Book- Choker Bali
Author- Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by- Sreejata Guha
From the book cover
It is the story of the rich, flamboyant Mahendra and his simple, demure, beautiful wife Asha- a young couple who are befriended by the pragmatic Behari. Their cosy domestic scenario undergoes great upheaval with the introduction of the vivacious Binodini, a young, attractive widow who comes to live with them. Asha and Binodini become bosom pals. Binodini is initially drawn to Behari but then begins to respond to the advances of Mahendra, who has become obsessively attracted to her. After several twists and turns, Binodini elopes with Mahendra, leaving the entire family in turmoil.
On one hand, A Grain of Sand: Choker Bali is a sensational account of two illicit relationships: Mahendra's infatuation with Binodini which blinds him to everything else, and Binodini's secret passion for Behari of which she is never able to speak. On the other hand, it is a complex tapestry woven by the emotional interplay between five finely etched characters: the impulsive Mahendra, his adoring mother Rajlakshmi, the frail and sensitive Asha, the strong, silent Behari, and the self-willed and irresistibly attractive Binodini.
A compelling portrayal of the complexity of relationships and of human character, this landmark novel is just as powerful and thought provoking today as it was a hundred years ago, when it was written.
Behari laughed. "Binod bouthan, with therapy like this the ailment is likely to intensify rather than subside."
Binodini said," How would I know that, we are only ignorant women. Is that what they say in your medical textbooks?"
Behari said, "Of course. This kind of treatment is making my own head throb. But my head had better get all right on its own. Mahin da's head carries a far greater weight."
Binodini dropped the wet cloth and said," Forget it then; let the friend treat his comrade."
Behari was growing quite impatient with what he saw. He had been busy with his books and wasn't aware of just how complicated a relationship this trio had cooked up in the meantime. Today he observed Binodini carefully and she too took measure of him.
This book has been on my wishlist ever since I saw the movie 'Chokher bali'. I started the book with a familiar note, but was in for a surprise as it kept moving. The movie and the book have nothing in common other than the same starting point. It was as good as reading a book that I had no idea of.
There is a kind of rhythm in stories that have been written years ago. Something about that era makes it so soothing and turbulent at the same time. Rabindranath Tagore is a master at emotions and when you experience such deep set feelings without there being any physical intimacy between the characters, you know it is a genius. You can't just read and not feel the agony of young, widowed Binodini. You hate her for her audacity to play games with a married man but you cant help feeling sympathetic to her plight. Her devotion towards nursing everyone's health, her efficiency at managing the house makes you admire her and even though shes a temptress, she is also a woman left unsatisfied by life.
The situations and emotions are so complex and yet so raw and genuine that you feel for them.
Choker Bali paints the changes that every character goes through so beautifully that you can actually imagine them happening right before your eyes.
If there was anything that I did not like, it was the ending. Rabindranath Tagore had himself told that he was unhappy with the ending and it is not without reason.
It is a book to read on a rainy afternoon or at a relaxing pace. It is only at such times that you truly can enjoy the richness of the words and appreciate the flow.
Price: 350 INR