Eminent Assamese short story writer and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Saurav Kumar Chaliha died at a private hospital here on Saturday. He was 81 and leaves behind his wife and daughter.

Considered the most innovative and powerful writer of Assamese short stories, he won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1974 for his collection Golam. In 1995, he was honoured with the Assam Valley Literary Award by the Williamson Magor Education Trust.

The real man

However, the publicity-shy Chaliha, whose real name was Surendra Nath Medhi, never appeared in public even to accept the awards; therefore most of his admirers did not have the opportunity to know the real man who wrote under the pseudonym. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award by post, and his niece received the Assam Valley Literary Award on his behalf.

He wrote 100 Assamese short stories, a number of them having been translated into English and Indian Languages. Through his epoch-making short story Ashanta Electron, written around 1950, Chaliha introduced a genre of modernity in Assamese short story. His signature style of writing is still considered unique in Assamese literature.