Despairing Day In The Literary History Of Nagaland: Dr Temsula Ao

A Heartfelt Loss To The People Of NagaLand

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed sadness at the death of famous litterateur Temsula Ao saying, she played a pivotal role in popularising the Naga culture through her literary works.

A recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award and Padma Shri, Ao wrote in English and emerged as a leading poet and short story writer from the north east. She was 76.

Temsüla Ao was born on 25 October 1945 at Jorhat, Assam and matriculated at Ridgeway Girls’ High School, Golaghat. She received her B.A. with Distinction from Fazl Ali College, Mokokchung, Nagaland, and M.A. in English from Gauhati University, Assam. From English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, she received her Post Graduate Diploma in the Teaching of English and PhD from NEHU. From 1992 to 1997 she served as Director, North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur on Deputation from NEHU, and was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Minnesota 1985–86.

Ao received the honorary Padma Shri Award in 2007. She is the recipient of the Governor’s Gold Medal 2009 from the government of Meghalaya. She is widely respected as one of the major literary voices in English to emerge from Northeast India along with Mitra Phukan and Mamang Dai. Her works have been translated into German, French, Assamese, Bengali and Hindi.

She also published seven poetic works throughout her life span.

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).

Book of Songs: Collected Poems 1988-2007 (2013).

Songs along the Way Home (2019).

In January 2013, she was appointed as the Chairperson of the Nagaland State Commission for Women. As the chairperson, Ao was very vocal for women’s rights in the state often challenging traditional status quo and legal stalemate.

Modi tweeted, “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.”