Saturday, May 29, 2010


“Apurbabala” the name itself brings out her real personality. She is no more but her vibrant personality lingers on in our mind all the time. We relocated to Guwahati from Mezenga Tea Estate when I was six years old and started living in the Barowari Temple area of Uzanbazar. Our most immediate neighbours were two well-known Bharalai brothers,( Ramananda and BibekaNanda), Land Lord, Satyanath Borah , Scientist and Book sellers Purna Bharali beside ace photographer and Sportsperson of yester years Dhaniram Bora . In such august environment the most powerful and outstanding personality was Apurbabala Bharali who commanded respect from all the neighbourhood especially from all the children of the locality. She was loved, respected. adored and sometime feared by all of us –the Children of the community..

She virtually was the mother of the small community where we grew up, hence we used to address her as “Guwahati- MA”. We used to obey her wishes all the time. She was our dear Mom beside our own biological mother. She had such charisma that she could command respect from all of us. She was a strict disciplinarian. As the evening approached she used to advice the children “Evening has set in, now stop playing .It is time for study. Go back home, wash yourself well and sit down for study.” Her wishes were order for us. Guwhati Ma’s Charisma was so great that even all the parents of the neighborhoods valued her suggestions and command.

She was a kind and compassionate person. Once , Dhaniram Bora installed a Table Tennis Board for the children of the neighborhood and every body brought his own rackets to play on the board. I had no racket of my own. So, I used to stand and watch the game from a distance. Perhaps “ Guwhati Ma” was observing my plight from the distance of her compound and advised “Apanti”, her illustrious son , to lend me his racket so that I can also participate in the game. With the cooperation of Apanti ,my childhood friend, I learnt and picked up the game and ultimately played the game representing my school in All Assam Sports Tournament in the year 1956-57. Apurbbala was an emancipated Lady and had no hesitation to talk to any one of the neighbour hood to adhere to discipline behaviors in the community life.
She was indeed a spiritual lady rather than a deeply religious person. She had her own philosophy of life . She believed that the religion was the expression of the divinity with in human heart. It was the extension of this philosophy that found expression in her life.. Her compassion came from her belief in this philosophy. When her eldest son Pranabnanda became one of the toppers in intermediate science examination all the elderly ladies like our mother Progywati started congratulating her for being the proud mother. But she remained steady fast and told her admirers that it was more important to become wise rather than to create record in an university examination.

Though compassionate, she was also a strict disciplinarian. We learnt to behave wisely for she used to take great interest in our activities. Nayanananda, her second son ,now Managing Director of Bharali Brothers Ltd, started a small community library in their House. It was not only for the benefit of their family but for the benefit of the children of the entire neighborhood. Later, we learnt that the prime mover of the concept was Apurbabala along with her only daughter Tutul Baruah (then Bharali).

Guwahatir Ma lived a full life of respect. She was a healthy person and used to cook delicious meals .On every birthday of her children she is to invite all of us and used to feed us “paramanna” to our heart’s content. The taste of that “paramanna” prepared by her is still lingering in the taste buds of my mouth. When she reached the age of Ninty years I received a telephone call from Chandra Da, (Chandra Prasad Saikia- the great literature) to attend a ceremony organized to honour her at her residence at Guwhati. I am still regretting that the ceremony could not be attended by me on that occasion as I had to be away abroad in connection with the publication of my book on Tea . Later, on my return from abroad I visited her and wished her greetings and paid my respect. She was full of humility .She replied “ it is the grace of God that I am still alive .I am neither overwhelmed nor feel sad for my long life.” Guwahati Ma has left for the heavenly abode creating a big vacuum in the society she lived. She is no more in this world but her fond memories remained with us that would keep us alive to the values she cherished most.


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