This book is written in the background of a tumultuous period in the history of my state, Assam. Situated in the two valleys of the Brahmaputra and the Barak rivers, the state is surrounded by hills in the north, the north-east in the south. In the west, its border touches Tripura and Bangladesh. The Borail range has divided the state into clear cut parts, the Brahmaputra basin and the Barak basin. Many ethnic, linguistic, religious and racial groups live in this land of verdant green and undulating valleys, tall hills and mighty rivers. Like the land, people here are also of volatile temperament, fiercely independent, and suspicious of immigrants and outside settlers. This has caused unrest and violence amongst the communities and groups and against the established order since history began.
After the country got independence, first Nagaland then Mizoram and Manipur and finally Assam sought to separate from the newly independent political entity called India. The vanguards of the rebellion were the youths of the day. Groups after groups of rebels and insurgents made the whole region a hot bed of armed extremist activities. The state responded with force and guile. In seventy long years of struggle, thousands perished. Taking advantage of the situation some became rich and grabbed political power in various guises.
The story of ‘Once Upon a Time in Guwahati’ reflects a small part of that scenario. I thank my translator and publisher for the love and care with which they handled the book. I dedicate it to all the people who dream of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity even in the face of imminent death and destruction. I leave it to my readers to judge its merits.