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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Miri Jiyori

Rajanikanta Bordoloi

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To purchase Miri Jiyori

Title: Miri Jiyori
Author: Rajanikanta Bordoloi
Genre: Novel
Written: 1894 (Eng. 2000)
Length: 62 pages
Original in: Assamese
Availability: Miri Jiyori - US
Miri Jiyori - UK
মিৰি জীয়ৰী - India
  • Assamese title: মিৰি জীয়ৰী
  • Translated by P. Kotoky

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Our Assessment:

B- : a bit thin and unevenly paced -- and Bordoloi too rarely runs with the story anywhere near as much as he could

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Miri Jiyori -- which translates roughly as 'The Miri Maiden' -- is set among the Miri (now known as Mishing) in India's Assam region. They are described as: "by nature reticent. They stick to their points rigidly", and it's this obstinacy that's behind some of the tragedy of this story.
       Miri Jiyori is a romance -- of sorts -- and begins with Jonki and Panei drawn to each other as children. Eventually they declare their love, but the orphaned Jonki realizes:

Your parents are unlikely to give you in marriage to me. I am all alone. I do not have any money either.
       In fact, when they discuss Panei's future Panei's mother, Nirama, doesn't think it would be such a bad idea: "We have no son. He will be a son to us." But Panei's father, Tamed, prefers another suitor, Komud, son of the local village chief. Of course, all these discussions occur without Panei's input:
    Nirama: "But I think it will be wise to discuss the matter with Panei before we finally decide."
    Tamed: "A strange thing to suggest ! Who ever heard of asking a daughter for her opinion before her marriage."
       And so, while Jonki goes to a near-by village to try to earn enough money to support the woman he loves, Komud is invited to move in and start serving as an "apprentice son-in-law". Because Panei: "never gave him any indulgence, and always kept herself aloof from him" that doesn't work out very well -- and Komud is increasingly the subject of ridicule in the village.
       Tamed isn't pleased and eventually has enough of his uppity daughter:
Enough of provoking words. To-night itself I shall hand you over to Komud by force. When he will violate you, you'll submit.
       Pretty shocking -- but it turns out to be little more than words: as on other occasions, Bordoloi beats a hasty retreat from any serious action, and: "his plan, as if by divine will, did not materialize."
       Panei runs away and is reunited with her true love, but they are eventually caught and it takes a while for things to get sorted out, culminating in a case that's brought before the local court. Even that doesn't settle everything to everyone's satisfaction, and Panei runs away again. Jonki does eventually catch up with her, but there's no happy end here: yes, "The love of Panei and Jonki led to terrible consequences." For once, in this tragic end, Bordoloi doesn't hold back (too much); the loving couple, nailed together at the palms (among other places), have only the ever-after to look forward to (not that Bordoloi goes there, either).
       Told with too many stops and jerks, Miri Jiyori reads like a poorly edited version of a much longer novel, compressed so tightly that much of its power has been squeezed from its pages. Bordoloi also seems to waver between what kind of morals he wants to offer: the idea that Panei should have a say in the choice of her partner seems a radical one for the time and place, and Tamed certainly learns his lesson, yet Bordoloi also treats his Miri-characters as exotic, and implies that one can't quite expect them to adhere to conventional custom. In outline it's a solid romance, but the narrative is woefully underwritten: one can imagine the scenes -- among others: of Komud living in the same house as Panei, but unable to make an impression on her; of Jonki and Panei's final days; of Dalimi, the girl who falls for Jonki but then, when she sees that his heart is completely spoken for, tries to help him and Panei like a true friend or sister -- but Bordoloi doesn't make nearly enough of so much of this material.
       Of some interest and appeal, but it could have been much more.

- M.A.Orthofer, 22 June 2010

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Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Assamese author Rajanikanta Bordoloi (ৰজনীকান্ত বৰদলৈ) lived 1867 to 1939.

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