Monday, 30th October 2017

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Creativity that outshone scholarship

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 30.11.11

I was on a walk in the morning. The sky was hazy. The November sun made its presence felt only through diffused lights. Slowly, the black clouds began to gather overhead. It appeared as if night had returned at dawn. I recalled a line from Hiruda (Hiren Bhattacharya), “Who would bring me the sunshine at the dawn?”

The day appeared overwhelmingly sad. But what for? I searched within. But I did not have any inkling. I did not have to wait long though. As I switched on my TV, a local news channel broadcast the tiding. A tiding that spread its sadness far and near. Mamoni baideo has passed away. It is not even a month since Bhupenda has left us. But the fate had another blow aimed at us. Now, how do we survive these twin blows?

As for memories, it was Delhi where I met her. A teacher in Delhi University, she was Mamoni baideo to one and all. All students from Assam would receive her abundant affection, her affectionate solutions to problems of all sorts.

On many occasions, she would take it upon herself to feed large groups of students. In all her actions, one could poignantly trace her paramount concern. It was the concern for the marginalised, the disadvantaged and the exploited. In the way she would champion their causes, one would often forget that here was an extraordinary scholar steeped in Ramayani traditions. It was the reflected glory of her fame that these students would bask in.

True, her scholarship was enough to earn her immortality. But her creativity would outshine even these startling facets of scholarship. It was during her stint at Delhi University that she wove intricate details of human predicament and emotions. Here, too, the thread that linked her creations of diverse contents was the unmistakable concern for the helpless and the exploited. These concerns spilled over to all her fiction and short stories. Nilakanthi Braja, for example, is a tale of abject poverty and cruel exploitation of Radheswami widows of Vrindavan.

The protagonist Soudamini’s portrayal captures traces of the writer’s own pang and anguish on the death of her husband. To me, no writer has framed these sufferings in such exquisite details.

In a similar fashion, Dontal Hatir Uinye Khowa Howda chronicles the plight of Brahmin widows of xatras.

Who can forget the rendering of these plights in that poem of a film Adajya? Chinnamastar manuhto features her opposition to the traditions of animal sacrifice, Tez aru dhulire dhusarita Pristha boldly details the plight of Sikhs during the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. In all these, her concern for the oppressed and the exploited gushes forth with the innate sublimity of a deft writer.

In all these, her words heal. Her words espouse causes. Her words arouse. Her words spread the acute urge for peace.

Her words conjure up the images of dignity amidst squalor. Indeed, it is a mesmerising world of words. These grow on the essence of our civilisation. The essence of empathy. This is how Mamoni baideo defies death.