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Historically, the presence of short stories in Kokborok literature can be traced back to around 70 years from now. Short stories are effective means to portray reflections of any community or society. They reflect a community's culture, their lifestyle, thoughts and mannerisms. Like any other regional or cultural literature, Tripuri literature is also rich and highly reflective of the lives of people. Kokborok, the native language of the Borok people, geographically known as the Tripuri people remained at the margins, at least till the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century, some efforts to write the language began and slowly gained momentum. It is worth mentioning that Kokborok today has gained recognition in certain universities and colleges, who have included Kokborok short stories in their syllabus.

The later half of the 20th century witnessed vigorous efforts to create literature in the Kokborok language. The development of Kokborok literature can be seen under five distinct periods, however the focus on short stories began roughly in the 1970s.

“Hathai” was the first published Kokborok short story (1977), written by Sir Nagendra Jamatia. Hathai is a dark, yet beautiful illustration of the sufferings and suppression faced by Tripuri people due to illegal immigration. In the year 1982 a book named “Nokarini Kothoma" was published, which was written by Sir Shyamlal Debbarma.

Image: Isponi Kothoma story book

In the year 1983 "Lama Kaham Naitugwi" written by Sir Rabindra Kishore Debbarma was published in "Lama" Kokborok magazine. In his book he translated many famous short stories from different parts of the world in Kokborok. He also wrote "Choba Kaisani Ulo" in 1995 and "Adong" in 1987.

In the year 1989 Sir Binoy Debbarma published a story book named "Nakhwrai" and the same year, Sir Hapada Debbarma wrote "Elemni Bibi", a collection of eight short stories. In the year 1993 Sir Nagendra Jamatia published a short story named "Bolong". This was a detailed short story, where he also briefly included his autobiography.

In 1996, Sir Sunil Debbarma published a short story named "Bolongni Khum". It was recognized as the most efficient piece in Kokborok literature during those times. The Kokborok Sahitya Sanskriti Samsad published a book named "Biyal”, in 1999, which was written by Snehamoy Rai Chowdhury. Her other works include, “Mokol bwskango” (1994), “Tongthokni Imang” (2003), “Chethuang Tolao” (2000), and “Langma Kaisa” (2010).

In the year 1999, Sir Sudhanwa’s "Dongor Kamini Ochai" was published by Lampra Pohor Praksani. "Busu", written by Sir Sunil Debbarma, was published in 2000. In the year 2012 he published "Jorani Bwthai", a short story book that contained four short stories.

In January 2000, two short stories named "Pi-koto" and "Bamon" from the "Jalai Topupu", were published by the Hachwkni Khorang Publisher. They became very popular because of their unique concepts and story line. In this book a total of twelve short stories were included. Another popular short story is "Imangni Yakhilik" which was written and published by Sir Narendra Debbarma in the year 2001.

Short stories written by Kunju Bihari Debbarma have also gained much popularity in the world of Kokborok literature. His written work "Basulam" was published in the year 2001. In his book nine short stories were included. In the year 2002 he published another book by the name "Mwnakni Pohor". Apart from this, in 2003, he also wrote "Mo Salni Pohor". This story is currently being taught at the Tripura University.

In 2002 Hachwkni Khorang Publisher published "Hachwkni Muktwi", a noteworthy work of Sir Rabindra Kishore Debbarma. In the year 2006, Sir Atul Debbarma published a book named "Toksa Hakaya". In this book a total of eleven short stories were included.

It is an unfortunate reality that indigenous languages, all over the world are in perilous conditions. Some languages have already been lost in history, some are endangered, while some are being revived. In the case of Kokborok, one can notice the constant efforts made by individuals to conserve it through various forms of writings, short stories being one of them. The number of literary works in Kokborok have not only increased but have received recognition in educational institutions. This is an important development, as the inclusion of regional works in educational institutions serves the purpose of mass education, thereby not just conserving the language, but vitally helping in its growth. It would be safe to conclude that the Kokborok literature will continue to grow through novels, poems, drama, essays, folk tales and short stories.

About the author: Khapang Debbarma is a student of Civil Engineering at NIT, Agartala. He's a painter and poet. He has worked with various language, culture, and environmental organisations and translated many significant drafts in Kokborok. He's also teaching Tripuri language to foreigners through Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp through a page name "Learn Tripuri".

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