Kotoky, a resident of Chenikuthi Hillside, Guwahati, has made remarkable
contributions in the field of Assamese art and literature. She is known to
have been closely associated with the "Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti".
She is recognized to have exceptional skills in her description of travel
Born in 1921, she was the daughter of the renowned
educationist, scholar and advocate from Tezpur-Late Chandranath Sharma and
wife of Mr. Shiva Prasad Kotoky of Sivsagar. Mother, Labanya Bala Devi was
the daughter of Late Dimbeswar Baruah and father of Late Chandranath
Sharma was the son of Deputy Collector Rai Bahadur Betharam Sharma. Late
Chandranath Sharma was a famous actor and had a deep bonding with the
famous ‘Ban Theatre’ of Tezpur. He was the founder President of the
‘Tezpur Sahitya Sabha’, President of A.B.H.A.U.S.H.A., President of
Ramkrishna Sewa Ashram and remained Secretary of the Tezpur Ban Theater
till his demise.
During that pre-independence time, it was customary for
an Assamese conservative family to arrange for marriage of their girl
child just after getting puberty. Hence, Chadranath Sharma, with due
respect to such customs arranged for the marriage of his daughter,
Nirupama Kotoky at an age of twelve years, when she was studying in fifth
standard. This also forced her to her to conclude her school education
from Tezpur M.E Girls School at class six. However to run family affairs
she was trained adequately by her parents including all knitting and
cutting works, sewing, embroidery etc, which was a must during those
times. In present age also, her expertise is evident in cloth works.
Since childhood, Nirupama Kotoky was highly inspired by
her father and sister Chandrabala Patangia Baruah in her voyage in art and
literature, music and acting. Also, the urges to activity participate in
local ‘Joymati’ Festival was anther source of motivation for creation of
her art literary works. Inspiration from Late Dinanath Sharma, writer of
the book ‘Nadai’, for writing articles and books was also a driving force.
She had recited her first composition titled ‘Joymati’
at Joymati Festival. She was also rewarded with silver medals for her
acting performance as ‘Lora Raja’ and ‘Gadapani’ in Joymati Festival held
at Tezpur Kolibari. She got the opportunity for singing at the age of five
while welcoming great personality and writer Padma Nath Gohain Baruah as
president of Joymati Festival. She was blessed to learn on music from
personalities like Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha, Hridoyananda Agarwala, Neera
Dogra, Indreswar Borthakur, Usha Bezbaruah etc.
Nirupama Kotoky’s literary journey started with writing
of poems. ‘she was also editor of hand-writing magazine ‘Nizara’. Though
she was intermittently slowed down in literary work by the family
responsibility, she got pulled up as the opportunity comes. Her inner soul
always starved for the writing. Persistent encouragement from her husband
Shiva Prasad Kotoky also acted like a catalyst.
Few published works of Nirupama Kotoky were:
a) ‘Sagar-tirtha Aaru Purna Kumbha’, publisher-
shiva Prasad Baruah, 1977, Guwahati.
b) ‘Devabhumi Badrinathar Paraa Devi Kanya- Kumari’,
publisher- Shiva Prasad Baruah, 1973, Guwahati
c) ‘Borshno Devi’, publisher- Khagendra Narayan
Dutta Baruah, 1986, Guwahati
d) ‘Namare Kakuti Karo Charan Kamal’, publisher-
Anupam Baruah,1986, Guwahati
e) ‘Baan Rajar Nagarat Aaji Usgha Haran’,publisher-
Khagendra Narayan Dutta Baruah,1987, Guwahati
Travel stories have long been established as an
integral part of mainstream literary works. However, Assamese literature
does not have a rich reserve of it. Nirupama Kotoky got influenced by Hem
Baruah’s work ‘Sagar Dekhilu’ and works of ‘Sanku Maharaj’ in Bengali
literature. Characteristics of Kotoky’s travel stories are her close
observation and sensibility. In her first book ‘Devabhumi Badrinathar Para
Devi Kanya-Kumari’, she has described various pilgrimages from Northern to
Southern India and the itinerary.
Her second book ‘Sagar Tirtha Aaru Purna Kunbha’
emerged out of her tour during famous Kunbha Festival. It describes the
lucid itinerary through Gujrat’s Dwaraka & Somanath and Haridwar. India’s
most of the pilgrimage sites are located in nature’s paradise. Kotoky’s
writings present this nature’s gift to the reader in a very eloquent way.
She also visited various historical places like Aurangabad, Nashik, Ajanta,
Ellora, Ujjain, Bhopal, Khajuraho, Gwalior, Khajuraho, Kurukshetra,
Amitsar etc. and presented its description to the readers.
A poetry book titled ‘Nijara’ from Kotoky’s pen was
ready for publication. Patriotism, love for nature, humanity, spirituality
etc. remained the themes of poems from this book.
Nirupama Kotoky took active part in 1980’s ‘Assam
Agitation’ bearing police atrocity including jail term. Her poems with
revolutionary theme during that time were ‘Aai Toi Nakaribi Khed’, ‘Raktabeej’,‘Swahidar
Smriti’, jaga Narayan’,‘Ashru Arghya’. Her poem titled ‘Kedarnath’
expresses the theme of respect for God; poem ‘Gabharu Nijara’ expresses
eternal love and humanity; poem ‘Pranshna’ tries to establish relation
from theories of ‘Upanishada’ to Modern life; poem ‘Anurag’ brings forward
poet’s understanding on Life; poem ‘Jeevanar Khatian’ conveys achievement
of human in life and spiritual value of life at death etc.
After marriage in 1934, at the age of thirteen,
Nirupama Kotoky had mostly lived in jungle in Assam, where her husband
worked. Various places during this period include Murkong Chelek, Bako,
Loharghat, Sarbhof, Nagaon, Yamunamukh, Hojai, Goalpara, Pathakandi,
Hailakandi, Tura, Mokakchang, Kohima, Duwenchang etc. Her favorite
writings were from famous Bengali writers like Bankimchandra,
Charatchandra, Prantosh Ghatak and Assamese poet Raghunath Choudhury and
short stories of Abdul Malik.
She got a prosperous family life with Shivaprasad
Kotoky, her sons are Jyotiprasad Kotoky (an engineer in ASEB) and
Jayantaprasad Kakoty (a chemical engineer). Her only daughter got Rasaraj
Lakhmi Nath Bezbaruah, who belonged to famous Rasaraj Lakhmi Nath
Bezbaruah’s family. Husband Shivprasad Baruan also started writing after
retirement from service life. His published books are ‘Aaranyak’ (partI &
II), ‘Sanatan Dharmar Aabhash Aaru Ekasaran Vaishnav Dharmar Aatuguri’,
‘AlokarShandhaanat’ ‘Ajir Samuhia Samashyabali’.
It is worthwhile to mention that Nirupama Kotoky’s book
titled ‘Kumayanar Bhraman Kahini’ was in the press at the time of
publishing the original article. She was also planning to publish a book
on her expeditions in Bhutan titled ‘Rupavati Bhutan’. She expects women
community to come out from the household boundary and to take
responsibilities towards society and nation building in equal footings
with males. For Assamese females, Nirupama Kotoky is a live example of
self-growth and evolution. Wish long lives of both Mr. & Mrs. Kotoky and
hope their writings would show paths to others.