Soujanyamayee Bhattacharyya occupies a distinct place
in the history of Assamese literature, since she is one of the few women
writers who have been writing since the 40’s of the bygone century. She is
not only a novelist, a story teller, a poet, but also a writer of thought
provoking articles. Besides literary talent, she was a singer, an actress
a social worker. She worker, she taught the children was a singer, an
actress a composing them. She tried her hand in writing plays also and one
of her unpublished plays, ‘Keteki’ was staged by the ladies of Amolapatty,
Born in 1923 in a very culture family Soujanyamayee was
the second daughter of Kumudeswar Borthakur and Puspalata Devi. Her
grandfather was the town Mouzadar of Sivasagar. She received her
grandfather was the town Mouzader of Sibsagar. She received her early
education at Tezpur girls’ M.V School. Her father, who served as Inspector
of schools, was transferred to Dibrugharh, and Soujyamayee got herself
admitted to transfer to Dibrugharh and Soujyamayee got herself admitted to
Victoria girls’ school, a Bengali medium institution. Even at a very
tender age of four stood on the Tezpur strange and presented a song to the
delight of the audience. Her father Kumudeswar Borthakur had considerable
musical talent, and he taught his daughter to recite evening prayers, and
even from her early childhood, she became interested in music.
Her father has been again transferred to Nagaon, and
Soujanjamyyee was admitted to Nagaon, Mission School. While they were in
admitted to Nagaon, they used to hold meetings on every Sunday, presided
over by their father, in which they had to read out self composed essays.
In her autobiography she mentioned how she wrote plays, how her brothers
and sisters and sisters played different roles.
Soujayamoyee entered into wedlock with Promdram
Bhattacharjee, a lawyer by profession, in 1936, while she was reading in
class VIII, at Panbazar girls’ High School, Guwahati. Her husband settled
permanently at Nagaon. After marriages, Soujanmayee had to keep herself
busy performing different domestic chores, since theirs was a big joint
family. Though she wanted to appear in the Matriculation Examination as a
private candidate, she could not so due to domestic compulsion. But her
literary pursuit remained unabated. She is proud mother of five sons and
there daughters, all of whom are settled. Despite the fact that she had to
keep herself busy in household affairs, Sonjayamoyee kept her urge alive.
In this matter she gratefully recollects the inspiration give by her
father-in-law Anandaram Bhattacharjee. At his initiative, a collection of
short stories titled "Chaisuti" was published in 1948. It was followed by
a dance- drama published in 1950. A prestigious published in 1950. A
prestigious publishing hence ‘Lawyers" Book Stall" of Guwahati, published
‘Monjol’ a collection of stories meant for children.
Her son Tarakaram Bhattacharjee published her short
story collection "Manare Dhou", in 1962. A novel based on the background
of Chinese aggression of 1962, "Himachal Nirabe Kape" was published in ‘Nabajyoti’-
a magazine published from Dhekaijuli. For a few years her main concern was
to write books that will benefit the children. So she wrote novels, plays
dance, drama – all meant for children. Her eldest son Tarakaram published
them in a single volume under the title "Runjun Nupur Baje’. Her latest
novel ‘Pratidan’ will soon sees the light of the day. Besides these she
has been contributing articles, short stories, biographies, to newspapers
and journals. A few other books, including plays await publication.
Soujanyamayee is also a poet of considerable talent.
While she was only ten years old, she wrote a poem ‘Eti Kabita’ and it was
reprinted in the Nagaon girl’s college magazine. One of her poems was
included in an anthology of poems- written by women writers, published in
1985 and edited by Thaneswar Hazarika, a well known writer. Another poem
was published in the Souvenir of Nagaon session of "Sodou Asom Lekhika
Besides being a writer, Soujanjanmayee is a social
worker as well. Her activity took part in the famous Asom Movement against
illegal immigrants. She presided over a meeting violating 144 imposed by
When the Nagaon branch of Sodou Asom Lekhika Samaroh
Samity’ was founded in 1978, she was one of the founder members. Another
organization came up at the initiative of a few social workers of Nagaon,
under the name and style "Sevasram". The purpose of the group was to train
up men and women for different vocations so that they may be economy self
reliant. She is currently the president of this organization. Soujanmayee
is a rare example of a person dedicating her self for the good of the
Literary achievement of Mrs. Bhattacharyya
One of the remarkable traits of short stories is the
social awareness; ‘Charisuti’ a collection of the short stories of her
early age was published by Tarak stories of Nagaon in 1948. In one of the
stories of this collection ‘Mukuli Hridoy", she possibly looked back at
her own life when she took up the theme of early marriage of girls
prevalent in the Brahmin community. In this story she portrayed the
character of Chandrabala to show women’s jealously. Though the social
reality of her time, found adequate expression, yet it suffered from the
lack of matured thinking.
‘Darpachurna’ is another story included in this
collection, in which she depicts. The character of an artisan named ‘Lahoti’,
who was adept in weaving and knitting, but was very poor. She was looked
down upon by Aarti who belonged to a well to-do family, and was very proud
of her aristocracy. But in the course of time misfortunate fell on the
family, and the entire property had to be mortgaged. Arati had to take the
help of Lahoti. Thus her pride was humbled. Hence the name of the story is
‘Darpachurna’. (Pride humbled)
Two other stories included in this collection- "Prarajoy"
and ‘Satirtha’ - reflect the tears and laughter of human life. Mahichandra
Bora, himself a prominent writer, spoke highly of her stories. In most of
her stories, she exposed the social evils of her times and indirectly
hinted at the necessity of liberal out look to replace conservative
‘Khetiokor Jivan’ – (Life of farmers) is a dance- drama
having symbolic meaning. ‘Rangali’ a farmer symbolizes traditional outlook
of a farmer while the children represent the modern outlook of a farmer
while the children represent the modern outlook.
Soujayamoyee made significant contribution to
children’s literature ‘Mougol’ (Honey Drops), a collection of stories
meant for children is the third publication of the writer and appeared in
1955. When she was asked in an interview as to what was the source of the
themes of the stories, she informed that she depended on ancient legends
for her subject mater. The purpose of most of the stories was to teach the
children- moral lessons. Late Ratna Kanta Borkakoti, a former President of
Asom Sahitya Sabha’ the apex literary organization of the state concludes
that the language of the stories is as sweet as the honey drops and is
appropriate for children.
‘Manar Dhou’ – (The waves of mind) an anthology of
seven short stories appeared in 1962. In these stories also human
relationship in its various forms find expression. The writer is serious
about the happenings in and around the society she lived in, but the lack
of psychological insight robs the stories of depth one expects to find.
The art of the short story is not easy to acquire, the writer is required
to practice utmost economy in the use of words. But unfortunately
Soujanyamoyee fails to avoid a description which does not contribute to
the total effect of the story. Whatever may be her limitations to other
genre of literature, it must be acknowledged that she had a talent for
writing children’s literature. "Runjun Nupur Baje"- a collection of there
plays and ‘Bandhir’- a short novel give simple evidence of this aspect of
Soujanayamayee occupies a distinct place in the area of
poetry also. If her stories and novels reflect social problems and
conflicts, her poems express personal joys and sorrows. One of her
remarkable poems is ‘Bandisal’ (The Prison), which is an expression of her
predicament. She imagines herself to be a prisoner of the world:
Biswa Karagar as Bandini Mai,
‘Ki Dosat? Ki Aparadhat, Napare Manat,
Matho Jeinu Bandini Mai."
(I am a prisoner! Imprisoned in this the universal
prison! I do not remember what my crime is! I only know that I am a
Critical readers will not fail to notice a symbolic
undercurrent in the poem— the prison she speaks of is the society which
imposes so many restrictions and the prisoners are women in general.
Another poem which bear the stamps of her poetic talent is ‘Dhanya Jivan’
(The Blessed Life), included in anthology ‘Asomoya Nari Kabi Kantha’
(voice of the women poets of Assam), edited by Thaneswer Hazarika, and
published in 1985. If ‘Bandisal’ is symbolic, ‘Dhanya Jivan’ is
philosophical. In the latter poem the poet feels the insignificance of her
life, and compares herself to a weed in the garden which ‘Dhulikona Mai’
(I am a particle of dust) written by Chandradhar Baruah, a prominent poet,
in which he feels himself to be a mere particle of dust having no
significance at all.
"Eti Jilingani’ (A glimpse) included in the Souvenir
published on the occasion of the annual session of the ‘Sodou Asom Lekhika
Samaroh’ held at Nagaon in 1978, is philosophical poem. In this poem her
tone is different from that of ‘Dhanya Jivan’ is in sharp contrast with
the optimism of the poem under discussion. In this poem she expresses that
however insignificant one’s life may be one may aspire to be through work,
as she herself did.
It is clear from the above discussion that
Soujanyamayee Bhattacharya is a leading writer among the senior writers of
In conclusion, if a few lines from the comment made by
Biren Borkotoky, a literary critic and a former President of ‘Asom Sahitya
Sabha’ are quoted, it would be sufficient to show what position
Bhattacharya occupies in the areana of Assamese literature.
Soujanymayee Bhattacharya- writes Borkotoky "is a well
known figure in the literary circle of Assam. A senior writer Mrs.
Bhattacharya has been writing since her childhood and establishes herself
as a writer of considerable merit. She has been sincerely dedicating
herself to literary, culture and social activities. Though advanced in age
she still continues to write--------- with a sense of social commitment.
Soujanyamayee Bhattacharya reveals the inner working of her mind-a mind
which sincerely seeks the well being of the society as a whole".
May God grant her a long life to enrich Assamese
literature in the coming years?