Book Review – Teen Paharer Katha [ 3 stories in Bengali – “Stories of three mountains” by Chitran Choudhury
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In 1991 (Collapse of the Soviet Union), I was a hormone driven 17 year old heterogeneous male. In 2008 (Credit Crisis), I was thinking of putting my leisure into some channel. In the seventeen years from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the near collapse of World financial system, one thing in India became scarce – leisure. Middle aged corporate men talked more of the conflict between life and livelihood instead of “adda, amateur drama, novels, films and such frills of life.”
The author informs us of his profession and we first wonder how he could manage to get time to complete the project. Many prisoners of the cubicle nation might get inspiration from this. This is a virtue of the book immediately discerned from the flyleaf itself.
Reviewing a work of fiction can only be termed as “recording of reader’s reaction”. In that reaction also, the most-important aspect is how the work has “re-created” things inside and things of outside. The review below follows this philosophy.
The language is excellent – simple, clear and highly readable. The last story – নীলান্তিকা, I liked most. The story has been told with a great restraint from the author’s side and the natural landscape s no longer a part of the narration but a character itself, i.e. having autonomy in the narration.
1. The 2nd story appears, from the middle segment to the end of lengthening the “thinking of a story part” ; more dialogues between characters instead of narration by the author would have brought more three-dimensional aspect to the characters.
2. The first story followed the framework of many stories with “urban, tallish complex and longish car, weekend scotch, aspiring but a bit bored” class of contemporary Calcutta but when the reader expected something obvious, the story takes a very dark and sinister turn of events – completely unexpected. The epilogue is darker still when the female protagonist is forced to take a turn which is pure evolutionary instinct as evolutionary biology tells us.
3. The female character of the first story – a kind of heartlessly rational and survival-focused organism is in direct contrast to the pivotal character নীলান্তিকা who chooses, not by rationality but by pure instinct something completely against better survival. She validates and redeems the wisdom of Pascal – “Heart has a reason which reason will never comprehend.”
4. The stories tell me something between the lines – an oblique hint on the excess of 70s in Bengal – the landscape is also part of the Mother Nature – something which not only soothes but appears in double role in the cosmic drama – as a female form, it charms and soothes us but at the same time, it is also focused on betraying us. All the characters in the novel get solace and peace as well as endanger themselves in those landscapes – literally and psychologically.