Well, seriously speaking, I never thought I will read this book. Ofcourse, I didn’t even know the name of the book, though I know that it existed. Sounds strange?? this is the sequel to the book I read before. I knew that a sequel existed but, didn’t know the name. Ok… APARAJITO is the sequel to PATHER PANCHALI, both of which are popular Bengali novels by Bhibutibhushan Bandopadhyay, which earned fame to Indian film industry through the APU TRILOGY of Satyajit Ray. Having read Pather Panchali almost 4 years back, having fell in love with it at that time, the moment I saw this book in the library, I borrowed it. Since it has been quite some time that I read Pather Panchali and I was not in the habit of maintaining a proper record about what I read and what it contains at that time, I didn’t remember the events in that novel in sequence. For the benifit of people like me, there was a brief synopsis of “Pather Panchali” in the beginning of this book.
For those who have no idea of the story line, I’ll just give you a brief idea. These two books are a sort of Life story of Apurba kumar Roy, or fondly known as APU. “Pather Panchali” traces his story from his birth, his time spent with sister Durga and mom Sarbajaya, his sister’s death, the family leaving to Kashi and his father Harihar’s death. As far as I can remember, I think PatherPanchali ends in Apu and his mom struggling to earn a living. The second part begins with their life appearing to be settled with some relation of theirs asking them to take care of his land in a village. However, story revolves around Apu and his life at Moshapatra, his decision to go to school, then to college, his troubles and travails, mother’s death, marriage, frenships,his growth as a human being,wife’s death, his son Amitabh and finally, his growth as a writer. The story is full of life. I identified myself with Apu several times during the course of reading this book. One striking characteristic of the author I have observed in these two novels is his simplicity in style and the natural descriptions. I guess this is the inherent characteristic of all these Bengali writers – Thanks to British Library, I read quite some Bengali translations, thanks to IIIT, I am reading some more now.
Apurba’s travels through central India excited me the most in the novel. I envied Apu for all the oppurtunity he got to travel, despite the fact that he faced lots of hardships in his life. Apu’s mother’s feelings were so naturally potrayed. Actually, this novel is supposed to be an autobiographical novel of the author. Going by that, I imagined that there will be story from Apu’s side for most of the part. While I was true in my assumption, I went wrong in imagining that I can’t get the feel of other characters. The magic of Bibhutibhushan is that he makes us feel as if we are his characters. Lots of times, I identified myself with Sarbojaya (Apu’s mom)… be it waiting for Apu to come to his house or worrying about Apu or the anxiety when she came to know that Apu wants to leave her – anything, I felt as if I am Sarbojaya. Well, again, I identified myself with Apu at many places too. There were similar kind of experiences with Aparna (Apu’s wife) and Kajal(alias Amitabh – Apu’s son). Apu’s longing to go his native – “Nischindipura” s very well potrayed. The beauty of village life is contrasted with that of city life. I never myself lived in a village but, the feeling was very appealing for me.
Apart from all this main story, we can also observe the Bengali society of that times. The orthodoxy in few people, the ignorance of the masses, the abject poverty in which people live, human-relationships, changing priorities etc. All in all, the book is also a potrayal of the then Bengali life-style and society. The people Apu encounter in various places at various times in his life are actually the representatives of different kinds of people whom one sees in everyday life. Rich,poor,good, bad, kind cruel, friend and enemy – One can as well as if he is seeing his own life on the paper. The ability of Apu to enjoy small things that come across fascinated me a lot.
I liked Apu very much for his zeal to know. Apu came across to me as an interesting character. I was identifying myself with Apu and his Mom at the same time and Apu and his son later. This might sound a bit wierd, but this is a fact, which can only be felt….rather, I am not so versatile enough to pen it and make u all understand how it feels. Due to several reasons, this 500 page novel took me a longAer time to read. But, whenever I took it on hand, I never left it unless under compulsion. It is that gripping. It is not a suspense-thriller. Still, it is so well written that it became unputdownable for me. There is actually a lot to be written about this book, but, i decide to stop here coz, it appears to me an ocean. One of the best books I have read in Indian literature….. it appears as if I liked this even better than Pather Panchali !!! I was in the dreams of PatherPanchali even several days after reading it at that time. It looks as if that is going to happen with Aparajito too 🙂 This was translated by Gopa Majumdar. Thought I heard the name somewhere. On a bit of brain-exercise, i remembered. She translated “20 short stories” by Satyajit, about which I wrote loooong back some 3 years ago … but, posted in this blog in July. It can be viewed here.