Gyana Bala Barua
 
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Gyana Bala Barua

In the field of Assamese literature, the number of woman writes is increasing at a rapid after independence. Their identity was unveiled through literary pursuit. Gyanabala Barua is one of those significant ladies who devoted herself in this field. Gyanabala Baruah was born in the first decade of twentieth century i.e. in the year 1904 in the month of ‘Magh’, the day is observed as a sacred day the day of worshiping ‘Swaraswati’ the Goddess of learning. Her father was Late Nilamber Dutta, the famous tea planter of Dibrugarh. Late Sorojbala Dutta, a poet and a literature was her mother. Her contribution to due Assamese literature was ‘Pralaya Kahini’. A book of poetry and ‘Santi Sandhan’ an account of a journey. ‘Santi Sandhan’ was the first contribution of a women writer in the turf of Assamese literature on journey expeditions. Prominent writer Late Benudhar Rajkhowa was the uncle of Gyanabala Barua’s mother and Late Sailadhar Rajkhowa was her maternal uncle. From her childhood she was engulfed in the atmosphere of literary culture. Unknowingly she was influenced by this and stared nurturing this culture in the later years.

The drawn of Gyanabala Barua’s academic career starts at Dibrugarh Girl’s School. Gyanabala who was already endowed with diverse talents, showed keen interest in music from her childhood days. During those days, for the Assamese high middle class families music used to be their favorite pursuit. Gyanbala Barua’s father Late Nilamber Dutta encouraged her to learn music her father presented her with a harmonium which he bought from Calcutta. At that time, harmonium was not available at the Dibrughar market. Her name was written on that instrument in golden letters. Ambika Choudhury was her music teacher. In a very short period of time, she became a good singer and enthralled the audiences at different important meetings. Once she got the opportunity to sing at a meeting organized by Assam Association, where along Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi, many other dignitaries were present, her song received bundles of accolades from them. She also tried her hands on musical instruments like organ and piano.

Gyanabala Barua was also a good weaver. Her mother arranged a small handloom for her when she was twelve years of age. She was proficient in spinning and weaving of pat and Muga clothes. She won prizes in various exhibitions by displaying her hand-made pat clothes. She has been rewarded for embroidery and knitting works also. The wedding bells rang in the year 1920 when Gyanabala Barua tied the Knot with Late Heramba Prasad Baruah. She was in the 8th standard then. Late heramba Prasad hailed from Jorhat and was the son of famous tea planter of Assam, Devicharan Baruah. Heramba Prasad was a progressive and a broad minded person. Being the daughter-in-law of an aristocratic family and living in an ostentatious atmosphere, Gyanabala Baruah used to get plenty of time for her literary pursuit and for other social activities. She was privileged in a way. She used to attend meetings with huge gatherings with her husband. She also accompanied her husband in his foreign tours.

The first knock at the door of literary life began at the age of thirteen for Gyanabala, where she penned a poem named ‘Janani’ to recite in the annual conference of Student Association. In the poem she depicted her deep emotions and feelings for a mother. The sacrifices made by a mother for her child was clearly manifested in that poem. The language was simple and lucid. She also wrote other poems but they remained unpublished. Her poems revealed her poetic talents.

Gyanabala Barua’s ‘Akashi Pathere Bideshloi’ was published in the year 1954. This was based on a foreign tour. During those days, the number of books on travel was in lesser scale. In reality, the trend of writing books on travel came into existence only after independence. Before independence, it was not easy to go abroad. There were many disadvantages. A very few people got the chance of going abroad. After independence this number went up along with the educations that went to foreign countries for higher studies, many other got the opportunity to travel to foreign countries as representatives of social, political and cultural organizations and it influenced in increasing the number of books on travel writing. In the years 1948, the book ‘Switzerland’ written by Dr. Birinchi Kumar Baruah was published. After the publication of this book along with two other books written by Late Saraj Bala Barua and Gyanabala Barua wrote another travelogue journey named Journey named Journey to the ‘Holy Places of South India and Sri Lanka’ which remained unpublished. In her book, ‘Akashi Pathere Bidesoloi’ the description of London Rome, Paris, Venice and other cities are depicted in a crystal clear manner. She has also penned down some mesmerizing details of the churches and pyramids of London along with the rituals of cremations. The famous historical palaces, gardens and museums are marvelously delineated. Through her easily accomplished description and syntax, readers are enlightened in a way as if they can fantasize themselves in that description. Gyanabala Barua also wrote short stories. Her short story ‘Kesasun’ which means raw gold was published in ‘Amar Patinidhi’ edited by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (9th year autumn edition, September 1968). Gyanabala was a playwright also. There of her dramas were played and published by all India Radio Guwahati. On other four dramas remained unpublished. She also wrote a novel named ‘Banti’. Unfortunately, she lost her son and daughter-in-law. Her wish to publish her book on travel, dramas and the novel ‘Banti’ remained unfulfilled. Gyanabala was a social organizer also. Along with Narayani Handique, wife of Late Radha kanta Handique and Kamal Kumari Barua, wife of Late Siba Prasad Barua, she founded the Jorhat Zila Mahila Samiti. Missionary women also joined the Samity. Gyanabala was the secretary of the committee. They founded a hospital dedicated to the cure of infants for the decreased children near the old civil hospital. Along with a few doctors and nurses, they arranged health cheek-up programs in different villages for the welfare of children. Gyanabala was also associated with the Bengali Mahila Samiti and Madraj Mahila Samiti when she was in Delhi.

Rabindra Nath Tagore and Jatindra Nath Duwara were her favorite poets. She used to recite poems of these two poets whenever she used to take part in any literary discussions. She wrote an article in the memory of Late Hermaba Prasad Baruah and concluded it with a poem of Jatindra Nath Duwara. The article was published in the book Hermaba Prasad edited by Late Hariprasad Neog.

The trauma of missing her husband and son inflicted grave pain to her. Her manuscripts could not be found as they were not being well preserved in a systematic manner. She was unable to give the actual date and asked of her play published by All India Radio. When she was asked whether she was inspired by anybody for her literary culture, she replied in the negative.

Not being overwhelmed amidst the happiness and pleasure of life, she engaged herself in literary works at leisure time. Whereas the advantages of publication were not sufficient at that time as limited magazines and newspaper were published. We would have got the privilege of witnessing much more valuable writing of Gyanabala Barua if she had the opportunity of publishing it all. Nevertheless, her ‘Akashi Pathere Videsholoi ‘ is a masterpiece. Unfortunately, Dr Satyandra Nath Sarma in his book ‘Asamiya Sahityor Itibitra’ (History of Assamese literature) did not mention her name. The history of literature throws light on the fact that in the modern era; mostly the middle class has been contributing much for the evolution of literary and cultural activities. Jane Austin, an English novelist of Romantic age is well known. Contemporary to Jane Austin, a female litterateur named, Miss Fanny Burney also made notable contribution to the field of English literature. It has already been acknowledgment that the influence of Jane Austin is magnanimous. Jane Austin came from a rural middle class family. On the other hand, Miss Funey Burney came from a rich and dignified family. Fanny Burney wrote in her autobiography about the impediments of the female society. Their path was jammed and there were numbers of socials obstructions for them. Defying all the social hindrances, they chose the thorny path of literary culture. Similarly Gyanabala Baruah, daughter-in-law of a distinguished family opted for the path of literary culture to utilize her leisure time, considering it as an easily obtainable path. Even then it seems there were confusion, hesitation and oscillations in her mind. If she could get a way to publicize her writings at that time, we would have been able to get more of her creative writings.

 

 
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