Monday, November 15, 2010

A Diarist Par Excellence

Ajayananda Borah has been religiously pursuing his passion for over 50 years now. Photo by Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia
Dear friends, I have the honour of introducing you to Ajayananda Borah, an extremely interesting person, and in his own words, "a wannabe record breaker who seeks entry in the Limca Book Of Records by penning his thoughts since 1961 till date without a single day's break". Mr.Borah has been visiting our dental clinic for the last many years, and in spite of various chit-chats between us, this interesting side of him was not known to us (my husband, Dr Chandan Saharia, and I jointly run a clinic in Guwahati). In the first week of February this year, he invited us to attend his Golden Jubilee elebration of continuous diary writing (1961-2010) at the Guwahati Press Club. On a Thursday evening the same month, my husband and I visited his place. Here is a personal account of the things we talked about.

His diaries are 50 in number and all are labelled year wise. Photograph by Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia
When he first jotted down his thoughts in a personal diary as a schoolboy, he had no idea that his new hobby would become an abiding passion."My diary is entirely personal; I do not claim it to be a detailed record of contemporary events, but it definitely is a non-stop journey of half a century," Borah said when we began our conversation. His claim for a place in the Limca Book of Records is legitimate, and if his feat is recognised, Borah will edge out present record holder, Chandulall Chowdhury of Mumbai, who wrote diaries from 1965 only. Mr. Borah's personal notes run into 17,900 pages, and he has written more ever since our interaction with him. We had the pleasure of peering through all of his diaries (with his due permission, of course) as he believes that now his diaries don't belong to him alone. For my blogger friends, I clicked this picture where the very first and the latest pages of his diary are shown together.
Image courtesy: Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia's blog, http://www.kavitasaharia-myroom.com
He was born in 1943 at Biswanath Gymkhana European Club near Pabhoi tea estate in Assam, British India. In 1964, after his graduation, he started his career as a high school teacher and later on joined the All India Radio Dibrugarh as Programme Announcer since its inception in 1969; he retired in 2003 after 35 years of service. He has produced a number of radio plays and dramatised multi -serial episodes of novels. His very popular radio programme, DAK PAKHILI is still remembered by listeners where he used to reply to letters by listeners.
The first and the latest diaries. Photograph courtesy: Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia
Though he developed the habit of writing in 1954 when he just entered high school, he has no record of the initial years, as most of the jottings were on loose sheets. He started maintaining hard-bound diaries since 1961 in Darrang College where was influenced by the then principal, Bipinpal Das, and Dr. Amalendu Guha. "I was not directly influenced by anybody, but indirectly inspired by my high school teachers like BirenKakoty, KeshabMahanta and many others," he said.
Borah shows an extract to Dr Chandan Saharia. Photograph courtesy: Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia
To run my fingers through the pages of his diaries was amazing. He read out to us many interesting incidents recorded in his diaries: his wedding day, the cost of gold at that time (in 1978, gold cost Rs 880/10 gm), annual expenditure of the year 1963 (which was Rs 308), how he bought cloth for trousers at Rs 3/-, how petrol cost Rs 1.60 per litre in 1973, and so on. Apart from keeping record of national, international and local important events, he kept records of the climatic conditions, too. Events of the Assam Agitation are all portrayed very vividly in his diaries.
Ajayananda Borah's feat as recorded in the Asomiya Book of Records. Image courtesy: Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia
His day starts at 5 am and he always carries with him a piece of paper and a pen so that he can note down important things; at bed time, he records the day's events in his diary. He maintains an index volume of diaries for easy reference; he showed us the day when he, for the very first time, visited our dental clinic. Borah's record has been acknowledged by the Asomiya Book Of Records edited by Santanu Kausik Baruah (1st edition 2006).
Above you can see the letter written by Gupta Diary of Kolkata to Mr Borah, profoundly thanking him for writing on the diaries sold by the company for half-a-century. He has submitted adequate documentations to the Limca Book of Records and is awaiting their response (letterheads of the Limca Book of Records can be seen attached to the letter by Gupta Diary).

The world record of writing diaries is held by Colonel Ernst Loftus of Zimbabwe, who wrote diaries for 91 years until his death in 1987 at the age of 103. Asked if he has a similar aim, Mr Borah quipped, "It is simply impossible as I am already 67. Let me see how long I can continue. I will go on writing till the last day of my life."

Borah is trying to contact the Guinness Book of Records (International British Edition) to ascertain whether his feat of 50 years of continuous diary writing has any parallel.
His wife, Bella, is a very sweet and soft-spoken lady. They have two children: Abhinandan (son) and Monmayuri (daughter). The former is a medico and both of them reside in Delhi. Monmayuri, too, has been maintaining a diary for the last 10 years; Borah's sister wrote a diary for almost 20 years. I asked Bella if she too maintains a diary. She said every year since they got married, Borah has been gifting her a diary...but most of them are blank. We all had a good laugh over it.

We were treated grandly with many snacks, savouries and tea; and later, Borah showed us his large collection of music CDs and movie DVDs, a large number of playing card sets with unique designs, his badminton racket and many other things. Over all, it was an evening that would be etched in our memories forever.

I came back highly inspired and motivated...I hope to be more regular in updating my blog and contributing to mediAcre minds. Thank you all for reading.

By Dr Kavita Bhatt Saharia


Editor's note: Dr Kavita was a prized catch for mediAcre minds and has been helping us with ideas and content ever since she came on board. She has a knack for finding stories usually missed by the most expert of eyes. Her down-to-earth approach and lucid writing style automatically establishes an emotional connect between the reader and the writer. A Diarist Par Excellence was originally published in her blog: http://www.kavitasaharia-myroom.com; she generously allowed us to reprint it with certain modifications/additions. We thank her for that and feel honoured to have her presence.

4 comments:

  1. ya have read this before and good to read again..after all it has been written by none other than Dr K..best wishes to your team buddies...

    ReplyDelete
  2. i remember reading this lovely pc...pcs like this should be brought out to wider reading audiences . kudos to Mediacre Minds for the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As usual it is a very smooth and detailed account! And the best thing about your writings is that find a rhythm in it, which doesn't miss a bit anywhere.
    Cheers! Best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ramesh ,Myra ,Mani -Thanks a lot for your kind words !

    ReplyDelete