This is the third book that I have read by Gurudev after Gora and Aankh ki Kirkiri. I am amazed at his understanding and hence portrayal of the society as it existed in early 20th century, the relationships within families and extended families and the intense intricate relationships that almost define the identity of women in the society.

In this book, story is simple. There are two big Khandaans or families, who had been at loggerheads. One man in one family does exceptionally well in business and becomes too rich and hence too revered in the family. He marries a young girl from the other family, a typical arranged marriage. What goes between him and the girl before, during and after the marriage is the story. But what keeps you bound to it is the how the emotions of the girl and the man are described that you can understand both and how both of them are a product of their own experiences and circumstances. Their value systems and their behavior comes from who they are and when they suddenly find themselves in each other’s company, they really do not know how to react. They know once they are married, they are bound to each other, but how to accept and adapt to each other is their struggle. Both of them try to change for the other to the extent their personalities allow them to, but after a point they are not able to cope up with it. There are restrictions and expectations that come from the families and the society, but eventually people who are driven from inside can let go these restrictions.

Kumudini, the protagonist of the story is an independent woman, who loves to learn, who lives in her own world, takes her own decisions and shoulders responsibility of the consequences of the decisions. She is driven by her inner strength and while she does everything expected of her as a new daughter-in-law of the family, she refuses to be burdened by the affluence infused ego of her elderly husband. Unable to accept her husband’s arrogance, she finds solace in her spiritual journey, in the affectionate behavior of others in the family who also live under the autocratic rule of her husband.

The role of a brother in nurturing a younger sister to be on her own, no matter what the situation is, not to be impacted by the wealth and grandeur if you are not respected for who you are is soulful.  So, Kumudini chooses to be with her brother even when financial scales are firmly in hands of her husband. In the end, when she finds herself in a situation that makes her go back to her marital home, she knows that it is only to deal with the situation and not to accept the situation.

All in all it is the story of a fiercely independent woman, who though dependent on others financially and socially, chooses her own destiny. Then there are others characters taking you through the pushes and pulls of the large families where one’s position is defined by how and whom you control.

This translation published by Sahitya Academy had lot of editing errors and at some places I felt the text was skipped, nonetheless it was still worth reading it.

Read it to know the Bengal and its society of early 20th century.

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