Poetry for the Nation, and for the Heart:
Born in 1898, on March 23, Nalini Bala Devi needs no introduction. The work she produced during her lifetime resonates with young ones – who take the time and make the effort to study it – even now. Born to a life of tragedies, but at a time when women were still expected to stand behind men, and live upto expectations of subservience she became known in her own right as one of the best female poets of her time.
Born to a freedom fighter father, who was hung for his involvement in the Quit India movement – she developed a passionate sense of responsibility towards the country, and her people and it of course it showed in her creative pursuits - she eventually became a poet who wrote about nationalism and has been an important part of Assamese literature, and won the prestigious Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi awards.
Her attraction to literature was something that was a part of her life since she was a child. She wrote her first poem, titled Pita, when she was only 10 years old. It was her father, an ardent supporter of women's rights, who ensured Nalini Bala got the education she deserved. He also pushed her to achieve her best, thus instilling a sense of purpose and confidence that she held close to her as long as she lived.
She wrote for herself, for her father, for her the nation, and for the people fighting for it, for the people who needed inspiration. Even after she lost so much, she continued inspiring people. She also wrote mystical poetry, connecting another part of herself to her readers.
Her poetry has since been translated and published by institutions such as Calcutta University. She went on to publish numerous works, including the critically acclaimed Alakananda. Nalini Bala eventually became one of the best poets of Assamese origin and one of the best female poets of her time. She also wrote a drama, Meerabai, and established a children's organisation, now famous as Moina Parijat.
On December 24, 1977, Nalini Bala Devi passed away. But she continues to be remembered for her deep and urging poetry. Read by thousands, remembered by thousands – she lives on in the hearts of revolutionary poets and burns a sense of nationalistic ardour to help create poetry we need to help us through.