Chakra is a common word in many Indian languages, derived from Sanskrit. It has myriad meanings, the ones among them relevant to this book are: ‘Circle'(of seasons, of life), ‘Wheel'(of time).
Blurb View (Translated):
The story of Chakra consists of love, introspection and breaking free from traditional ideas and practices. It also constitutes a gradual and trustworthy presentation of urban habits invading the simple rural lifestyle. Chakra has narrated the immeasurable properties of life with great care and tenderness.
Chakra is a Bangla novel by eminent author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay. I wonder why I hadn’t come across this one in so many years. I have read the best of Shirshendu in Durbeen, Parthibo and Manabjamin, but missed this one. All of them including Chakra have a very vast milieu as their setting. There are a plethora of characters introduced gradually to the readers, linking them to each other in a complex web of a plot. I’d say Chakra is comparatively less complex in characterization than the other novels but the incidents around each of them are woven very carefully here. As a Shirshendu staple, you will encounter innumerable sub plots arrayed in various strata, none too unworthy for the main plot.
The story revolves around two main protagonists, Amal and Parul. Inspite of being childhood lovers, their marriage does not happen due to a single incident which keeps affecting their lives even two decades later. Shirshendu touches a sensitive issue here, a blur between forced sex in lovers and rape. Parul rejects Amal for forcing sex on her at a tender age of seventeen, and when they meet again after many years, she meets a different Amal. A successful man, married with two kids, returns to their native village and faces the most intriguing question of his life. Does he still love her? Amal’s daughter Sohag shares an unusual relation with Parul, she worships her. Amal’s wife Mona is proud of Parul for rejecting a brilliant man, something that most women don’t have the courage to. He dallies on the verge of insanity, his daughter treads the same path, his father builds a tender relation with both of them.
The characterization mesmerizes me as usual. Apart from the main protagonists, the parallel ones like Sohag and Dhiren are cast quite elaborately. Local rural people like Panna and Biju merge seamlessly with their NRI counterpart Sohag. She is the connecting link between urban and rural roots of her family, an unusual girl who has an uncanny affinity for the village. This urban and rural conflict has made its appearance in quite a few Shirshendu novels, but the topic never gets boring due to a different treatment in each of the books. The writing is as lucid as it could be, the characters portray emotions beyond ranges, sometimes too subtle for our tastes, deep philosophies discussed in simple words – it is a treat in the form of fiction. However, the narrative does get a tad boring for people who prefer slimmer books. In fact, the story gets a little slow at the end, bound to make some people impatient. Being a biased Shirshendu fan, it wasn’t a deter for me to complete reading.
Lastly, the narrative begins and ends with the journey of a senile Cobra residing in one of the dilapidated village mansions. It brought a chill of anticipation down my spine, but it actually holds the story together.
Recommended for those who can read bangla. Others, will have to wait for a translation to be published some day.
My Rating: 4.5/5
About the Author:
Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (Bengali: শীর্ষেন্দু মুখোপাধ্যায়) was born on 2nd November,1935 in the Mymensingh district of erstwhile Bangladesh. He has written stories for both adults and children, and is one of the most popular author of contemporary literature in Indian Subcontinent. His father used to work in the Railways, and Shirshendu spent his childhood in many different places following his father. Memories of these places found their ways in many writings of Shirshendu. He passed Intermediate from the Victoria College and then took a Master’s Degree in Bengali from the Calcutta University. He started his career as a school teacher. Right now, Shirshendu is on the staff of the Ananda Bazar Patrika at Kolkata. He is also associated with the Bengali magazine Desh.
His writing career began with the publication of a short story in the famous Bengali magazine Desh, in 1959. In that same year, his first novel Ghunpoka (translated as Woodworm by Shampa Banerjee) was published in the annual Puja edition of Desh. First children’s novel – Manojder Adbhut Baari. He has received many awards for his work: the Vidyasagar Award (1985) for his contributions to the children’s literature; Ananda Puraskar (in 1973, and again in 1990), and the Sahitya Academy award for his novel Manabjamin in 1988.
Language: Bangla, Genre: Fiction/Drama
Author(s): Shirshendu Mukhherjee, Publisher: Ananda, Year Published: 2004
Binding: Hardcover, Edition: First, Pages: 417
ISBN-13: 9788177564976, ISBN-10: 8177564978
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Reviewed for: Self
This review is also shared with the Indian Quills Reading Challenge at The Tales Pensieve.