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NALINIBALA DEVI (1898-1978)


Nalinibala Devi was a poet and writer, the daughter of Nabin Chandra Bardoloi and the best known female poet of her era. Her father was an enlightened man who believed in women’s rights. She wrote her first poem, ‘Pita’, when she was 10 years old. Her father then moved to Calcutta so his daughter could be educated, and there he made her read and broaden her mind. She was married at the age of nine, had four children and became a widow eight years later in 1917. In 1922 her father was jailed for his part in anti-British agitation, and her five-year-old son was burnt to death. She assuaged her sorrow by writing poems and letters to her father in jail. Her first collection, Sandhiyar Sur, came out in 1928. Later, in 1935, her father’s death coincided with that of her son Pabitra. She began writing for literary journals to support herself.

She was President of the Asom Sahitya Sabha in 1954. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1957. In 1969 she won the Sahitya Academi award for her poetry collection Alakananda. She also wrote children’s dramas like Mirabai, Prahlad, Parijotor Abhishek, an essay collection published as Santipath (Path of Peace, 1971), a biography of her father titled Smrititirtha (Pilgrimage of Memory, 1948) and an autobiography, Eri Ahaa Dinbor (Thus Pass My Days, 1976).
 
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