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Bindu’s Son: Sarat Chandra’s ‘Bindur Chhele’ (Chapter – 1)

May 12, 2024 | By

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novella Bindur Chhele is an unusually moving, emotional saga of love, sacrifice and pure human bonding between Bindu and Amulya, the son of her sister-in-law Annapurna.

Starting today on Mother’s Day, the day dedicated to celebrating the unconditional love of mothers, LnC brings you a Special Series — Bindu’s Son, Lopamudra Banerjee’s translation of this beautiful story of a mother’s unwavering affection for her son. 📖💕

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, alternatively spelt as Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938), was both a popular and acclaimed  Bengali novelist and short story writer of the early 20th century. Many of his significant fictional works deal with the lives and struggle of the village people and also the contemporary social practices that prevailed in Bengal. In many novels and stories again, his strong female protagonists come to the fore, expressing and manifesting their feminine selves with extraordinary strength and resilience of human character. He remains the most popular, translated and adapted Indian author of all times.

His novella ‘Bindur Chhele’ which some also refer to as a long story, was published in 1913, and in it, he depicts the unusually moving, emotional saga of love, sacrifice and pure human bonding between Bindu and Amulya, the son of her sister-in-law Annapurna. It documents the truth that more than biological ties, it is the affinity of the hearts that define relationships, and that universal truth/emotion lies at the centre of the narrative.

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Chapter 1

 

Jadav Mukherjee and Madhav Mukherjee were half-brothers, not born of the same mother’s womb. However, not only had they themselves conveniently forgotten this fact, but the people they knew had forgotten it too. Jadav had been successful in educating his younger brother as a lawyer in spite of his never-ending penury. His mission was further accomplished when he was able to bring home the only daughter of a wealthy zamindar as the bride of his brother. The new bride Bindubashini was unparalleled in her beauty. When she entered their humble household with all her dazzling beauty and ten thousand-rupee notes as her dowry money, Jadav’s wife Annapurna wept tears of joy.

In the glaring absence of other women, Annapurna happened to be the matriarchal head of the household. She proudly exhibited the new bride to the neighbour women as the newfound badge of honour of the family, comparing her grace and beauty to that of Goddess Lakshmi. But she realized her mistake after a few days. To her utter dismay, she discovered that the new bride Bindubashini had not only brought her beauty and wealth in the house, but also a heavy concoction of haughtiness and hyperactive sentimentalism.

One day, she called her husband quietly and said: “I know you brought her into this house for her abundant beauty and wealth, but do you realize she is nothing but a snake?”

“I see…I see…” Jadav said, scratching his head in his habitual fashion and went away, and his wife realized that he didn’t believe what she said, being the simpleton that he was. His daily routine consisted of visiting the local zamindar, his employer and worshipping the Gods at home. Madhav, his younger brother was significantly younger than him, and had just started practicing as a lawyer.

Bouthan (sister-in-law), why had Dada been so impatient about the money? I will surely earn enough money in just a few days’ time!” Madhav remarked, coming up to Annapurna.

The worst part was that no one in the house could ever reprimand Bindu, the new bride, for anything. Her nerves were hyper-sensitive; hence she would get unconscious at frequent intervals, which caused a lot of tension and madness within the household. Most of the time, calling a doctor in those hours was utmost necessary. Within a few days, everybody acknowledged the marriage as a grave mistake, but Jadav was the only one to think differently.

“No, you all are wrong somewhere! And you’ll realize that sooner or later. She is blessed with the divine beauty of Goddess Jagatdhatri…can that be futile?” He kept on defending the bride, going against the remarks of the other family members.

One day, Annapurna was petrified to discover the grim face of her sister-in-law Bindu, followed by some discussion which possibly took a wrong turn and upset her. She found her sitting still in a corner and sensed an impending doom. Suddenly, a thought occurred to her and she ran inside her room and brought her sleeping infant son Amulya to Bindu’s room. Hurriedly placing the one-and-a-half-year-old Amulya in Bindu’s lap, she ran away. The child started wailing loud, awakened from his comforting slumber.

Bindu was just about to faint at the sudden turn of events that was wreaking havoc on her soul, but she controlled herself with all her might and left the room, with little Amulya tucked to her bosom. Witnessing the scene from a distance, silently, surreptitiously, Annapurna was relieved and happy to discover this wonderful antidote to her sister-in-law’s ailment.

Since Annapurna was entrusted with mammoth responsibilities of the family, she was often unable to attend to her child Amulya. She would become sick if the child didn’t let her sleep at night, hence Bindu was given the responsibility to take care of him for most part of the day, and also during the night.

A month later, she entered the kitchen with Amulya in her lap and commanded: “Didi, where’s my Amulya’s milk?”

Annapurna was working in the kitchen. She sensed Bindu’s authoritative presence instantly and said, rather fearfully: “Just give me a minute, sister. Let me boil it and give him.”

Seeing that the milk was not ready yet, Bindu got furious. “I think I had said yesterday, that I want the milk ready at eight o’clock, but see, it is nine already! If you find the task so difficult, why couldn’t you tell me, didi? I could have arranged for some other way…”

She turned to rebuke the cook who was in the kitchen: “Don’t you have any sense, Bamun meye? The entire family’s lunch preparation could have waited for two more minutes, isn’t it?”

The cook, a young Brahmin woman, remained silent. Annapurna, feeling the urgency to defend her from the onslaught, said: “We could very well have sense, dear, if our only job was to dress up the child and apply kajal in his eyes. Why can’t you be patient for a minute, chhoto bou?”

Bindu got furious again, at this statement. “I swear by your name if you ever handle the task of preparing Amulya’s milk again, and I swear by my own name if I ever tell you to.” She uttered, wrathfully, forcefully thrusting little Amulya on the ground. She placed the pan with the milk in the hearth, and lit the fire.

Amulya, bewildered at the happenings, started shouting. Bindu, trembling in anger, squeezed his cheeks and said: “Quiet, I said, you wretched boy, keep quiet! I will kill you if I see you raising your voice again!”

Bindu’s Son Special Series is published every Wednesday.

Click here to read the chapters

Sarat Chandra Bindur-Chhele (Bindu's Son) english translation

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Lopamudra (Lopa) Banerjee is an author, editor, poet and writing instructor staying in Dallas, Texas with her family, but originally from Kolkata, India. She has a Masters in English with thesis in Creative Nonfiction from University of Nebraska and also Masters in English from University of Calcutta, India. Apart from writing and editing some critically acclaimed books and being awarded with the Reuel International Prize for Poetry (2017) and for Translation (2016), she has dabbled in all genres of writing, from journalism and content writing to academic essays and fiction/poetry. She has been interviewed in various e-zines, literary blogs and also at TV (Kolkata) and at radio stations in Dallas, Texas. Very recently, she has been part of the upcoming short film 'Kolkata Cocktail', a docu-feature based on poetry, but her love for writing feature stories go back to her journalism days when she interviewed people from all walks of life and wrote essays and articles based on them. She loves performing poetry as spoken words art and has performed in various forums in India and USA.
All Posts of Lopamudra Banerjee

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