Tales of the underprivileged and unheard


Book – Stories from Saratchandra Innocence and reality

Page – 184

Publisher – Rupa publication

Price – 295

Saratchandra Chattopadhyay was a doyen of Bengali literature, an eminent novelist whose novels and other works remain eminent and popular even today. His pet themes were women and love. Some of his great works like Devdas, Dena Paona, Srikanta etc earned him instant fame in the world of literature. His literary works were not just the masterful tapestry of Bengali culture but an exploration of noble and complex human emotions. He was highly vocal against the social discrimination against the women. The popularity of his work among his readers may be attributed to his outstanding narrative and his lucid language. Though his works are not easy to translate yet the translator Anindita Mukhopadhyay delivered it with great ease to render the author’s unique conversational, lyrical and satirical style throughout the pages of this book.

The book is a collection of twelve widely acclaimed short stories of Saratchandra which bring to life themes covering perceptions of childhood, a refusal to be rule-bound, the transition from the innocence of a child’s worldview into hard reality, and the world as it appears to a child. Divided into two sections, the first group of stories portray childhood in all its unburdened innocence while the latter section leads on to deeper sensibilities the everyday experiences of casteism, the reality of social hierarchy, and the bonds of almost filial affection forged between man and animal that sustain both.

The main theme of his stories relates to rural life and society as a medium for social analysis. The translation reveals Saratchandra’s keen eye as a social commentator, presenting vivid pictures of life in rural Bengal; during the early twentieth century. From stories such as ‘Laalu’ to ‘Mohesh’ to reminiscences of Saratchandra’s own boyhood. The set of stories in two sections focuses on the underprivileged communities and social groups.

All in all, these iconic stories from Saratchandra offers a glimpse into the oeuvre of the writer’s work which reflects the understanding of human psychology with occasional barbs at religious bigots. Saratchandra is also a voice from the colonial past, which reminds us of a horizon of expectation of the self-conscious, politically active, underprivileged communities and class.