I always have a strange feeling reading Sanjoy Hazarika's books. I make it a point to read them and end up with a feeling that this is a black book, in the sense of the blackness of a hole. You have the dry mirth, the wry tone, the caustic evocation of a disaster, and then you are left there to choose for yourself—the underlying pessimism, the occasional reference to reconciliation, the varied justification of the received narrative of hatred in the northeast, his assertions about the unpalatable nature of the truth he is recording, his stern verdict on the weird phalanx of Left politics-intellectuals-academics-utopians-Muslim politicians. His skill in describing the scenario of illegal immigration, which he thinks has produced the politics of hatred in Assam, takes the narrative beyond a simple right/wrong description. And therefore, the reader's uncertainty will be on what to make of his exasperation with the follies of the phalanx on which he passes his verdict.
Unwillingly, by vocation, I belong to that damned group—a writer by designation, an intellectual by avocation. Having studied migration from across the border to West Bengal, I have again that feeling of strangeness as I encounter in Rites of Passage the power of description of the reasons of barbarity, hatred, exclusivity on which current nationalism thrives, and realise the powerlessness of the ethic of reconciliation. I shall explain.