Known for her glamorous beauty and literary talent Uma
Baruah occupies a distinct place among the women writers of
Daughter of a noted tea planter Keshab Ch. Baruah and Labanya
Baruah, Uma Baruah was born at Chenikuthi, Guwahati, in 1926.
Her pet name was ‘Titi’ It may be mentioned that her mother
Labanya Baruah was the daughter of Kanaklal Baruah, the author
of “Early History of Kamrup.’
A brilliant student since her childhood Uma Baruah had her
early education at a convent in Shillong and Gokhle school of
Calcutta and read up to the senior Candridge Standard. She was
married to Mriganka Baruah, the eldest son of playwright
Jogendra Nath Baruah.
Uma Baruah’s father Keshab Kanta Baruah was very keen for
doing whatever he could for the development of Assamese
language and literature. Establishing “Jayanti”, His worthy
daughter Uma Baruah was endowed with quite a good number of
enviable qualities. Despite her blue blood and her education
in English medium School, she could adjust herself within-laws
family having the traditional way of life.She had the
opportunity of meeting people from different walks of life and
was at home with all of them. As a matter of fact she still
remains a role model of a perfect housewife.
It is generally noticed that most of the women after marriage
sacrifice their own likes and dislikes, individual taste and
respond to the new environment of the in-laws family. But Uma
Baruah did not allow herself to be lost in the humdrum of
family life and retained her own identity. Despite her being
educated in English medium school, she made valuable
contribution to Assamese literature.
Uma Baruah was deeply interested in reading books. Her
favorite writer was P.G. wood House. She retained this habit
of reading book till the last days of her life. Her literary
talent found expression in two novels she wrote in Assamese.
One was ‘Siene Nadir Dhou’ (Waves of the river seiene and the
other was ‘Nisar Andhare Awari’ (engulfed by the darkness of
the night). She has to her credit a collection of short
stories tilled ‘Sesh Surujar Rengoni’ (Last rays of the Sun)
Besides writing a good number of poems and articles, she
edited a monthly magazine ‘Ajanta’ Since publication of a
magazine needs financial support, she personally went from
office to office for collecting advertisement. After 5 years
the publication of the magazine came to a halt, possibly due
to financial constraint.
During that period she had the opportunity of coming into
contact with the ‘News paper publishing Association of Assam’.
She was elected president of the All India Federation of Small
and Medium News paper, Assam branch. For sometimes she served
as the President of the All India Association, Uma Baruah was
closely associated with the ‘Sodou Asom Lekhika Samaroh,’ a
premier Literary and cultural organization of Assam. She was a
member of PEN (play wrights, poets, poets, Essayists,
Novelists) International and made Assam proud by her
participation in literary seminars, held in London and
Uma Baruah was the Secretary for a few years of the Assam
branch of the Indian Council for child welfare. She led a team
of five hundred children for the International Children’s
Meet, held in Delhi. Her organization skill was admired by
all. She participated in the famous Assam Movement launched by
the All Assam Student’s Union. Under her initiative ‘Assam
Women’s vigilance Committee’ was formed. When her husband died
in 1982, she gradually kept herself away from public work. Her
husband was the source of inspiration in all her public
activities. Though her public activities were waning, yet she
was far from being self centered and did whatever she could for
solving the problems of the family and her neighbours as well.
Generous and Cultured, Uma Baruah was free from all prejudice
and superstitions. The most noticeable trait of Uma Baruah’s
personality, was her organizing ability, This trait came to
light when she participated in the famous Assam movement.
Despite the fact that she was extremely beautiful she was not
proud. A multifaceted personality, Uma Baruah left her mark as
a successful creative writer. She traveled both Europe and
America and tried to understand their culture and their way of
life, well versed in English and Assamese language, Uma Baruah
wrote quite a good number of poems and articles in both the
language, But these writings are not readily available
Extensive travel in Europe and America provided her an
opportunity of experiencing various aspects of human life.
When she visited the city of Paris and stood on the banks of
the river Siene she flew on the wings of imagination and that
imagination gave birth to her celebrated novel ‘Sicne Nadir
dhau’ as mentioned earlier.
When she saw the Latin quarters dwelling place of the artists,
she expressed her feelings as follows-
“The EL .Dorado of the artists
The refuse of broken hearts
Under the garish Quarters
The artists gather
Some seeking fortune
Others to barter their very souls”.
When Uma Baruah, engaged herself to write ’Sciene Nadir Dhau’
she saw in her imagination hundreds of young lovers roaming
around on both the banks of the river ‘Sciene’.Her imagination
created ‘Vasanta’.– the artist- the hero of the novel ’Sciene
nadir Dhau’. Written in three parts – in simple and lucid
language, the novel is so absorbing that one feels like
finishing the reading of the novel in one sitting. It was
published by Bivhitra Narayan Dutta Baruah of Lawyers ‘Book
stall and the first edition description of the Congress
session held in 1958 at Jalukbari.
With a stipend awarded by the govt. of India, Vasanta
Chowdhury, the protagonist of the novel, went to Paris to
study the art of painting.
At a second hand book stall over the river Siene in Paris, he
was enamored by the indescribable beauty of Blanchi. He fell
deeply in love with her. She was, as it were, a golden ray
illuminating his soul. But when he let her know that he cannot
give up art for her sake, she left him. Blanche lingered in
his memory throughout his life, and could not take Alaka’s
genuine love easily. On these one hand he had indomitable
interest in painting and on the other hand his financial
crisis. Alaka was disappointed to find that her deep love was
not properly reciprocated by Vasanta. With a broken heart she
ultimately died. The description of her tragic death was very
All the characters of the novels are carefully depicted, in the
central theme of the novels is a conflict between an artist’s
love for his work and his longing for his beloved. Uma
Baruah’s second novel – Nisar Andhure Awan’ was published
in1967, by Bibhubhusan Chowdhury, Chapala Book Stall.The novel
deals with the sufferings and disappointment of a woman
confined to jail. Surabhi, who tells the story, how she was
enchanted by the tune of flute played by Parag, just as Radha
indulged herself in love for Sri Krisna, who played the flute.
Despite her deep love for Parag, she could not get him as her
husband. Instead, she was married to a tea planter, His
weakness for alcohol, and his longing for Violet – the dancer
made Surabhi’s life miserable. She developed a sense of hatred
for her husband so much so that she when back to her mother’s
home, with her child. She felt happy when she found herself
near Parag. But as bad luck would have it, Parag suddenly
died. Surabhi thought that the ill natured woman was
responsible for Parag’s death and killed her. She was charged
of murdering the women and was sent to jail. Surabhi’s husband
tried to get her release by pleading that she was mentally
unsound. But Surabhi confessed everything and wanted to free
herself from the bondage of life.
Both the novels show the defeat of women and end with their
death. They surrender themselves to God being unable to bear
the ‘Stings and Sorrows’ that affect their lives.
Uma Baruah’s ‘Sesh Surujar Rengoni’, a collection of short
stories, was published in 1965. Altogether twelve short
stories found place in the collection, two of which are
translation – one from English and the other from French.
Though the stories cannot claim any technical innovation, yet
they capture some emotional moments, and loneliness of a few
The number of woman coming into contact with the people of
other countries is very few. Uma Baruah had that opportunity
and her novels and short stories are replete with her
experience of human nature. No doubt, she made valuable
contribution to enrich Assamese Literature.
On the fateful day of 10th September, 1991, Uma
Baruah left for heavenly abode, due to massive heart attack.
But she will remain a role mode for us and will be remembered
as a successful creative writer.