FROM THE PAST
Oral history Interviews
We often forget to keep a record when older people share their past experiences or narrate an important event they had witnessed. Oral testimonies and eye-witness memories are useful in documenting events and lives that might otherwise be forgotten. It is seen that official records, newspaper articles etc., often neglect more personal and private experiences. Through this section we attempt to preserve few of these voices.
The collection consists mainly of interviews and there's also a recording of a speech. We are indebted to Mrs. Karunamoyee Sharma of Guwahati for providing us with rare audio clips of three renowned personalities of those times - world famous orientalist Krishnakanta Handique, peripatetic antiquarian Benudhar Sharma and Poet Prasannalal Choudhury. Also finds place alongside them are interviews that we conducted of people who shared their personal experiences and told us their version of certain historical events of Assam that took place in the last century. Almost all of them, whom we interviewed have since passed away, which attest to the importance of the recordings. The interviews were taken in Assamese. For people not acquainted with the language, a write-up in English has been provided with basic information about each of the audio clips.
Audio recordings of a speech delivered by noted antiquarian, literateur, journalist and folklorist, Late Benudhar Sharma (1894-1981) during the birth centennary celebrations of Kormobir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi in the year 1975. Sharma speaks about the role of the renowned freedom fighter and how the nationalist ideals of Gandhi made inroads into the villages of Assam. He also shares his own experiences as a Congress volunteer during the non-cooperation movement, talks about the proselytising by INC workers in Axamiyā villages, the anti-opium movement and the antagonising sentiments harboured by the villagers towards them in the initial stages.
An audio recording of the interview of renowned poet and freedom fighter Late Prasannal Choudhury taken by noted educationist, public intellectual and socialist leader Late Ajit Kumar Sharma at the former's residence in Barpeta (1985). Choudhury was popularly called Biplovi Kobi or the revolutionary poet. His poems carry messages of nationalism, humanism and social revolution. Choudhury speaks to Sharma about the momentous role played by Assam's first student organization - Axom Satro Xonmilon (Assam Students Conference) and its leaders like Chandranath Sarma, Hem Barua and Omeo Kumar Das during the nationalist upsurge in Assam.
Audio recordings of the interview of Late Bhimsen Varma taken by Avinibesh Sharma at Guwahati. Varma's ancestors came from Peshawar in modern day Pakistan. His father Jagannath Varma was a renowned railway and military contractor during the colonial era. Varma reminisces about the Second World War when he worked as a telephone operator at Guwahati. He also shares interesting facts about old Guwahati shedding light on the city's prominent citizens, commercial places , cinema halls e.t.c. Varma once ran the famous Dipak hotel in Paltan Bazaar which was a favourite hang-out spot for the Romanian and Yugoslavian scientists working at the Guwahati Refinery while it was under construction.
Audio recordings of the interview of Shaukat Ali taken by Avinibesh Sharma on 23 February, 2016. Saukat Ali kept the spectators spellbound in the 1940s and 50s through his skills on the football field while playing for the Maharana Athletics Club of Guwahati that has produced some outstanding players like T.Ao, Sarat Das, Monaranjan Banerjee, Jiten Chowdhury, Nip Barua,Toshen Bora e.t.c. Ali was also a talented hockey player, a skilled hunter, a known stage actor and a notable artist having designed the logo for the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC). Ali reminisces his footballing days, his camaraderie with renowned footballers like Animesh Ganguly and Mewalal, his hunting experiences and how he became the creator of the rhino logo for ASTC.
Rohini Ranjan Kalita
An audio recording of the interview of Rohini Ranjan Kalita taken by Avinibesh Sharma in January, 2016. He is the son of renowned litterateur Late Dandinath Kalita. Mr. Kalita gives an eye witness account of the Tezpur town in the aftermath of the Chinese Invasion in 1962. Kalita met the 14th Dalai Lama in the Circuit House of Tezpur following his escape from Tibet in 1959.
Audio recordings of the interview of veteran theatre and film personality Tilmizur Rahman taken by Avinibesh Sharma at Jorhat on 18th January, 2016. Rahman now an octogenarian was the brainchild behind the award winning Assamese film Ronga Police that was released in 1958. Directed by Nip Barua, the film won President’s Silver Medal for Best Feature Film at the 6th National Film Awards (awarded in 1959). Rahman reminisces the making of the film in the first part of this interview. In the second part, he recalls the the fateful day, 15th August 1950 when an earthquake of magnitude 8.6 struck Assam and Tibet. He also gives an eye witness account of the Jorhat town during the Second World War.
Uday Shankar Saikia
An audio recording of the interview of renowned stage actor Uday Shankar Saikia taken by Avinibesh Sharma at Tezpur on 23 January, 2015. Saikia was a close aide of Bishnu Prasad Rabha and Phani Sarma, the two doyens of Assamese theatre. When Bishnu Rabha contested for the election to the Assam Legislative Assembly in 1967, Saikia campaigned for him. In this interview, he narrates his experiences during the campaigning throwing light on the popularity of Rabha among the masses and also how different election campaigning was then compared to today.