“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader” wrote Robert Frost. In going to read the novels of one such writer in the Northeast is no one else than Anuradha Sharma Pujari, the most eminent female editor whose golden pen did not stop for the last three decades in spite of the editorial responsibility and other occupations with the harsh reality of life.
More important is that her popularity is never on the wane. The exhaustion of the 28th edition of her book Kanchan and the eighth edition of her Sahebpurar Boroxun very well justified this claim about the increasing popularity of this female writer cum editor of Assam.
After her Masters in the Dibrugarh University, she gained popularity with her column in ‘Letters from Kolkata’ in Asom Bani weekly and she won fame all over Northeast with her novel in English The Heart’s a Showbitz translated from the fictional debut with her book Hriday Ek Bigyapan, published in 1998.
She got inspiration from Homen Borgohain who called this novel’ a contemporary classic as it raised some basic questions about modern Assamese life and the complexities of the glamorous corporate world that no other writer had raised before her in fiction other than Monisankar.
Till Mereng it was her masterpiece. The other remarkable experience that shaped her world vision as a writer was the invitation from the USA Government as a writer cum journalist to visit the continent and get exposure to remarkable people of the media world including the Editors of New York Times or Washington Post in New York, California Florida and other places and in the workshops of Columbia or Lowa University as one of the two writers from India and along with one from Pakistan and Nepal as an invitee with her.
She recorded the priceless experience of her growing up as a writer with world vision in her travelogue Americar Charaikhanat Sambad Bashanta in 2008. As a writer and editor, she inspired writers of all colours to contribute to Sadin over decades without compromising with media ethics.
Her popularity is the real reward that came from the readers of all age groups for the wide range of her subjects which is never to wane also in future.
Born in Jorhat, she studied sociology at the Dibrugarh University, and though it is not a campus novel proper, in Nahoror Niribili Cha (Shadows of Nahor)in 2005 for which she got Basanti Bordoloi Award her experience is fictionalized.
These realistic touches are a secret to her popularity as a writer. In a recent article one writer suggests that all newly married couples should read Nil Prajapati (Blue Butterflies) 2013 to understand the complexities of love among the married couples and all students should read her book Son Harinor Chekur( Race of the golden deer),2012 which is dedicated to the youth who are very serious and tensed about their career and often commit suicide when they failed. Her message was that life is a very interesting journey and they should not .die before their death.
She spent her childhood days in the tea estate of Assam alone like Emily Dickinson and reading was her pastime in her lonely hours of childhood as her father’s sudden accident caused a long separation from her parents.
Journalism became her passion and in her long decades of journalism brought her Asom Renaissance Award. Still, Anuradha Sharma Pujari maintained the balance and has been called “one of the most popular writers of this generation”, and her work traversed “the varied textures of human conflict” and covered the tension between the society and the individual including explorations of femininity and “the gaps that exist between people in a relationship All these have an irresistible appeal for the wide range of readership.
Ejon Eshworor Sondhanot (In Search of a God) was also published in 1998. Kanchan published in 2001 having 28th edition depicts the life of a girl named Kanchan who is incessantly cheated and sexually exploited by some men.
Sahebpurar Borosun (Rains at Sahebpura), 2003 is another novel that exposed the adventurous journey of social workers especially in a village named sahebpura. Boragee Nodir Ghat (The Banks of Boragee River), published in 2004, Raag-Anurag, 2007, Mereng in 2010 which mad a history like Rita Choudhury’s Ai xomoy Xei Xomoy or Makam (The Golden Horse) or Arupa Patangia Kalita’s Felanee is a wonderful story of a strong woman named Mereng or Indira Miri.
In Merong, she depicts a society of the earlier years of ancient Assam. The heroine Indira Miri narrated here the society of the 1910s. The comparison between the society of present-day Assam where people are victims of narrow parochialism reveals the difference when the ancient society of Mahichandra Sonadhar Senapati and Indira seemed to have been more advanced.
Sonadhar Senapati sent his eldest daughter Indira to Scottish Church College. Even Mahichandra Miri was the first science graduate of the Missing community and worked as a Forest Officer. The value of education is assessed by Indira and her father warned her about the dangers of casteism.
Jalachabi published in 2014 translated into English twice Ashes Still Whisper by Prof Bhaswati Parasar and also by Dr. Santana Saikia as In The Shadow of Light depicts how the problem of Alzheimer creates a gap between old parents and their children. The narrative of Jalachabi is heart-touching and reveals the social commitment of the writer.
Her Short story collections Boxontor Gaan (Spring-song), 1999 , Ejon Oxamajik Kobir Biography (An Unsocial Poet’s Biography), 2001, Catherinor Soite Eti Nirjon Duporia (An Afternoon with Catherine), 2005, No Man’s Land (short story collection) have won the heart of readers of all ages for their striking focus on varied social issues which arouse the interest of the readers.
Social realism is one very important factor in the novels of Anuradha Sharma Pujari also in her Kolikotar Cithi (Letters from Calcutta), 1999.,Diary, 2001.,Autograph, 2004., Sanbad Basanta aru Bandhu(essays),Alop Chinta Alop Gadya (Editorials Collection), Priya Manuh: Priya Katha, 2013
For Mereng she got Bishnu Rava Award. She was honoured with Kumar Kishore Memorial Literary Award from Asom Sahitya Sabha, in 2003.
Asom Sahitya Saha made Jalasobi ‘The Novel of the Year’. She got Chandranath Sarma Award for her lifetime achievement and contribution to Assamese Literature. Lekhika Samaraho Society conferred on her Sahitya Samman and these are a few to mention of many of her awards.
But still, readers gave her the best award and her popularity reveals that a writer lives in the heart of the readers, not in the certificates and medals.
Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee is a poet and columnist. He may be reached at: [email protected]