Way back on October 11, 2009, Tarun Gogoi at the height of his power as chief minister of Assam for the second time running had celebrated his 75th birthday at the Press Club, Jorhat.

Gogoi, who was always a darling of the media, had been warmly welcomed and feted by the executive committee of the Club, the cake which had a musical figurine singing happy birthday had been ceremoniously cut and distributed.

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A visibly relaxed Gogoi seemed to have shed the burdens of everyday political skullduggery to engage in a tete-a-tete with the gathering made up mostly of reporters, his friends and colleagues.

Gogoi then at his witty best kept everyone in splits with his repartees.

In response to a query as to whether he had ever fallen in love, Gogoi admitted that he had tried to woo a girl once when he was in college but had been unsuccessful.

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Pointing out to his classmate Prafulla Rajguru (late) and then president of Press Club, Jorhat he said tongue in cheek that Rajguru had been more successful than him.

Rajguru, who predeceased Gogoi, had later told this correspondent that Gogoi had tried hard to woo the girl but she wasn’t keen at all.

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Regarding his dress code of white pyjama and kurta, Gogoi had said that he wasn’t averse to donning tees and had a few days ago worn a red T-shirt gifted to him by someone and gone and played golf at the Guwahati golf course.

Unknown to many, he let out that he would have liked to have been a teacher if he was given a second chance to relive his life.

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As to his greatest achievement and failure, he said he felt that his greatest achievement was when a group of young children had come up to him once and wished him well.

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His greatest failure, he said tongue in cheek, was that he could not satisfy all the media persons.

Regarding whether he had fights with his wife, Dolly Gogoi, the former chief minister had said which couple did not have fights. So how did he make up?

“It would be unnatural for a married couple not to have fights. It is, however, soon over between us. Unlike other couples, our tiffs do not stretch into sullen silence for hours or days and we soon make up. Either I make up or she does,” he had said.

Gogoi also confessed that he loved to read books but did not find the time due to his busy schedule.

He read up on newspapers and magazines on the go, he said.

“I know what each reporter will be writing about me so I read only the headlines in the newspapers,” he had said.

Loved and revered, there are few in Jorhat today, who do not mourn the passing away of the charismatic former chief minister whose down-to-earth magnetism and able statesmanship had led the Congress to victory in the state for three consecutive terms from 2001.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com