Life, Family, Friends

Munin Barkotoki was born at Jorhat on the Kati Bihu day in mid October of the year 1915, the younger son of Raisaheb Durgadhar Barkotoki, then Divisional Inspector of Schools, and Kamalini Devi, daughter of Padmavati Devi Phukanani (1853-1927) whose Sudharmar Upakhyan (1884) marks an early phase of the development of Assamese prose fiction in the nineteenth century.

From his mother's side, his great grandfather was Anandaram Dhekial Phukan (1829-59), pioneer of the nineteenth century Assamese renaissance, and his great great grandfather Haliram Dhekial Phukan (1802-32), an important custom official at Hadira Choky during the Ahom rule who rose in the esteem of the East India Company officials by virtue of his intimate knowledge of revenue administration and socio-political history of Assam.

Munin Barkotoki's elder brother was Satyen Barkotoki , a brilliant student of the University of Calcutta who later made his mark as a civil servant and writer. The last public post he held was the chairmanship of the Assam Public Service Commission. His Escapades of a Magistrate (1961) is perhaps the first book of its kind in English written by an Assamese. For more on Satyen Barkataki, see Satyen Barkataki: Jibon aru Krititta

In 1959, Munin Barkotoki married Renuka Devi Barkataki, a well known politician and social worker, and who was elected to Parliament in 1962 and again in 1977, when she became the Minister of State for Education, Culture and Social Welfare in the Janata Party ministry headed by Sri Morarji Desai. They have one daughter Meenaxi. For a concise biography of Renuka Devi Barkataki, written by Binoy Mohan Saikia, [Renuka Devi Barkataki: Jeevan aru Kriti]

Among his closest friends were celebrated story writer Krishna Bhuyan, Gyanada Sharma, Pramod Sharma ("Mitra"), Maheswar Kumar Deva Goswami and Lalit Hazarika (from Dibrugarh). Present-day stalwarts like poet Nilmoni Phukan, playwright Arun Sarma and distinguished critic Hiren Gohain were among his circle of close associates although they were much younger in age. He was perhaps closest to Upendra Barkataki who taught Assamese at Lumding College.

[With inputs from the 'Foreword' written by Ranjit Kumar Dev Goswami to A Munin Barkotoki Miscellany (1998, Guwahati: Book Hive)]

Gyanada Sharma

Lalit Hazarika

Krishna Bhuyan