DEU-LANGKHUI,an epoch-making novel from its various aspects, has already occupied a great place in the area of contemporary Assamese literature. To say the truth, it is a genuine history book, which has unveiled some important aspects (specially about the Tiwa tribe). Not only aspects, but also a series of customs and faith about the then contemporary society, with reference to the Gova kingdom and the kingdom of Pratapsingha.
It is a novel which can be read with different motives. Regarding this characteristic, it resembles John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (one among the three best allegorical poems in the world), which is enjoyed by children for its fantasy, by the young for its exuberance, and by adults for its true allegorical effects. In this way, Reeta Choudhury’s Deu-Langkhui is a novel which can be read as a fantastic story of Jongal Balahu, Arimatta, Gangawati, Chandraprobha and many other characters, while on the other hand, it can also be read as a historical novel or as a realistic picture of an unfortunate woman.
Though this novel is based on historical evidence, which has revealed some information about the Tiwa tribe, actually it is a novel depicting the life-struggle of a woman of royal lineage, whose name is Chandraprabha, queen of Pratapsingha. She was banished by him to the Gova kingdom for she made merry with the Gova king in the Jonbeel Mela. Through this, Pratapsingha shows his authoritarian side, while on the other hand, the Gova king reveals his chivalry by accepting Chandraprabha as one of the members of his kingdom. Here, the writer has expressed the noble quality of the Gova king. In the Gova kingdom, Chandraprabha makes herself familiar with the customs of the people, and she even changes her former identity. Now, she is known as a konchari, a Tiwa woman. It expresses her strength that a woman may also become courageous, if the situation so demands. It reveals her rebellion against the dominance of males over females. One of the most noticeable aspects of the novel is that it has broken a coventional idea that a king always hankers after beautiful women. The Gova king does a noble deed by giving shelter to Chandraprabha, not on his bed, but in the temple of his mind as a Goddess. He is an exceptional character in the novel who has boundless respect for woman. On the other hand, Pratapsingha reveals his lewdness towards women. For him, beauty is all. He wanted to suppress his wife through beauty and sex. Pratapsingha was an an exploiter and not a priest of beauty. He banished Chandraprabha when she expressed herself as a bird being free from a cave.
The writer has shown dexterity in depicting all these characters, their actions, inner conflicts, etc, and gives us a message that sex and beauty are not the root of all relations. The Gova king could have violated the chastity of Chandraprabha, but does not do so. Instead, he welcomes her to his kingdom as a symbol of beauty, not for individual pleasure, but to give universal brightness to his kingdom.
Besides these aspects, it is a detailed account of a particular time in Assam. It throws light on social, cultural and some other important aspects of Assam’s history. It also carries a message of peace between two communities of two kingdoms, if we examine the novel from the historical point of view.
On the other hand, it is also a social novel, where a woman is portrayed through various stages of her life. She appears sometimes as happy, sometimes as sad, sometimes as a mother and sometimes as a guide to the king. In every moment, she has maintained her consciousness. From the view of courage and confidence, she resembles the protagonist of Phelani, a novel by Arupa Patangia Kalita.
Besides Chandraprabha, the Gova king, Pratapsingha, the writer has depicted a lot of characters such as Jongol Balahu, Arimatta, Ratnasingha, Lakhaitara, etc, who are fairly rich in their own qualities.
The novel also refers to Jonbeel Mela, a symbol of union between the upper and lower Assam, which becomes not only a place of exchanging merchandise, but also a place for exchanging hearts.
Deu-Langkhui is such a novel where romance, conflict and every element of the human mind gets reflected. Though some of these bear the imaginative touch, yet, through the dexterity of descriptive power, it delves into the readers’ mind like a vivid picture, meticulously reflecting all the aspects of every incident.
Though we can’t clarify that the novel is based on actual historical facts, but we may say that it is a novel with life-like characters.
Reeta Choudhury’s Deu-Langkhui carries genuine pathos, real love (which is far from lust), an interesting and heart-rending plot, blended with the writer’s own special descriptive powers.
All in all, Deu-Langkhui is a versatile novel. For some, it is a historical novel, for some it is a fantastic story related with the sword Deu-Langkhui, and some might consider it as a social novel, while some other groups of people recognise it as a research work about the Tiwa tribe.