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The Writer And Her Revolution

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Assamese litterateur Indira Raisom Goswami, who had undertaken the initiative to bring the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to the negotiating table, today passed away at a hospital in Guwahati after prolonged illness.

The condition of 69-year-old Goswami, who suffered a cerebral stroke in February last, turned critical last night and she was declared dead at 7:45 AM. She was in a paralysed state and on ventilator support. Goswami had been taken to a hospital in New Delhi earlier this year for further treatment but was brought back to her home in July and was undergoing treatment at the GMCH since then.

A Ramayani scholar, Indira Goswami was conferred the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1982 and received the Jnanpith award in 2000 for her overall contribution to Assamese literature. Some of her most famous works include Datal Hathi Uwe Khowa, Neelakantha Braja and Adha Lekha Dastavej, her autobiography. Goswami was also honoured with the Asom Sahitya Sabha Award and the International Tulsi Award from Florida University for her book Ramayana-Ganga to Brahmaputra.

Preferring to write under the pen name of Mamoni Raisom Goswami, she authored several novels, short stories and scholarly treatises reflecting the angst and pain of people from varied backgrounds whose sufferings have deprived them of basic dignity and respect that all deserve. Goswami  took the initiative of persuading the banned ULFA to come forward for dialogue with the outfit even setting up the Peoples' Consultative Group (PCG) in 2003 and appointing her as an advisor. Goswami's efforts may not have yielded immediate results but it definitely paved the way for the ongoing talks' process between a group of ULFA leaders and the government.

Popularly called 'Mamoni Baideu', Goswami was born on November 14, 1942 in a traditional Vaishnavite family who owned a 'satra' (monastery) at Amranga in South Kamrup. She studied Assamese at the Cotton College and acquired a postgraduate degree in the same subject from the Gauhati University. Goswami published her first collection of short stories, Chinaki Morom in 1962 while still a student. She later joined the Modern Indian Language (MIL) department of the University of Delhi and went on to head its Assamese department. To honour her, the University made her the Professor Emeritus in 2009 after her retirement.

It was in Delhi that she flourished and earned acclaim as a celebrated writer with several of her stories set against the backdrop of the city. Her novels range from Mamore Dhora Tarowal, for which she was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1982, Ahiron, Chenabor Srot, Dasarathir Khoj, Tej aru Dhulire Dhusarita Prishta, Udaybhanur Charitra as well as Chhinnmasatar Manuhto, against animal sacrifice in the famed Kamakhya Temple.

(PTI)