I have been thinking of writing this post for many days now.It needed an idle weekend and computer availability to make this post spring to life, which happened at last! Well, to start it, “Choker Bali” is a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, who needs no introduction to any Indian reader. However, I first knew about Choker Bali as a Rituparno Ghosh movie starring Aishwarya Rai, which was released in 2003. It was only in the movie credits that I came to know that it is a Tagore novel. Since then, I wanted to read the book. Perhaps, I was destined to lay my hands on it only now. Thanks to this wonderful college library, I am able to satiate atleast some of those unfulfilled desires 😉 “Chokher Bali” is literally translated as “a grain of sand which causes the eyes to water”. I read this English translation by Sukhendu Ray.
The story primarily revolves around five characters – Mahendra and his wife Asha, Binodini (played by Aishwarya Rai in the movie) and Bihari, Mahendra’s friend and Rajlakshmi, Mahendra’s mother. Mahendra and Bihari both reject to marry Binodini at one point of time. Later, it so happens that Binodini marries and soon is widowed. Then comes Ashalatha. Though initially Bihari was expected to marry her, he sacrifices for Mahendra. All is well…Mahendra is so besotted with Asha that he neglects his studies, though Ashalatha is not so intelligent that she meets Mahendra’s expectations from her intellectually. Now arrives Binodini, on Rajlakshmi’s request. Both of them hail from same place and share some relationship. Binodini and Asha become friends and name their friendship as “Chokher Bali”. They address each other as “Bali”. With the arrival of Binodini, the relationship equations undergo a massive change, owing to the influence of Binodini on Mahendra and Bihari equally. This is the story in brief.
The characterization of Binodini was amazing. I don’t say that she is a good character. But, what fascinated me is the ability with which the character was moulded. It has several complex shades to it. It appeared to me like its impossible to put so many sides of the character, so many deep feelings inside her on to paper. But, then, Tagore did that and did that so smoothly, I did not at any point feel that the language is difficult. The book left me thinking about Binodini and trying to understand her behavior, for the following 2,3 days after reading it. I thought about the respective characters, their behaviors and their reactions to various scenarios again and again in the days that followed. I think this is an important characteristic of a well-written novel.
Verdict : I will not hesitate to read this novel again, if I get a chance.
Well, destiny has it that I am reading all well-written novels these days. Hence, readers can be sure that I did not lose my nitpicking ability yet. Or perhaps, I am not as demanding a reader that I was a few weeks back 🙂 or perhaps, I fell in to the Bengali trap 🙂
Name: Chokher Bali
English Translation: Sukhendu Ray
Publishers: Rupa & Co
Price: around 200/-