A quiet social worker, Chandrabala Baruah was not only
a season writer but a brilliant and a lady of amicable disposition as
well. She was in fact a pioneer who tried to spread women’s education in
Assam. She wrote stories, articles and poems in ‘Ghar Jeuti’, ‘Banhi’, ‘Awahan’,
‘Jayanti’ etc through her pseudonym "Alka". Unfortunately the talent of
such a reticent extra ordinary personality withered like the petals of
flowers bloomed in wasteland. But as the saying goes, talent never dise
only mortal body perishes.
Chandrabala Baruah was born on the full moon day of the
month of Bhadra in 1907 to the famous patangia family of Tezpur Kaliabor.
Her father was late Sonaran Patangia and mother late Mahindri Patangia. In
her childhood, she was fondly called "Chandrawali" or "Chandrabala" by her
parents. But for the cruel destiny, she lost her beloved mother at very
tender age of three but her aunt late Sumitra Patangia took the charge of
Mahindri’s nine children. She did it with so much love and care that
nobody could know that she was not their real mother. Chandrabala’s father
married three times. Late Bodhonath Patangia was her eldest brother. He
was the first Assamese Advocate of Tezpur fine actor and skilled artist.
People from different corners of Assam, Dibrugarh, Sivsagar, and Jorhat
came to enjoy his acting in the role of Chanakya. Chandrabala’s life was
influenced to a great extent because of such environment at her home.
Her student life started in the local town hall school.
Afterward she studied in the Tezpur Girls M.V. School. From that school
she appeared in the middle school scholarship and secured one of the three
scholarships awarded at that point of time in the whole Assam Valley. She
could not proceed for higher education as she had been suffering from many
ailments like dysentery, piles, anemia etc. Her Brother Bodohonth Patangia
brought admission from Calcutta to get her admitted in the famous Bathun
College. But her adopted mother did not want to send her far away because
of her ill health. So the chapter ended thereto.
Later on, she completed Senior Training from Nogaon
Mission School with distinction. Initially she was not allowed to join the
training course as she was not above 16 years, but she got this
opportunity because of the then Inspector of school, Ms. Geret.
In 1919, the month of January, she joined the Tezpur
Girl’s M.V. School as 3rd Assistant Teacher where Chandraprabha
Saikia was the headmistress. That period was catastrophic for the Patangia
family as because within the span of one year, epidemic Black fever
claimed the lives of seven members of their consecutively one after
another. Her eldest brother Bodhonth Patangia also died succumbing to the
same epidemic. His sad death and this catastrophe left the Patangia family
in a pitiable condition. Poverty encompassed them. Therefore getting a job
was top priority for her just to run the house. But after serving for one
year only in 1920, Chandrabala Boruah was also infected by same deadly
disease. At that time, Non Co-operation Movement was going on in full
swing. Her small elder brother Puran Patangia was swayed away by the wave
of the movement. So refusing to study in "Golami School" any more, he left
his studies. That same year, her second elder brother also died of
tuberculosis. They became helpless. Lakshmikanta Barua of Nagaon, a friend
of their family came to know about one Brahmachri injection and he
informed Patangia family about this. Chandrabala Baruah was thus able to
take this injection per kind favor of Kiranmayee Agarwalland which cured
her from the five year old Black Fever. Thus Chandrabala escaped from the
jaw of death.
Chandrabala ornamented the chair of the Headmistress of
school in 1936 and she remained there till 15th August 1967
carrying out the heavy duty & responsibilities.
On 15th January 1928, Tezpur Mahila Samiti
was established. She was the founder President of this society. This
society celebrated Jaymati Utsab every which attracted the people of
Tezpur. The union of teenagers named "Usha Chatar Sabhaa" also joined its
hand in celebrating Joimoti Utsab which made the event a grand success.
Incidentally Bishnu Prasad Rava also participated in the festival.
Chandrabala welcome Gandhiji on his visit to Tezpur in 1934 and offered
him a contribution of one hundred and one rupees towards his Horizon fund
(fund for the depressed classes among the Hindus as called by Mahatma
Gandhi). Gandhiji was so happy that he patted her on the back uttering
"Good girl". Gandhiji narrated how "Swaraj" could be attained through
spinning yarns and discarding foreign cloths.
Though initially due to her ill health and many other
reasons not marry but later on in the year 1936 on the particular day of
"Rash Purnima" on the month of "Aghun", she married to Shibakanta Barua of
Nogaon. Shibakanta Barua worked as a trainer in technical Training School
of Tezpur. Later on he was promoted to the officer in Charge of the
Technical Training Center. They had their permanent residence at Polo
Field, Tezpur. They had a happy married life. But irony of fate! They were
not fortunate enough to have their own children in their married life.
This childless couple lessened their sorrow by filling up their vacuum
with adoption of two boys and upbringing them with much love and
affection. They were named as Kamal baruah and Naibedya Baruah
Right from childhood Chandrabala Baruah had a keen
interest in studies and a flare for writing. But unfortunately, she could
not acquire higher education. His eldest brother subscribed for many
newspapers and magazines for their residence. He subscribed Banhi ‘Alochani’,
‘Banhi’, ‘Usha’, and ‘Asom Bandhob’, children monthly magazine "Akana" and
"Arun" which gave her an environment for studies. She turned over the
pages of different papers and magazines even when she could not read and
understand them. Afterwards it became her habit. This habit had influenced
her life tremendously. She was delighted in solving the puzzles published
in "Akan" and "Arun". Once she was able to get prizes from Jabakusum
Company of Kolkata for solving such puzzles. Afterwards she started
writing short stories. She wrote innumerous stories, articles, and poems
in Abahan, Banhi, and Jayanti in pen name "Alaka". She wrote a poem on
Muga cloth and gifted it to one of her nephews on the occasion of his
wedding. She had to prepare all the felicitation/ citation offered to the
famous peoples, patriotic leaders like Gandhiji, Acharyya Kripalini, and
Bishnuram Medhi etc on their visit to Tezpur.
For two consecutive years (1963 to 1965) Tezpur Mahila
Samiti arranged coaching classes for 25 private girl students who wanted
to appear in the matriculation examination. Chandrabala took the sole
responsibility of taking care of these girls by keeping them in her own
polo field residence. She took the help of one retired Govt. high school
teacher Late Ludairam Das and Smti Arati Das, wife of noted educationist
and politician Bipin Pal Das for teaching these girls. She also purchased
their necessary articles including books and even sometimes offered little
monitory help whatever she could. While in night, sleeping in her bed,
Chandrabala thought about their studies. "That girl is weak in math, if
she can be given a private tuition this time, she may get the scholarship"
"This girl is very poor. This time 3.00 should be given to her from my
salary" Yes for a true teacher who can be dearer than her student.
She was strict in her class room but she at the same
time encouraged and inspired the students to participate in annual
meeting, dance, recitation play etc. and became one of them. She visited
house to house to break the news of getting scholarship to the recipients.
Tolerance and patience were the basic qualities of this
silent worker Chandrabala Baruah. This lady could recite self composed
poems in different meetings. She appealed the womenfolk to come out of the
conservative and orthodox mindset through her speeches. As the founder
president to Tezpur Mahila Samiti, Chandrabala proposed Bhumuraguri as the
location of the second bridge over Brahmaputra.
In the later part of her life, she probably suffered
from depression. She burned many of her writings. Asom Pradeshik Mahila
Samiti wanted to felicitate her. So they approached her but she refused
the proposal. She was mentally perturbed, frustrated and became dumb in an
endless mental agony for which she did not hesitate to destroy her own
creations. "Conscious people are always neglected". Is this saying
applicable in the life of Chandrabala Baruah?
CONTRIBUTION OF WRITER CHANDRABALA BARUAH TO THE LITERARY WORLD
As a writer she contributed a lot to the readers of
Assam. Sadly enough, many of her works could not be traced out. A few
unpublished writing which were mixed in the bundle of old papers were
recovered by his son Naibedy Mariah. Handing over these materials he said
in much grief and anger "Mother destroyed her own creations". Her
passionate love to her mother tongue was vividly revealed in her writings
- thus outpouring through her words:-
Dearest one is my mother tongue
You are water of my heart.
You are my nectar, river of heaven
You thought me so many things
Quenched my grief
How can I invoke you?
Am left with tears only,
Dearest my mother tongue,
You are water of my heart
You are nectar, river of heaven,
You are my abstract,
You taught me from my birth
How can I invoke you?
Today I have none.
Though she did not disclose her feelings of a woman who could not
become a mother, she loved children with all her heart. She wised the
children with brighter future.
My blessing to the children
Be light of education for every home
Let it bloom in their tender hearts.
Take pious love
Spreading the colt of education
Let the light lit in every heart
The light of Assam lamp
The light of education
She wrote this congratulatory note on the publication
of "Asom Jyoti" offered my trivial contribution. Is really this co
operation small? This relentless social worker and teacher left for
heavenly abode on 24th January 1983 in her own residence at
polo field Tezpur due to old age problems may her soul rest in peace.