With the demise of Preeti Barua, who breathed her last on November 4 at the age of 85 due to old-age aliments, a distinct chapter of literary movement and social activism for the cause of empowerment of the deprived and suffering people has come to an end. Barua was a writer, an educationist and a social activist; and through all these aspects of her persolity she made a significant contribution in the fields of contemporary Assamese literature and social life.
Honoured with the ‘Sahitya Akademi’ award in 2004 for her Assamese translation of ‘Rathchakra’, a popular marathi novel by Sripad rayan Pendse, Preeti Barua became a prominent literary figure with the appearance of her short story collection ‘Nirarthak’ in 1962. Acclaimed as distinguished translator, besides ‘Rathchakra’ she rendered several other important literary works, both Indian and foreign, into Assamese as ‘Aakash Neela step,’ ‘Rip van Winkle Aru Eti Nidralu Gahbarar Kahini’, Sankir Toran’, Setu’, Bireshlingam’, Aghari dir Sot’ etc.
Her contribution towards children litrature is also noteworthy. She started and edited a popular children’s magazine in Assame med ‘Akash’ during the early 1980s. In the 1970s, she ran ‘Shishu Tirtha’, a literary and cultural centre for the intellectual development of the children. Founding ‘Asom Mahila Sangha’ and ‘Asom Lekhika Sangstha’, she contributed remarkably towards the uplift of Assamese women in both social and literary spheres.
Born on November 3, 1931 at Jorhat, Barua started her professiol career in teaching in 1955 and served B Barooah College, Gauhati University and Handique Girls’ College. Wife of late Prasanta Barua, she was also the sister of eminent poet late Hiren Bhattacharya. I used to call her ‘Baideu’ who encouraged me a lot to write for ‘Akash’ during my early days of literary activities. I shall always remember her love and affection to me as a brother. On her Adya Shraddha today, I pay my humble tribute in the revered memory of Preeti Baideu.