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Remembering Mamoni Raisom Goswami, the Jnanpith winner Assamese litterateur

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Batori24 Bureau
Batori24 Bureau
Batori24 is a Vernacular based Assamese news portal based in Guwahati Assam. We are a dedicated news channel covering news and stories across the globe with special reference to Assam, north-east along with National and International news.

Remembering eminent writer, poet, and scholar Dr. Mamoni Raisom Goswami on her death anniversary. Dr. Indira Goswami, also known as Mamoni Raisom Goswami and Mamoni Baideo, was an Indian editor, poet, professor, scholar, and writer. She was awarded the Jnanpith Award (2000), India’s highest literary honor, for her work on subalterns and marginalized people.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Image source: readersdelightdancerspride.wordpress.com

The focus on women and the cultural and political construct of Assamese society have been two of Goswami’s main features in her writing. It is also to her credit that she created one of the finest male characters in contemporary Assamese literature, namely Indranath in Datal Hantir Une Khowa Howdah (The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker). This work clearly demonstrates her contribution to Assamese feminist literature. She raises the issue of patriarchy in Assamese Brahmin families with an illustration from Amranga, Borihat, a small town in Assam.

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She chronicles the saga of a young Brahmin widow Giribala in The Saga of South Kamrup, originally called Une Khowa Howda in Assamese, who had eaten only rice and boiled pulses since her husband’s death and now shocks society by eating meat secretly.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Image source: readersdelightdancerspride.wordpress.com

The most glorious period of her life begins after she relocates to Delhi to become Head of the Assamese Department at the University of Delhi. She wrote the majority of her best works while attending university. Several short stories, including Hridoy, Nangoth Sohor, and Borofor Rani, were set in Delhi.

 

During this time, she also wrote her two classics, Pages Stained With Blood and The Moth Eaten Howdah of a Tusker. Ahiron, The Rusted Sword, Uday Bhanu, Dasharathi’s Steps, and The Man from Chinnamasta were the other books she finished while living in Delhi.
She served as a go-between for the banned secessionist group United Liberation Front of Asom and India’s central government.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Image source: readersdelightdancerspride.wordpress.com

Her participation resulted in the formation of the People’s Consultative Group, a peace committee. She describes herself as a “observer” of the ongoing peace process, as opposed to a mediator or initiator. She was a peace negotiator in the ULFA-government peace talks. Later, she was elected as a PCG member by ULFA.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Image source: readersdelightdancerspride.wordpress.com

Mamoni Raisom Goswami has received numerous awards, including the Sahitya Akademi, the Jnanpith, the Padma Shri (which she refused), the Asom Ratna, the Katha National Award, the Prince Claus award from the Netherlands, and several honorary doctorates. Her power was so great that she even acted as a go-between for the ULFA and the government.

Top Assamese Books of Mamoni Raisom Goswami :

  1. Datal Hatir Uye Khua Howda (The Moth-Eaten Howdah of a Tusker):

Indira Goswami wrote the novel The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker in Kamrupi dialect. The book addresses various social issues in Kamrup during the mid-twentieth century. It was first published in 1986 as Dontal Hatir Une Khowa Howdah and was translated into English by the author in 2004.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Image source: readersdelightdancerspride.wordpress.com

2. Adha Likha Dastabej (An Unfinished Document):

Mamoni Raisom Goswami’s autobiography is about her experience with chronic depression since she was a child. Goswami was obsessed with suicidal thoughts as a child, and she writes about her desire to jump off the cliff of Crinoline Falls in Shillong in this book. She had a major mental breakdown after the deaths of her husband and father and attempted suicide by ingesting sleeping pills. Her aunt, who was widowed at a young age and forced into a life of misery by the social conventions of an orthodox Hindu society, is also featured in her autobiography.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami
Image source: readersdelightdancerspride.wordpress.com

3. Chhinnmasatar Manuhto (The Man From Chinnamasta):

It is one of Mamoni Raisom Goswami’s most controversial novels, and it is about Goswami’s childhood experiences witnessing animal sacrifice at Kamakhya Mandir in Assam.

4. Jatra (Journey):

This book, about the long period of militancy and insurgency in Assam, is significant in the history of the Assam peace process. Goswami not only wrote about the state’s three-decade-long insurgency but also served as a peace broker between the United Liberation Front of Assam ULFA and the state government.

5. Neelakantha Braja (The Blue-necked God):

This 1976 fusion of reality and fiction tells the story of Saudamini, a widow who suffers from physical, emotional, and financial deprivation. The book expresses Goswami’s own experiences as a widow in Vrindavan.

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