An excerpt from ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’

An excerpt from my book ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’ (Published by Authorspress, 2017).

The Broken Home and Other Stories_cover

“When her letter came, I could not resist showing it to three bosom friends of mine. Astonished at her Bengali writing skills, they had remarked: “You are indeed very fortunate to have her as your wife.” In other words, she deserved a better husband than me.”
In fact, even before receiving her reply, I had written a few letters to her, replete with spontaneous, abundant emotions, but flawed, with errors in spelling. While writing them, I did not feel the necessity to be cautious about their perfection. If I had been cautious, the spelling errors could have been minimized, but at the same time the emotions would also have to be buried.
Under such circumstances, it became easier for me to profess my love for her directly, rather than through the device of letters. So, while my father would leave for office, I would elope from my college to meet her. If those meetings harmed both of our studies, we made that up with the fervour of our sweet nothings. This made us realize the valuable lesson that nothing was a waste in our world; rather that which was considered a loss in a way was a gain in another way. This was a popular theory in science, and I experimented with it in the laboratory of our love and was confident about its validity.
Meanwhile, there was a wedding in my wife’s family, that of one of her cousin sister’s. On our part, we gave her the last treat of her life as a spinster, which was a family ritual. On that day, my wife had crafted an emotional, affectionate poem for the occasion in red ink on red paper and was restless to send the poem to her sister. As luck would have it, the poem accidentally reached my father’s hands, and he was mesmerized to see the incredible literary, poetic and artistic skills of his daughter-in-law. He exhibited it to his friends, and the old men praised her writing profusely while consuming tobacco. Very soon, everybody around became aware of the creative writing skills of the new bride. As for my wife, her cheeks and ears were reddened in shame as her name and fame spread around. But she got used to the recognition gradually. As I had said before, nothing is lost permanently. Perhaps the tinge of shame which was there in her cheeks for some time had found shelter in a hidden nook of my own heart.
However, when it came to fulfilling a husband’s duty, I was neither miserly nor lazy to criticize and rectify the errors of her writing. On one hand, my father had indiscriminately fueled her creativity. On the other hand, I had been extra cautious to pinpoint her errors and keep her grounded. I went out of my way to show her the writings of the great craftsmen in English literature and to overwhelm her with their literary finesse. Once, she had composed a piece on a cuckoo. I read out Shelly’s ‘Ode to a Skylark’ and Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ to her and silenced her. It was as if in my erudition and intelligence, I seemed to share these great poets’ glory. After this, whenever my wife would insist me to translate the gems of English literature for her in order to explain to her their greatness, I complied with her request with a sense of pride. Did I not try to suppress her own talents by highlighting to her the grandeur of English literature the way I did then? But I did that because I believed that women were in great need of a shaded canopy like the one I had provided. I do not think my father or my friends realized that, so I had to assume this hard responsibility myself. If the beautiful moon, at full bloom during the night ever tries to become the afternoon sun, one may praise it effusively for a few moments, but would try to think of ways to cover it immediately. This was how my wife had become to me and I was looking for ways to usurp her light.”

Do visit the Amazon pages of the book to know more about it, and to read it. Your readership and reviews are highly sought.

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B074FLYG3G/ (Amazon India link)

https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Home-Other-Stories/dp/B074FLYG3G/

The launch of the book in Delhi Litexperia, August 2017:

Book launch_The Broken Home and other stories in Delhi

Book reading from ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’:

Book reading_The Broken Home

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Jorasanko

Note: Dedicated to the illustrious Jorasanko Thakurbari, the home of Bengal’s bard Rabindranath Tagore. Published in the very prestigious print anthology ‘Cologne of Heritage’ (Viswabharati Research Center, June 2017), celebrating the unique cultural heritage of Kolkata, the proverbial city of joy in India

Jorasanko 1.

(1)
The red brick building, jagged edges of lives lived,
Lives lost, stubborn with hope and shimmering poetry.
Songs tear me, lyrics scrape me, one by one,
Petal by petal, the coatings of aristocratic gentry
Fragmented letters scald, deep, fragile, the cloudburst,
Rain songs, Bhanusingha, the gossamer wings
Of death, the poison, the inevitable salvation.
Locked doors open wide, us prying
In the wet womb of Thakur bari,
Seeking songs, prayers, cadence, the blue sighs of loss.

(2)
Curious feet hopscotch through the sepia tiles.
The once home, a museum of memories
Handpicked, baked fresh for visitors sticking fingers
In the refurbished contours of the walls,
Portraits and memorabilia.
Multicoloured vintage adorning the black
And white of handwritten lyrics
And the mystery, bewilderment of the lines traced,
The images, illustrated. Kadambari, Mrinalini
Sing still, gazing from the white, lingering void.

For Charulata and The Broken Home: A Roseate Sonnet

Note: A roseate sonnet, dedicated to the beautiful, lonely, vulnerable and literary soul of Charulata, the heroine of Rabindranath Tagore’s magnum opus novella ‘Nastanirh’ (which had been filmed by Satyajit Ray, the Oscar-winning filmmaker as ‘Charulata’), the lovelorn soul who seeks love, acceptance and validation from both her husband Bhupati, and realizes the irony of her twisted fate towards the end, when both she and her husband seek a closure.

Every time I have let loose, I went flopping, I drifted ashore,

My pain, lopsided anguish charring me with the embers of my torn poetry.

The silver swirl of my words, my unquenched thirst you had never known, my husband,

Voices floating inside my lovelorn being, in your brother’s bonhomie, had found delightful symmetry.

For you, beneath your spectacles and uninviting cool, had never known how

While I chewed on betel leaves, I scraped inside like crimson paint, pummeling my raw pages like dough.

Did even Amal know, when we wove our silken dreams of our clandestine garden, our little lake, idyllic ducks,

How I craved to be princess of yore for you both, slithering in your mediocre love, every then and now?

A damned, accursed princess, seated unaware, beneath the shady canopy of the hog plum tree,

Burning my untainted silence of moments, dreaming of rampant, inconsequential poesy that was never to be.

Running away, surreptitious, from my frayed edges, Amal, didn’t you trip over our shadowed world, for once?

Only if I had known before, our twilight hill would be crushed, trampled, our rhythmic melody broken down, thus.

Silent, ebbing and swelling inside, my domesticated footsteps censured me, “Charu, be the cloudburst, but never the rain.

Enter my wet, plundered earth, my husband, let us take each other in our lost catharsis, let me be your loving wife, the adulteress.

All Rights Reserved. Lopa Banerjee. March 27, 2017.

charulata1

Charulata_(The_Lonely_Wife)_pic_4.jpg

Charulata (Filmed by Satyajit Ray, India 1964)

P.S. The novella in Bengali has been translated by me as ‘The Broken Home’ (available in Amazon Kindle) and fetched me the International Reuel Prize for translation in 2016, instituted by The Significant League, a literary group in Facebook and The Autism Village Project Trust.

The Broken Home: Translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Novella ‘Nastanirh’ in Amazon

Hello dear friends, it is my pleasure to let you know that my first solo book of translation, ‘The Broken Home’, the English translation of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s magnum-opus novella ‘Nastanirh’ made its debut in Amazon today, published by FinalDraft Editing & Publishing Services. The novella had been made into an award-winning film ‘Charulata’ by none other than the Oscar-winner filmmaker of India, Satyajit Ray.

Glad to share with you the link to the book (Kindle edition) and the details regarding the book.

Cover Design: Aneesh Chatterjee. Acknowlegments: Kaberi Dutta Chatterjee, Mosarrap Hossain Khan and Bhaswati Ghosh (editing)

Wish me luck with this journey of mine, friends!The Broken Home_Cover

The Amazon links to buy the book:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FWMBGN0

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01FWMBGN0

The Goodreads.com page of the book:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30240285-the-broken-home?search_version=service

Nastanirh, the 1901 Bengali novella by Rabindranath Tagore, takes place in late 19th-century Bengal and explores the lives of the “Bhadralok”, Bengalis of wealth who were part of the Bengal Renaissance and highly influenced by the Brahmo Samaj. Despite his liberal ideas, Bhupati is blind to the loneliness and dissatisfaction of his wife, Charu. It is only with the appearance of his cousin, Amal, who incites passionate feelings in Charu, that Bhupati realizes what he has lost.
It is the basis for the noted 1964 film Charulata, by Satyajit Ray.
Lopamudra Banerjee, the noted writer, takes on the responsibility to translate the novella in English for the benefit of the Tagore-hungry world.

Hope you would enjoy reading the book!

To Have Loved and Lost: Words of the Bard

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A continuation of one of my previous posts, a song of Rabindranath Tagore in translation, in this post, I will yet again attempt to translate the lyrics of a song by the bard. As in my previous post, ‘Tobu Mone Rekho (And, still, remember me)’, I would like to add that the inspiration behind this translation came from reading the works of numerous scholars and exponents, who have taken painstaking efforts to dissect, analyze and reanalyze Tagore’s treasure trove of songs, poems and prose and spread it to the rest of the world. This particular song, written in 1883, is about losing a loved one, the austerity and the sudden cessation that are part of it. It is a widely known fact that Tagore’s sister-in-law, Kadambari Devi, whom he lost very untimely, had been a silent anchor behind his literary works, and her death, plagued him with the burden of grief and loss, yet also showered his path with light, meaning and bliss. The lyrics of this song are said to be the poet’s solemn, subtle and spontaneous reaction to losing a person so dear to his soul. The song, a melodious rendition, is based on the theme of death and mourning, and the poet’s world of consciousness centered on the domain of death. It can also be described as a wistful refrain on the death of a loved one and the poet pining, lamenting the loss with his ardent, loving soul.

 

আমার    প্রাণের ‘পরেচলেগেলকে

বসন্তের   বাতাসটুকুরমতো।

সেযে    ছুঁয়েগেল, নুয়ে গেল রে–

ফুল      ফুটিয়ে গেল শত শত।

সে       চলে গেল, বলে গেল না– সে   কোথায় গেল ফিরে এল না।

সে       যেতে যেতে চেয়ে গেল    কী যেন গেয়ে গেল–

তাই     আপন-মনে বসে আছি কুসুমবনেতে।

সে       ঢেউয়ের মতন ভেসে গেছে,   চাঁদের আলোর দেশে গেছে,

যেখান দিয়ে হেসে গেছে,  হাসি তার    রেখে গেছে রে–

মনে হল আঁখির কোণে    আমায় যেন ডেকে গেছে সে।

আমি     কোথায় যাব, কোথায় যাব, ভাবতেছি তাই একলা বসে।

সে       চাঁদের চোখে বুলিয়ে গেল ঘুমের ঘোর।

সে       প্রাণের কোথায় দুলিয়ে গেল ফুলের ডোর।

কুসুমবনের উপর দিয়ে কী কথা সে বলে গেল,

ফুলের গন্ধ পাগল হয়ে সঙ্গে তারি চলে গেল।

হৃদয় আমার আকুল হল,    নয়ন আমার মুদে এলে রে–

কোথা দিয়ে কোথায় গেল সে॥ ((The lyrics in original Bengali, courtesy: Geetabitan.com)

 

Who is it that touched my heart, trampled my soul

And went away, like the intoxicating breeze of spring?

Is it she who touched and bent me,

Blooming a hundred flowers while leaving?

 

She went away, wordless, to a distant land and never came back.

Looking at her path as she went, singing a nameless melody.

I am seated, forlorn, with myself, in the garden of love.

 

She has floated in waves, rippled in the sky,

Went away to an ethereal kingdom of the moonlight.

She has left her untainted smile on her way.

I felt as if she reckoned me, with the corner of her wistful eyes.

Sitting alone, I am lost in thoughts: where do I go from here?

 

She waved her wand and the eyes of the moon closed in slumber.

She dangled a bunch of flowers deep within me.

Her words were like whispered love in the ears of the wild flowers

The heady fragrance of the flowers followed her, became one with her.

With a heaving heart, with fervent eyes, I sit and think,

Which path did she take, which place did she go!

 

P.S. I would like to add here that with this translation, I hope to pay a small homage to the loving memory of my mother who has been a keen devotee of the songs, poems and literary works of Tagore. Since she has transferred this unquestioned devotion to me in my childhood, I had to come back to none other than the bard himself to reiterate my thoughts on what our relationship had been about, and how the memory of her love would keep me going for the rest of my life. This one is also for you, Ma!

Listen to Sagar Sen’s soulful rendition at Youtube.com: