This very renowned Bengali poet, writer, painter, musician and freedom fighter is known for his heart warming writing among his aforementioned array of talents.
Written between 1891 and 1917, the common thread binding all these stories is PEOPLE. It focuses on relationships and myriad emotions that come to life due to these relationships. It also takes one through the struggles one goes through most often afflicted by the society.
My kindle copy was a public domain book that comes with their standard beige and maroon cover page. These stories come in different assortments and are published in many different languages and with many different covers. Most of them have Tagore himself on the cover or an abstract painting of his, artwork by him or abstract portrayal of human beings- who are often the theme of his books.
A book like this is often recognized for its writing, and picked by audience who is already aware of the writer’s writing capabilities hence the covers range from being extremely beautiful to very average.
It is a collection of short stories, hence there are many characters that we come across. The stories are set in and around Bengal and depict the lives and struggles of people belonging to different backgrounds in the period they were written in.
While some stories are a documentation of a few years of the protagonist’s life, some others focus on a life altering event. The theme of the book, consciously or subconsciously is people, relationships and emotions – something that Tagore has written extensively on. It is a touching description of grievances that are very very real and often overseen – like the plight of a mute girl, the struggle of a notorious boy who is packed off to his uncle’s house. We see such situations all the time, without really analyzing the plight of the victims.
These stories have been translated from Bengali hence simple, clean and modern English is used. Mostly written in third perspective, the translation is rather well done with no flaws. Another highlight of the language is the fact that often, a translated piece tends to lose its essence while subjected to translation, however, these stories still maintain the essence and hit all the right chords and are not fragmented or misinterpreted at any point. ( It makes me wonder when the translation is so beautiful, how wonderfully written would the original stories be?)
Often an entire book is dedicated to detailing out such stories in order to convey to the reader the depth of it, but the genius that Tagore is, he manages to bring out the same intensity of emotions with these stories that are laced with myriad emotions, but in a condensed manner. Though the stories are short, the essence is not lost. They do not look rushed or don’t seem like the author is hastening to reach the climax.The narrative takes the reader through all the emotions that one must experience to reach the climax of the story.
Another highlight of all the stories is the unpretentious writing. At no point did I feel that this is a fictional story and not a real documentation from the protagonist himself. The deep understanding of the little details mentioned in the stories makes them more appealing. The stories are written simply, without much grandeur or forced elaborations. The stories are not overwhelming but a touching narration of the realities of lives which may or may not be similar to ours, while some may reckon with them, some others may see things in a new light due to the realistic portrayal and plot lines adopted.
Though I did not think I have any negative comments to make, maybe I do have something after all. It cannot really be categorized as a negative point, for its more like his writing style, but the very realistic stories often end in a very dramatic and unexpected way, and like mentioned earlier its not necessarily a bad thing, it is just a little too overwhelming for me.
All stories have a very peaceful end ( mind you, I use peaceful and not HAPPY.)and that gives me some reason for envy for its just a little too unreal to encounter in real life.
Like most of Tagore’s work this one too is beautiful and leaves you with a warm heart and empathy for each character that you read about. It leaves you a little grateful, a little saddened and very contemplative about how truly atrocious we as a society are, most of the times.
Every character makes a mark on the reader, all for different reasons, but all entwined with one common factor- EMOTIONS.
Who do I recommend this to?
From people who aren’t too into books to avid bibliophiles. Starting from teenagers upwards these stories make for an insightful read. Most of all I would recommend it to adults who consciously or subconsciously inflict themselves and others around them with a lot of heartache due to their insistence of living by society and its ridiculous standards.
All the world seemed to think that because she did not speak, therefore she did not feel; it discussed her future and its own anxiety freely in her presence. She had understood from her earliest childhood that God sent her like a curse to her father’s house, so she withdrew herself from ordinary people and tried to live apart. If only they would all forget her she felt she could endure it. But who can forget pain? Night and day her parents’ minds were aching on her account. Especially her mother looked upon her as a deformity in herself…
When we express our thoughts in words, the medium is not found easily. There must be a process of translation, which is often inexact, and then we fall into error. But black eyes need no translating;the mind itself throws a shadow…
Alas for our foolish human nature! Its fond mistakes are persistent. The dictates of reason take a long time to assert their own sway. The surest proofs meanwhile are disbelieved. False hope is clung to with all one’s might and main, till the day comes when it has sucked the heart dry & it forcibly breaks through its bond and departs. After that comes the misery of awakening & then once again the longing to get back into the maze of the same mistakes.
Women lose their delicacy of refinement when they are compelled day and night to haggle with their destiny over things which are pitifully small, and for this they are blamed by those for whom they toil.
Her son was merged in her husband again, and she took up this burden of the dead and the living on her on her own aching heart. She said to God – “ It’s too much for me to bear.” But she did bear it.
In this world’s endless time and boundless space. One maybe born at last to match my sovereign grace.