Guwahati Today


Tribute to Boro Mama

History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later’. These words by Eduardo Galeano come to my mind as I make an effort to pen down a few lines about my uncle Late Kumudeshwar Hazarika who was a living and walking encyclopedia, a store house of exciting facts and figures revolving around his beloved city Guwahati in particular and Assam in general. Be it pre-colonial history or history of the British Raj, post-independence India or regional politics Mohun Bagan football big guns or the Ranji Trophy, Boro Mama, as I called him, knew it all. Not only did I marvel at his remarkable memory but the adrenaline rushed as he spoke of old Gauhati, the glitter in his eyes could encapsulate even otherwise disinterested people to listen to him. It is no wonder that he earned the soubriquet ‘Guwahatilogist’.
Kumudeshwar Hazarika’s contribution to the present generation has been immense. Reading the city through time and meticulously recording the developments taking place here from its semi-urban stage of the colonial days till date evolving into a metropolis has brought to the fore the urgent need to effectively manage social and physical changes and appreciate the role of communities in the conservation of historic values. Through his widely acclaimed book, Itihasar Cha Poharat Purani Guwahati, Late Hazarika subconsciously ignited the study and deliberations on the history of Guwahati a very popular subject, and young researchers, media persons and the laity thronged his residence to hear more from the man himself. If we read between the lines there is a subtle message one cannot choose to ignore, that is only sustainable development and not haphazard growth, can preserve the historicity of this gateway to the Northeast. A Founder Member of ‘Save Guwahati Build Guwahati’ he sought to draw the attention of the authorities to the daunting task ahead.
That apart, his depth of Ahom and British history fascinated me, because I would invariably learn something from him that I had not read in history books. Like for instance the procession of the Ahom Swargadeos as they entered Gauhati, the routes they took and the espionage system back then. As a young adult I literally squealed with pride when he casually told my sister, who was travelling to the Andamans, to look up the prison cell where our maternal great-great-great grandfather Dutiram Baruah and others had been transported for life for their involvement in the Revolt of 1857. What is more, the revelation that Dutiram’s father was Narayan Ghosh, a Bengali Bhadralok brought by the Ahoms from Bengal to serve in the administration left me dumbfounded. The sheer excitement of digging into your family history dawned on me and it will surely be the same for everyone.
Kumudeswar Hazarika retired as the Principal of Sonaram Higher Secondary School. A warm, simple, unassuming man, he literally cringed at the popularity and media attention he received. It goes without saying that he has done his father Thaneswar Hazarika, who had translated Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic Les Miserables into Assamese, very proud. On his Adhya Shraddha today I pay my respects to the departed soul, Om Shanti!
 nMausumi Mahanta