By Lamphrang Nongspung
SOHRA: Sohra, the birth place of the legendary Khasi poet U Soso Tham had to wait for 72 long years before a statue could be installed in his memory. The poet had expired in December 1940.
Now after a long wait Sohra is honoured to have not one but two statues of this great Khasi poet.
The two statues which were installed at the Cherra Teacher’s Training Centre, Nongsawlia and at the premises of the office of Syiem of Sohra at Upper Sohra were unveiled by MTDC chairman Ronnie V Lyngdoh on Wednesday.
At present, besides the bust at State Central Library, there is another statue of U Soso Tham at the NEHU campus. The two statues installed at Sohra were at the initiative of the Sohra MLA Dr PW Khongjee and the Soso Tham Commemorative Committee.
The idea of erecting these statues was proposed at the 71st Death Anniversary celebration of this great Khasi literary figure at Sohra in 2011.
“It is an honour for the family to see such a befitting recognition being given to our great grand uncle,” Ms Saralin Tham, the great grand niece of Soso Tham told The Shillong Times after the unveiling of the statues.
While admitting that it took a long time for Sohra to have these statues in memory of this legendary figure, Tham said that the reason for this might be that people have only now recognized the greatness and contributions of U Soso Tham, after reading his works at the under-graduate and post graduate levels.
According to Tham, from the side of the family they never had plans to erect a statue of this nature because it was beyond their capacity to do so.
“Through the initiative of my mother and the support of various people, we had only erected a memorial stone at Saitsohpen in Sohra in 2007,” she said.
When asked about her thoughts on the works of her great grand uncle, Tham said, “To me, Soso Tham was a great visionary”.
Recalling the great Khasi literary figure, the founder members of the Khasi Author’s Society (KAS) KW Nongrum said U Soso Tham was born to a very poor family at Saitsohpen, Sohra in 1873.
“He was the third and only son in a family of four children,” Nongrum said, adding, that because of acute poverty, Soso Tham had to discontinue his studies after the eighth standard after his father’s death. However despite not completing his high school Soso Tham became a high school teacher and excelled in his teaching career”.
According to Nongrum, Tham was the first poet to initiate secular literature with diction, both singular and genuine.
“U Soso Tham is basically remembered for his beautiful poems. His “Ka Duitara Ksiar” (The Golden Harp, 1925) – a compilation of poems, is one of the most distinguished works,” Nongrum said.
Earlier while speaking at a function after unveiling the statues, MTDC chairman Ronnie V Lyngdoh said that the birth place of the legendary Khasi poet should have had these statues much earlier.
‘But I am happy to see that these sculptures have finally come up at Sohra despite the long wait,” Lyngdoh said.
According to him, Soso Tham was a natural poet whose spontaneity was reflected in his poetry like the clean fountains of the hills of Meghalaya.
“He was an exponent in the field of literature and poetry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sohra MLA Dr PW Khongjee informed that the sculptures statues were sculpted in Kolkata at a total expense of Rs 5 lakh.
“We have put up these statues in Sohra as a mark of respect to the great man and to encourage the youth to follow the in the footsteps of the bard also known as a ‘Messiah’ of the Khasi community,” Khongjee who is also the Parliamentary Secretary in charge Tourism added.