Life for poet's Orissa home - Dispur to restore Lakshminath Bezbaruah's house

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By PANKAJ SARMA
  • Published 16.07.10
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Guwahati, July 15: A prominent “ILU” signature in red on a peeling wall screams of neglect that the Orissa home of Assam’s “king of humour” Lakshminath Bezbaruah has suffered in the past 73 years.

Weather-beaten, decrepit and reeking of abandonment, the house at Nelson Mandela Square on the bank of Mahanadi, where the literary icon lived for several years, has finally been chosen by the Assam government for preservation.

Secretary, cultural affairs department, Shantanu Thakur said the state government has decided to restore and maintain Bezbaruah Kuthi in Sambalpur for which Rs 1 crore has been earmarked under the Chief Minister’s Special Scheme.

Sahityarathi Bezbaruah had built the 12-room house with his savings when he shifted to Sambalpur to supervise his family business of railway sleepers and stayed on for 20 years.

Thakur said S.P. Kakoti Bora, director of the cultural affairs department, had visited the house at Sambalpur and would submit a report on this regard.

“After going through the report, we will work out the details of the project and take a decision on how to proceed,” he said.

R.K. Padmapati, a resident of Orissa who has been advocating restoration of the house, told The Telegraph over phone from Angul that the house was in urgent need for restoration.

He said Bezbaruah lived in Sambalpur from 1917 to 1937 and stayed in that house from 1924 till August 18, 1937 — the day he left for Dibrugarh.

“The people of Orissa and the Sambalpur Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage want the restoration of the place associated with the renowned writer,” he said.

An oil portrait of the writer unveiled in 1968 to commemorate his birth centenary adorns the Sambalpur Municipal Council hall.

Born in 1868, Laxminath enriched Assamese literature with his essays, plays, fiction and poetry.

Popularly known as Roxoraj or “the king of humour” for his satirical writings, the writer had gifted the house to his eldest daughter, Aruna Mukherjee, in 1934.

Padmapati, however, said the house is now in possession of the Orissa government but a person claims ownership of the house. He claims it was sold to his family in 1944.

The matter is now sub-judice and Orissa government is fighting the case in court.