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