Bani Pathak
 
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BANI PATHAK

(1930-1976)

Bani Pathak started her literary career at a time when the field of literary practice in our country was not a vast one.

Only a few newspapers and journals offered the opportunity for developing literary talents. At that time, or even today the number of publishers coming forward to publish books was quite nominal. Our womenfolk could devote their time to writing only after performing their daily chores and so, they had to face a lot of hardship in pursuing their hobbies.

As I undertake this task of writing about Bani Pathak, a talented writer, it strikes me that she has almost been forgotten. Her untimely death has deprived her of a solid berth among the women literatures of Assam. Because the process of getting established as a writer is a lengthy one and Bani Pathak just started to tread this path.

Bani Pathak Bordoloi was born on 15th March 1930 at Tarajan Soanri Gaon, Jorhat. Her Parents were Late Purnananda Bordoloi and Late Maniki Bordoloi. Her schooling started at Devicharan Baarua Lower Primary School, Jorhat. In 1954, she passed Matriculation Examination from Jorhat Girls’ High School (Now Jorhat Government Girls’ H.S. and M.P. School) securing first division.

Then she attended Lady Keane College at Shillong and after passing Intermediate examination came back to Jorhat and took B.A. degree from Jagannath Barooah College in 1949. Taking admission into Gauhati University in 1950 she obtained a second class Master Degree in Philosophy. It will not be irrelevant to mention that at that time there were not many highly educated girls in Assam.

Bani Pathak got her first job in Sarojani Devi Girls’ H.S. School, a newly established institution at Kenduguri near Jorhat town. She was appointed as the Headmistress and she continued in that responsible position since 1953 to 1955. Thereafter she joined D.C.B. Girls’ College, Jorhat as a lecture in philosophy.

She had the good fortune to be born in a cultured family that gave her the environment to worship beauty. Besides being a good singer she was also a competent writer and composer. She wrote songs for cultural programmers and Akashbani. Collecting those songs and some other compositions scattered in various journals she published a volume by the name Surabhi she wrote a book for children also, Bezbaruar Batora. She wrote text books for college students and many thought provoking articles.

She got married in 1955 to Praneswar Pathak, a lecturer in Jaganath Barooah College, Jorhat. In her married life, she could maintain a perfect balance among her job, her family, children and literary work. Her students and colleagues at Sarojani Devi Girls’ High School still remember her competence as a headmistress and mention it with respect and admiration. Kenduguri was in a rural area and most of the girls attended school after finishing their daily chores in the paddy field. Bani Pathak gave them instructions on personal hygiene, food habit, dressing sense etc. besides being a stem administrator she was also an affectionate headmistress. She was an amiable lady who could impress everyone with her smiling face and modest behavior. She taught the school girls one morning prayer to be sung in the assembly and the same song.

Bani Pathak had keen interest in music dance and debate and she encouraged her pupils to take part in them whenever possible.

She joined Devicharan Barua Girls’ College in1955 when it was established. So she offered her service to both the institutions from the time of their birth. Incidentally these two institutions had done a lot for spreading higher education among women of Jorhat as well as Upper Assam.

Bani Pathak had been working sincerely in Devicharan Barua Girls’ College as the Head of the Department of Philosophy till her death.

The colorful natural scenery of Assam is vividly portrayed in her songs and poems. Along with it the tune of Indian Spiritual consciousness is expressed in them. Her biographical writing for children Bezbaruar Batora was selected for Asom Sahitya Sabha award. She recorded in this book all the significant details of Bezbarua’s life from his birth to death in an interesting and lucid manner.

She had been ailing for only a month. Leaving behind her husband and three sons she breathed her last on 29th April, 1976 at her own residence in Jorhat.

This writer has been dead only for eleven years but in my attempt to collect details of her life for a biography I have realized that she had almost been forgotten. So it may be surmised that Likhika Samaroh Samiti has taken a timely step to publish a collection of the life sketch of women writers.

The writers live through their works. The challenge comes to our society also. This is a call for survival and freedom.

Original thinking is a must for our writers it is a fact that they are richer in experience than men folk. And so the women who take a pen in their hands have a great responsibility. Bani Pathak’s premature death did not allow her to realize it. Still Bani Pathak’s name will come to the forefront in any discussion on Assamese women writers.

 

 
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