Freed from sedition, Assamese poets focus on maths

Assam poet Barsashree Buragohain.

Assam poet Barsashree Buragohain. , Photo credit: The Hindu

The 17 syllables of a haiku or the 14 lines of a sonnet had long ago convinced Barasashree Buragohain that poetry was mathematical. Two months in prison now forces him to do math in the face of his poetic will.

Police had picked up Ms Buragohain from a friend’s house in eastern Assam’s Uriyamghat on May 17, 2022, for posting an “objectionable poem” on Facebook. The title of the poem is Akou Korim Treason‘ (‘Will rebel again against the nation’) was seen as an endorsement of the banned extremist organization United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent).

Charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), he was sent to Jorhat city jail the next day. He was released on bail two months later and on 16 March was acquitted of all charges of sedition.

“I think twice before using certain words or phrases which I thought were quite normal to be in the arsenal of a poet who is passionate about what is happening around him. But in examining such words There is no joy in what one might find objectionable, and that may be the reason why I do not write poems as often as before,” Ms. Buragohain, 19, said. Hindu From his home in Kavoimari, a village near Teok in Jorhat district.

It is not only the law that has stopped the flow of his creativity. Her parents are also advising her to keep calm and not post her poetry on social media.

“I find it hard to kill the germs inside. I am writing my thoughts in verses but not as often as I used to. Also, I am concentrating more on maths as I wrote from prison the second semester. Did not do well in two papers of M.P.

Read this also | Jail becomes examination center for Assam’s teenage poet

Ms. Buragohain will revise these papers — real analysis and calculus — along with her fourth semester exams at Devi Charan Baruah Girls’ College in Jorhat. She is pursuing her graduation course in Mathematics from this college affiliated to Dibrugarh University.

He easily adapted to poetry as well as mathematics while studying at Kavoimari High School. Having scored more than 80% in 10th standard, she chose science as a subject at Teok Girls’ Higher Secondary School. Mathematics was selected on the basis of equal marks in 12th class board examination.

“Assamese literature fascinated me at a very young age and I longed to write like my favorite poets, novelists and essayists including Nilamani Phukan and Parag Kumar Das. With age, the subject matter of my poems changed from flowers and trees to love and pain and socio-political issues,” said Ms. Buragohain.

Socio-political poems soon sparked protests.

“If I had posted the entire poem for which I was jailed, I might not have been punished. I used only two lines in my Facebook bio and it was described as a supporter of a banned organization.

“I am tired of explaining to people that I had no terrorist group in mind when I wrote the poem. I was perhaps too naïve or too emotional to use certain words. Those who know me understand.’

Ms Buragohain wishes she could erase the 62 days she spent in prison from her life, but the memory continues to haunt her. He posted two factional articles on his experience behind bars on social media but these were “heavily self-edited” accounts.

“I may put those 62 days – my thoughts on my present, my fear of my future being destroyed, my career on the line, may I pick up the pieces of my life – in a book someday. With the world around, I would like to take my time as I want my family of six to be comfortable.

It has become difficult for him and his family to overcome this crisis. In his village, talk always turns to this. Jelot bulk Suvali” (Assamese for ‘the girl who was in jail’).

“You can’t stop people from talking. Thankfully, there are many people besides my family members who are helping me stay strong. They include my college teachers and some friends,” Ms. Buragohain said.


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