Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Rajani - Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

I would not have read so many of Bankim Chandra’s works had they not been a part of this omnibus volume by Penguin which I bought a year ago. With this one, I have finished Volume I and I now await Volume II hoping that it will have the renowned 'Anandmatt' in it.

“Rajani, the story of a blind girl and two men, Sachindra and Amaranth, is a psychologically taut tale; it is the first Indian novel where characters narrate stories in the first person” (from the blurb)

Rajani, Amaranth, Sachindra, Labangalata are the main characters.

The blind but beautiful Rajani, from a poor lowly family falls in love with Sachindra Babu, the younger stepson of Labangalata whose house she visits to sell flowers that she threads into garlands herself.

Labangalata, not knowing Rajani’s mind but understanding her desire for love and marriage condescendingly arranges a match between Rajani and an already married Gopal, having lured Gopal with a handsome dowry.

Champa, Gopal’s first wife, who resents this marriage, arranges for Rajani to be taken away to her parent’s house by her brother Hiralal, who is a wicked man.

Rajani, who is still secretly in love with Sachindra agrees to get away from the place with Hiralal.

Hiralal takes Rajani in a boat towards Hoogly. He makes advances at Rajani and when she rejects him outright, he deserts her on the banks of the river and sails away.

Rajani is found by Amarnath.
Amarnath proves to be instrumental in bringing to light, the secret of Rajani’s birth. With the secret revealed, the positions of all the characters in the story change dramatically.

For reasons that I will not reveal here, the family members of Sachindra implore him to marry Rajani. Sacindra is charmed by her beauty but is reluctant to marry her as she is blind.

And then, by a strange dispensation of Providence, Sachindra falls in love with Rajani and all ends well…

The story should have been more elaborate. It is rushed. There are many characters and there is enough story. The author should have at leisure dwelled upon the story of every character in detail instead of giving a brief account of events.

However, a few pages, here and there, dwell upon the emotions that the characters go through …especially the silent suffering of Rajani after she falls in love and quickly realizes the futility of her dreaming and aspiring.

A few lines from the book…

Poetry for the mute and love of music for the deaf are merely instruments of their own torture; their own song is denied to them. These are Rajani’s thoughts when she finds herself lost in Sachindra’s love…

We may have read a book or two or three and we feel we have in our grip the deepest of deep knowledge of this world – that whatever doesn’t come within the sphere of our beliefs cannot possibly be true…

1 comment:

Rishi said...

I should have made this comment long back. But with this story now I have to. I am a Bangali as you might remember. But I grew up in Bihar and don't have a formal education in Bangla. However I do read write Bangla thanks to my Thamma (Grandma). She has read me out all these Stories/Novels when I was a small boy. I used to lie down next to her and follow the text and that is how I learnt Bangla. My fondest memories are those 2 months when she read out Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay's Pather Panchali made more popular by Satyajit Ray.
In this story the name of the character which reminded me those moments childhood is "Labangalatha". Labanga is clove and it is a very uncommon name never heard anyone to have this name except this character.