Temsula Ao

Sahitya Akademi award-winning author Temsula Ao of Nagaland, one of the major literary voices of Northeast India passed away at a private hospital in Dimapur on October 9.

The Assam Kaziranga University admissions

She was 76.

She graduated from Mokokchung’s Fazl Ali College, obtained her Master from Gauhati University and PhD from the North Eastern Hill University, Shillong from where she retired in 2010 as a professor, department of English, and dean of the School of Humanities and Education.

A Padma Shri (2007) for literature and education as well as Sahitya Akademi Award (2013) in English for Laburnum for My Head, Temsula Ao was widely known and respected as one of the major literary voices in the Northeast.

She was also honoured with Governor’s Award in 2009. Among others, she served as the chairperson of the Nagaland State Commission for Women and Director of the North East Zone Cultural Centre.

Her works have been translated into German, French, Assamese, Bengali and Hindi among others.

Some of Temsula Ao’s poetry collections are – Songs that Tell (1988), Songs that Try to Say (1992), Songs of Many Moods (1995), Songs from Here and There (2003), Songs From The Other Life (2007) and Songs along the Way Home (2019) among others.

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Temsula Ao has published three short story collections. These Hills Called Home: Stories from the War Zone (2005), Laburnum for my Head (2009) and The Tombstone in my Garden: Stories from Nagaland (2022). These Hills Called Home consists of ten short stories and deals with the insurgency in Nagaland fired by the right to self-determination of the Naga people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of the widely respected author.

“Saddened by the passing away of Dr. Temsüla Ao, who played a pivotal role in popularising the wonderful Naga culture through her literary works. Her efforts in the fields of education and culture were noteworthy. Condolences to her family and friends. May her soul rest in peace,” Narendra Modi tweeted on October 10.

She has left her mark on the readers and her followers in a deep way.

“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Temsula Ao, friend and wonderful evocative writer from Nagaland whose warmth, affection, laughter and sensitivity made her an exceptional human being. A professor who wore her academic robes lightly. Temsula wrote many books but my favorite is These Hills Called Home, a collection of stories of pain that singed and moved me to tears when I first read it,” said author, researcher and commentator Sanjoy Hazarika.

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National award-winning filmmaker Utpal Borpujari wrote: “What a loss! One of the finest in contemporary Indian literature, she brought out #Nagaland’s socio-cultural complexities through her perceptive fiction writing. RIP #TemsulaAo.”

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