world of Assamese poetry, poetess Fatema Khatun is a familiar name. Born
in 1927, at Nagaon this poet established herself as a poet with her
courage and sincere efforts, not getting defeated by the struggles of
Habibur Rahman who belonged to the historically famous
Persian ‘Padhiya’ pedigree was her father Rahunri alias Laxkhimi was her
mother. The ancestor of Persian Padhiya Pedigree, Haji Anowar Shah Fakir
came to Assam from Delhi in 1702. The letters which came from Badshah of
Delhi were translated into Assamese and read out to the Ahom King by
Anowar Shah. The Ahom King constructed a Mosque in present day Kumarpara
of Guwahati. The Mosque was famous as Persian Padhiya Mosque. It is said
that being pleased with haji Anowar Shah Fakir, Ahom Swargadeo Laxsmi
Narayan Singh had given Powa Mecca of Hajo and Pancha Pir Dargah of
Kshetri by making a deed.
Late Habibur Rahman was not only an efficient
government official. Keeping the family tradition, he became proficient in
Urdu, Arabic and Perisian language by practicing it, he sang gazals and he
also used to write. It is also known that the forefather of this family
Hazi Anowar Fakir also wrote a Koran by hand and gilded with melted gold.
But this rare property got lost when it was taken by an educationist of
Guwahati from the new mosque of Natun Balibat, Jorhat.
Though Fatema Khatun was not able to get English
education in school or College as she had to be under the purdah system of
conservative Muslim Society, yet by easily overcoming the confusion of the
crisis and hesitation she learnt Hindi till ‘Prabesh’ and learnt Urdu and
Arabic in the Madrassa of Guwahati. Khatun had a little English education
only after marriage from Alen, a teacher who taught in Jorhat Higher
Secondary School though she faced problems in her personal life.
Khatun’s married life was not happy. Her husband’s
injustice and misconduct made her life under able. Getting perturbed by
the domestic restlessness, when she came to her parent’s home in Jorhat in
the state of physical illness, her husband married for the second time.
She became grief- stricken by such act of her husband and with that her
unhappy married life also came to an end. Since then Falema Khatun has
been living in her father’s home in Bahadur Gaonburdha Path of Jorhat
along with her daughter Asrifa and sister Musrifa. Fatema Khatun is the
glaring example of how the environment and situation help a person to make
oneself and established one.
Khatun was interested in writing poems since her
student days. Her first poem ‘Netriwa’ (Leadership) was published in ‘Jeuti’,
a magazine published from Jorhat, Government Boys School. The editor of
‘Jeuti’ was the distinguished literature Dimbeswar Neog. Her second poem
‘Kalpit Sansar’ was published in this magazine only. She dedicated herself
wholeheartedly in the literary world not losing mental equilibrium after
her divorce. Higher degrees are not necessary to express one’s mental
distress and agitation. One only needs mental strength and accomplished
flow of thoughts. Her first anthology of poems, Agnirekha was the creation
of such quality of Khatun. The foreword to ‘Agnirekha’ written by Neog had
immensely inspired Khatun.
Her poems, articles etc were occasionally published in
the women’s Section of ‘Weekly Janambhuni’. Her articles for children were
also published in Childrens Section. She had contributed for the
development of children by founding ‘Shanti Kami’ Maina Parijat. She
worked to her capacity as a member of Jorhat Maina Parijat.
Khatun’s articles were published in ‘Dainik Assam’ and
‘Asom Bani’. Apart from that her poems- ‘Bapuji, Bhul Matho Ajane Nakare’
and the story ‘Milan’, written on the theme of harmony between Hindu and
Muslim were published in ‘Abhijatri’, a magazine published by All Assam
Pradeshik Mahila Samiti. Her different writings were also published in the
journals such as ‘Jowar’, ‘Minar’, Udayan’, ‘Jagriti’, ‘Sonowali’,
‘Sangram’ ‘Arohan’, ‘Insalf’ and in Dainik Janambhumi’. The foreword of ‘Ruplekha’,
an anthology of poem was written by Syed Abdul Mailik. Her poem ‘Sowarani’
which was a tribute to Hari Prasad Neog was published in the souvenir
‘Samalay’ published by Jorhat Sahitya Sabha. Khatun presented a poem
titled ‘Nari’ (woman), in the first convention of poets under the auspices
of All India Radio, Guwahati. By participating in the poet’s convention
organized by the All Assam Lekhika Samaroh Samiti, she expressed her love
for this organization. She published the half-yearly magazine ‘Insaf’ in
1950 by editing it herself.
Smti Khatun is not only a poet and a writer, but also a
renowned women organizer. In the year 1950, she organized the Muslim women
and celebrated the birth day of Hazarat Mohammed, ‘Fateha-ye-Dewaji- Daham’
for the first time by women and made it a practice of yearly celebration.
She demanded the due right to property for the exploited, deprived women
and she also wanted remedies for such maladies by system she came out to
protest. Joining Mahila Samiti, Jorhat Sahity Sabha and other such
organizations, she came forward forcefully overcoming the obstacles to
change the society. She has been working for the welfare of the society by
getting involved with various organizations. Ever since she was separated
from her husband, she has been struggling for the redressed against the
injustice done by man towards women. She seeks due right and the human
rights of women through her writing and through women organization.
Presently Smti Khatun is a life member of Assam Sahitya
Sabha. Every year she participates in the Sahitya Sabha convention
representing Jorhat Sahitya Sabha. She was felicitated in the poet’s
convention of Sahitya Sabha held in Dumduma in 1989. This writer was
felicitated by Titabor Lekhika Samaroh Samiti. She was also felicitated by
Jorhat Yuva Chatra Parishad, Nari Sangtha, Jorhat, District Mahila Samity
Jorhat Women Organization and other such organizations.
Intending to discuss about the literary activity of
this born poet, story writer Syed Abdul Malik has written, "The number of
Assamese women poet in Assamese literature is pathetically limited. The
number of Muslim women poet is evens more pathetically few. In such a
situation, Fatema Khatun, the one time editor of ‘Insaf’, has been self-
less engaged in writing, though she was entangled in the problems of her
The poet has won the heart of the readers while trying
to portray the sorrows and sufferings, hopes and aspirations of the needy
and down- trodden people of the society whom she met on her journey of
Imbibed with patriotism, the poet has appealed to the
upcoming young generation to be strong with moral power. Uprooting the
corruption and an evil from the society, with an urge to move the society
ahead with a strong leadership, the poet writes-
"If you are the leader of the genuine path
If you want to bind all with a new bonding-
Then don’t make mistake at every step
Build the society, with new strength".
The poet Fatema Khatun has projected Indian women in a
unique form by her pen which is mightier than the sword. Expressing the
virtues and fame of the great women such as Sadhani, Jaymati, Mulagabharu,
Nurjahan, Rajia, Mumtaz, Kanaklata, she writes in her poem, "The Women’;
‘I will make shine in hundred form
The new look
Demanding the self- identity
I will wait forever,
This way in this world
I will show the competence’
The poet who seeks the due rights for women has
designated women to be the great power of the world.
The poet who was deprived of love of her husband during
her youth, has started clearly the indomitable longing for two lives
You are the sky, I am the sea
Both of us are blue
Within my vision
Will shine forever
Whether you are blue or I
No trace will be there’.
(You are the sky I am the sea’)
The sense of lyricism is observed in some in poems of
Fatema Khatun. In the forward to "Ruprekha’ and Syad Abdul Mailik has
reiterated the English poet Shelley’s immortal lines in connection with
Fatema Khatun’s poems;
‘Miserable men are wrought into poetry by wrong
They learn in suffering what they teach in song.
Though the poet was weakened by the struggles of the
family life, yet she had immense strength of mind. Khatun’s strong
feelings of distress against the selfish group who caused obstacles in the
path of establishing herself is expressed through the poem-
Oh! The judge the director
Old world’s new people
Oh! The judge-
The inclusive rules of injustice
By breaking and throwing
Will you be able to judge?
Don’t you have the ability?
Seeing that the freedom of her country is endangered,
the poet writes with regret-
Where is Assamese Maniram, Bahadur
(The village headman) today
Where is the heroic group full of blood today?
Where is the heroic mighty woman today?
The devoirs flame of that burns in the heart today.
The lamp of Assam is extinguished, the country is
The flame of revolt is ignited ages after ages
A handful of revolutionaries are the only resource of
In the poem ‘The Retreat’, the poet has found such a
link in the universe.
The poet has written poems with strong tone without
compromising about those exploiting class of the society and those who
degraded womanhood. But her tone seems to somewhat weakened in the poem
‘Destroyed Dream’ which was published in ‘Anubhunti’. The poet has
"Alas! The dream to live is lost
I go do sailing boat in the river of mind
Speechless and motionless
Seeking the dream in the form of blue sky
The sleepless night-
The imaginary picture of hope in the heart
The destroyed region of lush- green crops
It is the witness to the death of an ocean, the
Whose curse is this, whose injustice is this?
Many books of Fatema Khatun are not yet published. Her
anthology of poems, ‘Smritirekha’, a religious book titled ‘Jyotirekha’
and a short play ‘Jaymati in Heaven’ are unpublished.
The easy, simple language and expression have given a
beauty of its own to Fatema Khatun’s writing. She is a social worker,
writer and a children literature. This writer who could not be shaken by
any obstacle is our source of inspiration.