About the author:
Rabindranath Tagore is possibly the most famous poet to come from India. For his beautiful, profound and sensitive verses, which expressed his poetic thought, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
There are some stories that have you hooked by the characters, the setting of the novel and the simplicity of the language. These books, I feel, are very rare. One such book I came across was written by one of my favorite poets, one of the greatest writers and one who is well respected around the world. Rabindranath Tagore is known more for his soul stirring verses perhaps than his novels, but a book by him still appealed to me and it was as good as poetry in prose.
Chokher Bali is not a story that all would love. It doesn’t flow quickly, and neither can it be finished in one day. It’s a family drama, set in the time when families were more orthodox than they are now. It speaks of traditions and superstitions. It is the story of the young widow Binodini, who follows the customs by returning to her village to live there for a couple of months after her husband’s death, yet accepts the invite into the house of Rajlakshmi, who lives with her son Mahendra and his wife, the young and naive Ashalata. The story is about the intricacies of emotions like love, passion and desire. Not just the love of Mahendra for Ashalata, but of Mahendra’s love for his mother, his mother’s affection for Binodini, Bihari babu’s deep friendship with Mahendra, the odd friendship formed between Ashalata and Binodini and a lot other inset emotions. But most of all its of that love of Mahendra towards Binodini, who he thinks is more a match for him than Ashalata.
The story weaves in and out of the lives of these characters with consummate ease, stitching culture and love together. Tagore creates deep characters and tells more with simple words better than any writer I know of. He takes us back to the time of British India flawlessly. If I knew to read Bengali, I would read the original. There’s always something different in a translation. I’ve to read some of his other works now, prose ones I mean. It’s beautiful to have a story speak to you.
Title: Chokher Bali
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by: Radha Chakravarty
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR 299
(Oct 6th, 2013)