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In memoriam: Hirendrath Dutta

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 March 2016 12:00 AM GMT


The news of Hirendrath Dutta’s death came to us as a great shock. All his friends, well-wishers and admirers also felt the pang as deeply. He was in his late seventies and though the signs of old age began to be visible, he was still, on the whole, very much alive and even kicking, that is he was still vigorously engaged in his literary pursuit despite his occasiol physical ailments. The suddenness of his death, therefore, may appear to be inconsolable.

He was my colleague in the Department of English, Guahati University but as days went by our relationship became more informal: he became a warm friend of my family: to my sons he became their favorite Hiren-da. I always valued this relationship and shall always cherish it. In the University campus he was our close neighbour and we frequently met. I still remember his introspective look, his sensitiveness to vibrant ideas and his participation in intellectual discourses. Over the years I saw him grow and develop as a distinguished poet and critic- his criticism emating generally from problems faced by a practicing poet. But what impressed me most were his graceful humility and his liberal mindset free from all stains of ostentation or bias . He was never demonstrative : he did not play to the gallery. Subsequently when he won prestigious laurels , all of which were well deserved, he did not make any fuss about them. From a casual encounter with him, one could not have even guessed what agony he had to suffer to pursue his goal and how he did it with such serenity.

Shakespeare wrote:

Man must endure his going hence

As his coming hither

Ripeness is all

I could see something of this ripeness in him, he could accept the rewards and buffet of fortune with equal thanks. I am sure his students were impacted by these startling qualities of his mind.It may seem that my long life has turned me into an obituarist but I would rather call it a kind of memorial service rendered with a heavy heart.

May the departed soul find its habitation of peace.

By Amaresh Datta,

Professor Emeritus


Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond’s glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there. I did not die,

- Author Unknown

(from the Book of Rune Cards)

‘Baba Kokaideu’ poet, teacher, brother. If ever there was a gentle soul it was him. It was a privilege and honour to be his brother. Here I proudly put on record three words be told me on reading my poems “Good, keep writing.” That was more than enough! A persol milestone! A fickle and wayward life was suddenly touched by a ray of light. Thanks Baba Kokaideu I will forever cherish these words. Good Bye and Godspeed.

By: Devika th Hazarika

Remembering Sir......A Student’s Tribute

It was a reconnect that never materialized. After leaving the University so many years ago I had always imagined that one day I would go and seek out Sir and relive some past moments with him as a student and admirer. However the sad news of his demise crushed my hopes and revived memories of this modest, humble, wonderful person whom I am proud to call my teacher.

My first meeting with Sir, Professor Hiren Dutta, was outside his home in the University campus on the day our M.A. classes began. As my friend Utpala and i walked past from hostel to class an incredibly sweet toddler waved at us. He was with his father who spoke cordially to us. That little boy was Ronji with his father Prof. Hiren Datta .This was the beginning of a relationship which endured over our two years there. Baideu and Sir welcomed us to their lovely home and littie Ronji delighted us with his antics. This was years ago but it is all still vivid to me...especially Sir’s warmth, his interest, his compassion....all tempered with his trademark humility.

Sir’s achievements as poet, critic and litterateur need no retelling. his mastery of both Assamese and English gave him an acute insight into the literature of both the languages. he invariably expressed his ideas with great finesse. In fact he exuded knowledge. As a teacher Sir was the embodiment of dedication. We his student admired him immensely most of all for his passion for the subject. Much of that passion inspired us his eager students. Even now I remember how expertly he guided us through the nuances of Restoration Comedy pausing to revel in the foibles of Mirabell or to extol the charms of Millamant. Even now I smile as I remember the innuendoes and the wit which Sir exposed and explained. “.The best teachers teach from the heart not from the book”. .Dear Sir as I bid farewell to you I want u to know that through your competent teaching you touched our hearts..Physically you are no more but we your admiring students will ever miss you and will continue to be inspired by you. Rest in peace dear Sir. On this day of prayer we join the family in mourning your loss and seeking your eterl peace.

By: Biju Borooah

An Adorable Kinsman

Ever since I came to know him way back in the ‘70s it has been a cordial, warm and amicable relationship. We dropped by whenever we felt we had not met for some time, and each encounter was enough to sustain us till the next visit. He visited us too and the last ever time he spoke to me was when he visited us at our Kharguli house. When leaving he said “I will come again to spend a longer time here”, which sadly did not come to pass! This was the kinsman of whom the entire Dutta family of Titabor and Hazarika family Golaghat are proud, the enigmatic, effervescent, jovial Prof. Hiren Dutta, whom we affectiotely called Babai’ kaideo. Despite his years he retained the utter pristine childlike and wondrous attitude to life, all the way, and this endeared him to the young and old alike. His poetry exuded the flavor of the rural surroundings of his childhoods- the alluring sights and sounds of ture – homespun and honest to the core. In fact it was his undiluted humility and intellectual honestly that earned him the esteem of the intelligentsia in plentiful measure.

We will sorely miss his ear – to – ear playful grin, his affectiote ways, his candid eagerness for knowledge, and above all his interest and involvement in people around him. As one of his aggrieved neighbours said that in his passing away the local community had lost a staunch supports and advisor who was approachable, reliable and ever ready to aid and assist them at times of need. Eminent poet, critic and mentor that he was; the numerous accolades that he won, left him uffected, unpretentious and delightfully humble - a jovial human being with a heart of gold and a twinkle in his eye.

In reminiscence I recall the stimulating conversations we had on various occasions. Regretfully we could not meet frequently, but whenever we met it was an astonishing range of topics that kept us engaged. He would ask with keen interest about the xalite activism in my university campus (Jadavpur University in 70s), about Shillong (where I live), about the family, about flowers and my garden and, of course, our children, recalling their mes clearly which he never forgot till the last. He displayed his most sincere pleasure and pride at their wellbeing. It will truly be hard to find another one of his kind again. For he was a man of many parts, with his indomitable mental agility and unique concern and genuine urge for family and friends. Among his numerous qualities, his outstanding forte was his humour. Laughter is what keeps us going and I am grateful for to you, dear Babai Kakaideo, for the many laughs you provided, without your knowing and in your own inimitable style. He way have been short and slim in stature , but Babai kaidew, stood very tall indeed. A man possessed of the greatest wealth, the priceless qualities of hand and heart, which remind me of the profound Shakespearean dictum in Hamlet:

“….to thine self be true, and it must follow,

as the night the day,

thou canst be false to any man.”

As prof. Hiren Dutta walks into the sunset, I can only be grateful for having had the privilege of having him as one of our adorable kinsmen in this mortal world. May he be in Peace.

By: Julie Hazarika

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