their plight but inability to materialize in absence of proper resources.
“Satti Dhanukain (Pallavi/May1957)”, depicts the betrayal of husband with a commuted wife; “Kharid- Bikri (Pallav/June1957)”, raised the concern for immorality of perception with a wretched women affected by the partitions. “Babu Sahebak Tik (Vaidehi/July1957)”, witnessed the metamorphosis of a falling feudal amidst the market pressure and leverages of city life; “Sahastra-Menka( Mithila Darshan/Visheshank1957)”,reveals the ill social treatment with helpless widows and wretched of Mithila.“Mugdha-Vimugdha( Pallav/March1958)”,lights on debacle of unmatched marriage,” Mallhak Tol: Ek Chitra(Vaidehi/August1958)”,concerned with the plight of Mallah(fishermen) community who possess an ingredient place in Mithila’s fish crazy society, in very short space he became successful to capture their actual reality. “Yatrak Aant (Mithial Darshan1958)”, leads to a scenario of impoverished socio-economic structure of Calcutta in which a helpless parent caught in severe daily struggle to save their ill son and dignity of daughter in law.
“Kamalmukhi Kaniyan(Kathaparag collection1958)”,candidly attacks on pseudo perception of dominant male community over the decent albeit feeble Maithil women’s, it’s a forward attack on male chauvinism. “Aakash-Ganga(Mithila Darshan/Visheshank1959)”,is an account of a falling feudal father and his relationship with estranged daughter who gone away for a matrimonial ties against of his wishes, story concludes with his proactive and judicious move which also marks the inception of flexibility in feudal structure. “Kadambari Upkatha (Vaidehi/March1960)”, has frank bearing of humanity by a childless widow who crossed all the artificial boundaries of caste, opportunism, jealousness etc; “Panidubbi(Mithila Mihir/10th May1964)”,reflects the inner state of a newly wedded women during her first journey on steamer, she simply lost in her circle of belongingness that recalls the closed nature of contemporary Maithil feminism.
“Surma Sagun Bichare Na(Mithila Mihir/9th May1965)”,is moving around the infatuation for bereaved wife that seems like a dutiful sacrifice and also transcend his honest deeds in all relationships; “Ghari(Mithial Mihir/30th January1966)”,tells the romance in inter religious web which eventually conclude with the interference of domestic compulsions. ”Maach (Mithila Mihir/30th January1966)”, is a spectacular delineation of craze for auspicious fish among Maithil’s,this story is loaded with heavy symbolism and sophisticated representation of Maithil life philosophy before a cross cultural debate.”Sanjhak Gaach(Mithila Mihir/13th March1966)”,has stuffed with the gloomy inferences from its protagonist who caught in wrenched contradiction about his prospective role with belongingness, accidental death of his sister in law leads to an in-depth synthesis of someone’s helplessness.
“Samudra(Mithila Mihir/11th September 1966), presents confrontation of female protagonist with the wider concern for her existential being…it’s a saga of unmatched matrimony;”Param Priya Nirmohi Balam Hammar Pranpati(Mithila Mihir/30th October1966)”,is consists with a marathon letter of newly wedded wife to her husband about their expectation and mixed fortune ended through overt numerous account. It was characteristics of Rajkamal Chaudhary to present a serious theme in satirical way… indeed he was an accomplished user of satire. ”Kichho Alikhit Patra(Maithili Darshan)”,written with the pseudo name of Anamica Chaudhary in extraordinary and candid craft to expose the plights of subjugated women’s of Mithila,it’s an ultimate height of fiction.”Gamme Rati Rati Me Gam (Bharti Mandan)”, virtually breaking the illusion from villages, he found same sinful habitual practices in villages as they frequent in urban spaces. ”Bahindai,Aspatal,Bangam Aa Kono Ekta Sapna(Mithila Mihir/30th April1967)”,narrates the story of Bahindai,a young widow faces a new proposal of material life but remained undetermined…an another jolt on unmatched matrimony that create such plot.
”Ekta Champakali Ekta Vishdhar(Mithila Mihir/15th June1975)”,appeared posthumously which reached behind the real cause of improper marriages…involvement of lust remains the utmost cause of females misfortune in Mithila. Somehow list became longer but his contribution is so sacrosanct that it’s very difficult to leave one piece of literature for another. In his very short life span, he did exemplary job through his creative means to express his deep concern with desperate elements of Maithil society. Indeed his initiative was epoch making especially the manners in which he visualized the complex cognition of human mind and their ambiguous outcomes like, improper marriages, sinful relationships etc. His concern was broad, so he canvassed them in same dedication with punishing hardship on personnel front albeit nature shaped its cruel verdict for this epoch maker. Its eventuality was his untimely departure from this mortal world on 7th June1967 at Rajendra surgical ward, Patna Medical College and Hospital. Rajkamal or Phool Babu too loved among his folks, his premature demise with combating deadly disease left deep strain among entire literary circle in Mithila and even in whole country. But even after four decades he is yet to have the place he deserves …his contribution is great and comparable to the great works of Premchand, Muktibodh, Sharat Chand Chattopadhyaya, Moppsant (Spainish), Loo Soon (Chinese); his work is highly eligible for exposition before the larger masses, which would be the real homage for him.
Baidyanath Mishra”Yatri”(Nagarjun),was dejected through passing of his loving successor Rajkamal, commemorated a poem in his fond memory that best reflects the contention of void after Rajkamal’s missing from scene…crux is, there could be and was only one Phool Babu in Mithila, we may have to wait for generation to fill his position. Those who acquainted him personally, still recalls his generosity and involvement in community life…indeed he was intended to lift rural life out of chaos; so, despite possessing elite qualities he chosen to represent bottom of pyramids. His works more than introductions reveals his geniusity much better.
Atul Kumar Thakur
4th October2009, New Delhi