The Broken Home and Other Stories: Must Read Collection of Translated Tagore Stories
A review of Lopamudra Banerjee’s recently released book, The Broken Home and Other Stories (Authorspress, 2017), her English translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s selected works of fiction.
Reading The Broken Home, a translation of Tagore’s Novella, Nashta Nirh, I found the reformist society called Brahmo Samaj, a different religious society from the conventional Hindu culture. However, women’s liberation in its truest sense had not entered Bhupati’s house as Charu, the girl-bride who blossomed secretly and was overlooked by her husband, engrossed in the work of his own publishing house.
The passionate desire for love brewing in the mind of childless Charu was satiated through cultivation of literature, in the enthusiastic company of Amal, cousin of Bhupati, a student of 3rd year in college. Poetry and through it’s exploration, the warmth of Amal gave Charu an inexplicable sense of contentment. After a series of dramatic twists and turns, a telegram from London, sent by Amal opened the eyes of Bhupati, that being a man of Bengali renaissance, he had lost the meaning of Renaissance to his wife and within the family.
“Is it fair to dupe a dull, inexperienced monkey, one who does not recognize jewels, with fake stones?” Bhupati thought later.
Lopamudra Banerjee, the translator of ‘The Broken Home and other Stories’ cast a spell on me, and transported me to feel a oneness with the then ‘Bhadralok’ culture in Bengal where the repressed passionate cravings of a blossoming girl-bride echoed in the vintage aristocratic palaces in Bengal.
In Dena Paona (The Dowry Death), the echo of deprivation was heard in the silent voice of Nirupama, who was forced to die in the evil flame of dowry. The social evils of dowry and bride-burning is blazing harder every year, clouding all progress made by India and achievements on other fronts. What Tagore wrote more than 150 years ago is true even today. Today, thousands of lovely daughters-in-laws are being “burnt to death” for dowry every year in India. Lopamudra Banerjee with her impeccable skill of writing has exposed the harsh ironical reality. “While consoling Niru’s agonized father, people described the magnificence of her funeral ceremony, which they thought, had made up for the tragedy of her death.”
The writer has echoed the voice of Tagore, depicting the deprivation of woman in the upper-class families of Bengal in an era when girl brides were deprived of the love of their husbands. Despite being brides belonging to aristocratic families, they were also in a sense, marginalised. I have heard in the voice of Giribala and Nirjharini their revolt against the patriarchal socio-cultural pattern in Manbhanjan: The Appeasing and Darpaharan: The Final Surrender’ These stories ignite the flames of feminist movement in India and that has been brilliantly translated by the writer.
Lopamudra Banerjee’s translation of Tagore’s prudent creations in his magnum opus collection ‘Galpaguchchho’ is something that certainly transports your mind in the realm of pensive thoughts. Her lucid art of writing and poignant narration, her characters portrayed in the unforgettable settings and perspectives never allow the readers to break the reading of the book. For people who are not fluent in the Bengali language, this book of Banerjee is a must-read.
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