Once Upon a Life: Burnt Curry and Bloody Rags


Author: Temsula Ao

9789381017982 | PB | pp. 248 | 2013 | Kali for Women

The author’s happy childhood was cut short by the death of her two parents. From poverty, with courage and determination, she rose to new heights. This memoir gives us insight into Temsulo Ao’s life.

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Temsula Ao was born in 1945 in the Assamese town of Jorhat. Her happy childhood with her five siblings was cut tragically short with the deaths of both their parents. Desperately poor, emotionally scarred, lonely and often hungry, the young Temsula made up for her lack of resources with courage and determination. From these unpromising beginnings, Ao went on to build a distinguished teaching career, serving as Director of the Northeast Zone Cultural Centre, and finally Dean of the School of Humanities and Education, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Temsula Ao describes the book as “an attempt to exorcise my own personal ghosts from a fractured childhood that was ripped apart by a series of tragedies… [it] is about love and what it is like to be deprived of it.”

For her readers, Ao’s memoir gives not only an insight into her role as a leading figure in the Northeast, but is also a moving account of a writerly life.

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Temsula Ao




Kali for Women





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About the Author

The author is the Dean, School of Humanities and Education, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong. She was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian honours, in 2007 and the Nagaland Governor’s Award for Distinction in Literature in 2009. She is the author of several books of poetry as well as two collections of short stories.


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