Pranita Devi
 
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Pranita Devi

A big crowd has assembled in the chief commercial centre of upper Assam, Tinsukia. The programmed has been organized in order to honor a famous writer. The writer is a somber looking man with his hair parted in between, sitting with a band of garlands on his neck, and a ‘khorai’ kept in front of him as a mark of respect.

At the beginning of the shovg a group of little girls perform a group song - "Gose Gose Paati Dile Phulore Khorai ..." (Trees offer flowers as a khorai). Amidst the buzz of handclaps and praises, the letter of honor was read: "The crownless king of the literary world of Assam shri ...." That was the felicitation ceremony of the great poet Lakshminath Bezbaruah. It was held in 1930. At the end of the programmed, honorable Bezbaruah was taken to a house. In the house, some interesting discussions started. A young boy also participated in these discussions.

"You have read a good number of books, dear. What is your name P" Bezbaruah asked the young man.

"Anand Chandra Baruah" replied the boy with his head bowed down. At this moment, the girl who participated in the group song presented by the little girls entered the room. Bezbaruah called the girl towards him affectionately and asked her name. The boy standing nearby replied, "Pranita, Pranita Baruah. She sings and is quite good at studies. Bezbaruah kept his hands on the girl’s head and gave her blessings, "You will have to write when you grow up to be a big girl. You will be able to write.... I give my blessings to you."

The house where Bezbaruah was taken after the ceremony was the home of a famous businessman of Assam, the owner of tea gardens, Someswar Baruah. The little girl who sang was his younger daughter Pranita. The budding poet, who later became famous as Ananda Chandra Barauh was her maternal uncle. Actually Pranita participated in the group song presentation at the encouragement of Ananda Baruah.

Pranita was born at Tinsukia in 1922. It can be said that she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Because her father was a famous businessman and tea gardener of upper Assam, a wealthy, rich person, Pranita’s mother was an active lady in social circles which was unusual in those times. She was the lifelong member of Tinsukia Women’s Association. Apart from being a social worker, she was also a writer. She has left behind a valuable piece of work for the women of Assam - I a recipe book entitled ‘Laximir Ronclhaboda’ (°Lakhshmi’s cooking).

Pranita Baruah was a bright and sincere student right from her childhood. She always stood first in her section. Including studies, she and #her sister, I-Iemi Baruah also participated in all the social functions and ceremonies organized in Tinsukia town. Together with some girls, they brought out a handwritten magazine named as ‘Moloya’. The article written by Pranita was selected for publication. Broadly speaking, ‘Moloya’ became a medium for Pranita to take her first steps into the world of literature. She was also a regular writer for the very famous children magazine ‘Okon’. In the pages of ‘Okon’ are imprinted the many stories and other writings by young Pranita.

As per the traditions of the period, Pranita was married at a Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) tender age when she was in class four. Her husband was the bright ‘Son of Assam’, Lakheswar Sarma. He was from Jorhat. Sarma was a brilliant student. He passed his B.A. in first class rank from Calcutta University and secured a gold medal as topper, and later, completed his law from the same university and scored a first class. He was appointed as Extra Assistant Commissioner (E.A.C) under British government and later, promoted for Indian Administrative Services (IAS).

After one year of marriage, Pranita was sent to her husband’s home. Her school education was left incomplete. As Pranita was a bright student, the headmaster of her school, Badan Chandra Bordoloi, requested her parents not to stop her education. But due to the rigid social norms of the times, her parents could not keep the request.

Even though she could not banish her education, her quest for knowledge did not end. Her interest in learning brought her close to books. Her husband supported her in this matter. Pranita restarted her education at her husband’s home and passed her metric and I.A. exams. But due to family responsibilities she could not excelling her academic career. Although she could not take institutional degrees such as B.A, M.A, she always maintained a close alliance with popular world literature;

Due to her husband’s profession, she had to travel to various places from Sivasagar to Dhubri. Everywhere Pranita had been able to establish herself as a vigilant social worker. She was the president of All Assam Moina Meeting and Parijaat in Dibrugarh. While Mr. Sarma was the Deputy Commissioner of Dhubri, Srimati Pranita was associated with Women organizations and Parijaat like organizations. After retirement, Mr. Sarmaand his whole family shifted to Shillong. For the last ten years," Srimati Pranita Devi is an active member of Mukul organizations in Shillong, and a regular Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) article reader at every meeting session of this organization.

In 1977, the third meeting of All Assam Women Writers Organization was held at Jorhat and Mrs. Pranita Devi was invited as its Chief Guest. In the 55"‘session of this organization held at Dumduma, Mrs. Devi was again invited as a special guest.

Mrs. Pranita Devi is the mother of a son and three daughters. The entire child grew up to become successful in their respective careers and enhanced the glory and pride of their parents. As all her children are settled in different places, Mrs. Devi is bound to live a lonely life in Shillong. Still she is not demoralized and Wishes to pass the remaining days of her life in greater literary pursuits. "It appears that I am alive to Write, and will continue to be so", this is her only inner desire.

Taking inspiration from her husband Sri Lakheswar Sarma, Mrs. Devi started her writing carrier and brought Assamese literature closer to World literature through translation works. Mr. Sarma himself was a famous writer. ‘Matri’ (Mothr) and ‘Pompaiee Porloy Kahini’ (T he story of Pompeii’s Destruction) are two of his famous translation Works. In the midst of his busy schedule as a government officer he had written several book like ‘Singha’, ‘Kornor Ramayan’, ‘Missimi Paharor Ranakhingha’, ‘Sumitra’, ‘The Administration Age Ice’ English), Aai Amreswri’, etc and enriched the storehouse of Assamese literature. The influence of such a distinguished and talented Writer husband is natural to fall on his wife. Thus, Pranita Devi has selflessly served her motherland and language by translating novels, stories, various eassys, and biography and written some poems too, at a declining age.

It not that Pranita Devi has been felicitated and honored by only All Assam Women Writer’s Association or Assam Sahitya Sabha. In 1970, while on a foreign tour with her husband, she was honored at the city of Eindhoven had organized this felicitation Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) ceremony. Some of the renowned and prominent members of the club gifted her books as mark of respect, one of which consisted of letters in which were recorded the pieces of conversations between Vincent Van Gogh and Theo Gogh.

Once when Mr. Sarma went to Madras, the wife of Education Secretary of Madras, Professor of Queen Marry College, Srimati Bhadi Velu, arranged a felicitation ceremony in her college for Mrs. Pranita Devi. In the ceremony Mrs. Devi gave a brief lecture on her writing career: "She is a worthless writer. Still, a prestigious institution like Queen Mary College decided to honor her which shows their affection and respect for literature and creative works and sets up a beautiful example. The Society which is full of such literary sensibility will definitely garner and produce great literary works."

Till date, Mrs. Pranita Devi becomes thrilled whenever she remembers such numerous ceremonies and events. The love and respect that she was able to extract in and out of country is not only her personal achievement but a matter of great pride and honor for the entire Assamese Society.

Literary Works of Mrs. Pranita Devi:

Mrs. Pranita Devi is mainly a translator. There is a great scarcity of books for children in Assamese. There is an urgent need for books which will help in the mental and moral development of children. Pranita Devi noted this lapse and translated some of the chosen children books from world literature and forwarded a model in Assamese literature and also filled this vacuum. The name of those books are- ‘Stories of Rome and Gi-eece’, ‘Story of Fairy Land’." Many gods and goddess were worshipped. Stories of Rome and Greece are based on those gods and goddess. Stories from the hand of Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) are also based on the stories of our neighboring country, Myanmar, a collection of one iffy tales rendered in Assamese language.

The best achievement of Pranita Devi’s literary career is her translation of Ervingston’s world famous novel ‘Last for Life’ into Assamese entitled ivnor Lalkha’. This translated novel was published in 1961. The novel is based on the true account of the life of the world famous impressionistic artist Vincent Van Gogh who spent his entire life in portraying human character in his canvas, presented his own ears as a gift to his lover. Keeping intact the beauty of the original work, Mrs. Devi provided an opportunity to the Assamese people to taste the delicacy of such valuable piece of literature. As soon as the translated version was published, many people wrote letters to her expressing their gratitude. Ranjan Rajkumar, a reader wrote: "The translation has been done in such a simple, lucid style that it appears to be an original work."

Another major work of Pranita Devi is her translation of the novel Beyond Desire’, written by world famous novelist Pierre la Murre, into Assamese named ‘Vaxonar Atit’. The novel depicts the heart touching story of a music lover Felix Mendel San.

Mrs. Pranita Devi’s original novel ‘Dhonxirir Usoponu’ was published in 1961. This novel deals, in a moving manner, with the love stories of the young man and woman of a village situated by the side of the river Dhonxiri. The novel earned wide fame and accolades from its readers. ‘

Jaihind’, ‘Agnikon’, ‘Mousum Iettiya Name’, are the collection of some chosen stories by the author. ‘Agnikon’ Women Writers of Assam (Vol-II) was published in 1967 and ‘Mousum Ietiya Name’ in 1968. Mrs. Pranita Devi was not confined to only translation works or story writing. She had also contributed in the field of biographical writings. ‘Acharya Vinoba Bhave’ is one of her biographical works. Besides, she also translated Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography ‘Story of My Life’ into Assamese by the name ‘Mur_Iibonir Kotha’. Both the books were published in 1955 and 1969 respectively.

She also penned a book named ‘Pati-Patnir Dharma’ based on the complex issue of the nature of relationships and duties between husband and wife. Nevertheless this book was translated by Pranita Devi from Rani Sindhu Rani’s Bengali book of the same title.

Mrs Pranita Devi also published two essays - ‘Madhuparka’, ‘Dhupdhuna’, and Written by her husband Lakheswar Sarma. Both the essays were published 1963 and 1969 respectively.

In addition, she has also written a novel named ‘Xosa Manuh’, collection of stories ‘Xonar Kharu Nalage Muk’, Grim Koar Xadhu’, a book on children stories and ‘Prithivir Atit’ which remains yet to be published.

The book ‘Galapa Kintu Xosa’ by Pranita Devi is a work of different quality It gives an account of the interesting events and incidents in the life of famous men written in a story like manner. These articles were published serially in the magazine ‘Baahi’ edited by Madhav Chandra Bezbaruah and garnered applause from all the quarters of Assamese society.

Pranita Devi’s stories and essays appeared in various literary magazines published at different times. She was a regular writer in the Assamese newspaper ‘Natun Axorniya’ which was closed down. Recently, her story ‘Xei Haahi Xei Sokulu’ published in Assamese newspaper Hxorn Bani’ managed to bring tears into the eyes of many of its readers.

Of late, Mrs Pranita Devi has also started writing poems. She has contributed more than two fifty poems for the book ‘Kaveri’. Her poems are a reflection of a mind full of experience accumulated through journeys to different parts of the world, and knowledge of world literature. The poems, when published, will surely prove to be new marvel in the field of Assamese literature.

To Conclude, blessed with the words of great poet Bezbaruah, Srimati Pranita Devi had given her entire life to worship literature and thereby served her mother language as well. With this, she has been able to attain a permanent and dignified status among Assamese writers. ‘I am alive to write’ -- May God fulfill this wish of the writer and grant her along, healthy life so that her pen keeps on moving sharply and persistently.

 

 
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