She grew up wanting to write, but never got down to it. Florence Handique Rabha started off with administrative jobs and moved on to radio jockeying and becoming a TV show presenter before she decided to document the women celebrities she interviewed
I always felt inspired to write whenever I read articles and books by Indian writers. Many times, I felt like penning down my thoughts to share my day-to-day experiences, my observations, sensitivities, the good and the ‘not so good’ experiences of meeting interesting people from a variety of backgrounds.
I just wanted to treasure them in my writing, lest I forgot. The numerous incidents and people I have come across have either taught me a lesson or turned me into a more loving and understanding human being. I admit that the idea of writing about them some day did occur to me quite often. I could write about this wonderful life, nature, and about the beautiful world around me.
While growing up, I met people coming from a variety of backgrounds, groups, communities, religions and states – thanks to my father who was in the Indian Air Force and was posted to places like Srinagar, Barnala, Pathankot, Bangalore and Delhi. I grew up studying in different Kendriya Vidyalayas and colleges. I had wanted to start writing while at school itself, but I was not sure whether I had the required skill or not. Maybe I was just being too lazy to write and instead, found it a whole lot more interesting to be in the playgrounds, climbing trees, or engrossed in co-curricular activities at school like dancing, singing, acting in skits and plays, elocutions and declamations.
Then after my graduation in Commerce, I went on to acquire my master’s degree in English Literature from Punjab University. Having completed my formal education, I began my professional career spanning a couple of multinational corporations in Delhi doing mundane administrative jobs to earn a bit of pocket money!
I was never a serious student. Somehow I managed time to flip through my course books. It was a long way in time that I realized my little flair for writing when I became a radio jockey in one of the first FM stations of Guwahati in 2007. I would jot down my thoughts and speak out aloud in my own programme, ‘Direct Dil Se’ which used to be broadcast every day for two hours. I had at last found a place where I truly felt at home and became involved. My listeners loved what I shared with them. Their instant feedback gave me a tremendous ‘high’ and made me happy to know that my words could touch and inspire. My radio programme was in Hindi and by the Grace of the Almighty it was a huge hit. It felt nicer to know that people accepted me as an RJ, which was a new concept those days in Assam. I felt touched, overwhelmed and humbled by the amount of love and affection that I received from my listeners on radio.
People found a friend in the RJ. They would share their feelings with me. I realized I was a people’s person who loved people and music!
To do justice to my responsibilities as the mother of my school going daughter, I decided to shift from being a full-time RJ to a part-time one in 2008. Now I had just one radio programme every Saturday evening. Not wanting to miss anything in life, I wanted to enjoy every moment of motherhood and family too. Since I continued being part-time news presenter and TV anchor since 2004 (along with my radio job), I was given an opportunity to anchor a show on television called ‘Woman’ by the MD of DY365, Dipannita Jaiswal.
I grabbed the opportunity. It was my favourite topic too. Being a woman, I thought I knew my subject well enough to do a television programme on it. Earlier during 2004-2005 while at NeTV, I had the pleasant experience of interviewing a multitude of well-known personalities on my breakfast TV show ‘Good Morning Northeast’ every day for about a year.
At DY365, I went ahead and began making episodes on different women achievers of Assam working in different fields. My list included remarkable women like Parbati Barua – the elephant queen, Seema Biswas – versatile actor and professionals, doctors, engineers, bureaucrats, litterateurs, social activists etc. The programme which was telecast once a fortnight in 2010 and 2011 became quite popular among the viewers as they found it very positive and inspirational.
My own experience of shooting the TV episodes with these celebrity women was rich and a great learning process. Most of the episodes were shot in Guwahati. I enjoyed every moment of shooting, directing, interviewing and production work. The final product gave me a sense of satisfaction. I wanted to treasure the moments and the experience as I had dreamt since my college days.
So, after completing thirty-one episodes, and before the number became too big to handle, in October 2011, I decided to start writing. The CDs of all the episodes were available in the library of my TV channel. The channel was kind enough to support me. I watched all the episodes repeatedly on my laptop before penning them down so that I did not miss a single scene or word. I sat for several hours and nights together to compile all the interviews to document them in the book form.
Fortunately, I carried my personal camera for the episode shoots. I had enough photographs of every shot and episode which got included in my book – ‘Celebrating Womanhood’. A local agency helped me in giving more beautiful photographs of the thirty women featured in the series and in designing the book.
After months of hard work, I could launch my first book, Celebrating Womanhood on the 22 July, 2012 in Guwahati, in the presence of most of my leading ladies, friends and well-wishers. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I have been receiving great support and love from the readers and all my friends since then.
All celebrity women in the book have been successful in their respective fields. I hope their stories will inspire many youngsters, especially young girls and women who want to do something worthwhile in life. I tried to highlight the contributions made by these women from Assam – to home, society and the nation. I have penned their stories as told to me during their interviews for television.
I hope this book will help all my young friends in the media who are on the threshold of this profession. I hope they appreciate this little gift from Florence Ba, with love, as I have been passionately involved in this field since 2004.
(Florence Handique Rabha can be contacted at email@example.com. Her book ‘Celebrating Womanhood’ is available in all the leading book stores in Guwahati. It is also available online on Flipkart.com and Amazon.com)