Saturday, 5 March 2011

Munin Barkotoki Award Meeting

My first thoughts after the Munin Barkotoki Award Meeting on 5th March 2011

The Munin Barkotoki Awards for 2009 and 2010 were given away by distinguished Asamiya literateur Arun Sarma, in the presence, amongst many others, of distinguished Manipuri poet Robin Ngangom and my mother Renuka Devi Barkatati in a well-attended meeting at the Lakhiram Barooah Sadan in Guwahati. Arun Sarma khura spoke eloquently and very emotionally about his personal assocation with Baba and read out a few excerpts from Baba's Bismrita Byatikram. Robin Ngangom delivered a very powerful and excellently-crafted invited lecture on 'Poetry in the Time of Terror'. For me, however...

the personal high point was my first ever public speech in Assamese -- I had taken Upen Khura's help to write it down and had tried to rehearse it once, but the whole things was forgotten in a flurry of other activity till moments before I had to actually speak. Thankfully I found my sheet of paper on time and somehow managed to do my job. The occasion was the release of the book titled 'Winners All' comprising English translations of select pieces from the Prize winning entries of the first ten years (1995-2004). Pradip Acharya, the editor, had translated the poems and I had done the prose. Since Pradipda could not be present at the meeting, I had to speak. Another book in English titled 'Pensive Pioneers' edited by Dr. Sivanath Barman containing biographical sketches of some of the foremost Assamese men of letters was also released at the meeting.

The meeting also helped me to see more clearly a few facts -- first that the Munin Barkotoki Award has become widely known and established over the years and that it had moved out from being just a private initiative of the Trust to achieving a much wider level of acceptance and recognition. It was very gratifying indeed to see, besides many of our well-wishers and friends, so many distinguished Assamese men of letters, turning up for the meeting and happily sitting through the two-hour long meeting. And I felt very happy that Baba is not forgotten, at least till today. The next very happy realisation was the fact that I still had very many friends -- amazing people who had gone out of the way to help me get this meeting right, and shown once again that they still care. To balance these two very happy thoughts was the rather unhappy realisation that Ma was getting rather old -- she had done everything that was required of her for yesterday's meet but it was hard for her to cope with the pressure. I'll have to find a way to manage things without burdening her too much in the years to come.

And that is a very sobering thought because a big event is ahead of us -- Baba's centenary celebrations are due in 2015. I hope I will somehow be able to see my way forward...

For the moment just want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped yesterday in so many different ways to make the meeting a success...

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