ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Indira Goswami: Brave, Gentle and Bold

Indira Goswami, aka Mamoni Raisom, the writer who died on 29 November, will not wield her brave pen again, nor will she gently smile and assert boldly the freedom of herself against all odds, but her phoenix-like ability to reinvent herself, her faith in herself to live life according to her own beliefs and ideals, and her gentle demeanour that endeared her to many, will continue to inspire.

Indira Goswami (who wrote under the pen name Mamoni Raisom Goswami) died on 29 November 2011 after a prolonged illness. She was in a state of coma for almost nine months and passed away quietly in that state, watched over by a small band of faithful friends and admirers who had been with her for all those months. Her last rites were performed by a niece because such was the wish of the writer. The Vedic rites for the peace of her departed soul were hurriedly completed within four days (not the traditional 11 days) because as reported in the papers, a childless widow deserves only a curtailed form of send-off from this world. Did Mamoni’s soul smile defiantly at this, behind the mask of her trademark heavy make-up which she wore even on her deathbed? Did she leave this world with the bitter knowledge that all her brave iconoclastic writings against social injustice will leave little mark on a society which is steeped in orthodoxies and superstitions even in the 21st century? We will never know because Mamoni will not wield her brave pen again, nor will she gently smile and assert boldly the freedom of herself against all odds.

Mamoni Raisom Goswami was born in Guwahati in 1942. She started writing fiction at the early age of 14 and her first stories were published in the children’s sections of Assamese newspapers. Her maiden collection of short stories Cinaki Morom was published in 1962 and after that she has published 14 novels, several short stories, a collection of poems (Pain and Flesh), an autobiography (Adhalekha Dastabej), a research work in English (Ramayana from Ganga to Brahmaputra) and other miscellaneous writings. “Writing was never my career. It was a passion… I write to enjoy my life. Without writing, I would have been a dead person”, says Mamoni. In her autobiographical work she has related how at every moment of intense pain in her life when she was suffering from a sense of almost pathological depression, the act of writing gave her the sublimation and enabled her to recover herself again and again. It is this power to recover and reinvent herself which separates the writer from some of her most memorable women characters in the novels. In most of her novels, the reader encounters women who are victims of social oppression, whose desires do not have social sanction, and consumed by the fire of unfulfilled desire, they are finally driven to self-destruction.

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