Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It Rained All Night - Buddhadeva Bose

Originally published in 1967 in Bengali as 'Raat Bhorey Brishti', the book was banned for obscenity, but went on to become a bestseller. It was later translated by Clinton B Seely and was published in 1973 and then in 2010. 'It Rained All Nigh' is a tale of infidelity, what leads to it and its aftermath, and is told from the viewpoint of both the wife and husband.

Maloti is married to the pedantic and high-brow academic Nayonangshu (first time I heard that name). The man has some freewheeling thoughts on love and marriage and enjoys the company of his books, cigarettes and friends. He has little time nor the drive or courage to care for his wife and her romantic needs. Sometime then enters his friend, the coarse and rugged man of action, Jayanto, who has seen the life of the rebel and is now a struggling magazine owner. Jayanto, for all his coarse and crude nature, cares tenderly for Maloti and her small desires, be it getting her saris back from a mischievous dhobi or getting the daughter a doctor. The husband grows more distant by the day until it leads to the inevitable.

But what happens after, is told brilliantly. How the two know that the other knows what happened and how they react and adjust to their new roles, first in anger and resentment and then in a conciliation. The husband reading the news and discussing it as if nothing had happened, the wife planning her day, and slowly it all sinks in that life must go on. There is a searing debate whether it was honest to live the way they were, hating each other, whether it was right or wrong, and then whether it makes sense or not to get on with their lives.

Sensitively told and yet not holding back when it requires to be dealt with boldly (the first few lines land you tight in the middle of the story), Buddhadeva Bose shows a great understanding of human nature, of man and woman and their bittersweet relationships. The Calcutta he writes about is so vivid and alive, so real and is shown so beautifully that you are transported into the drawing room and bedroom of the Mukherjees and their lives. It asks many questions of marriage, of love, of intimacy and courage. Fine read. Thanks Vinod bhai for lending it to me.

No comments: