Binodini – Rabindranath Tagore
The Bengali Original – Chokerbali was written by Tagore. Its Translation is titled Binodini in English. Apparently, Binodini was what Tagore intially thought of naming his Bengali book – not sure how it ended up being called Chokerbali. I watched the movie Chokerbali – starring Aishwarya Rai. The movie is very different from the book.
I like books with real characters, like this one. They are not painfully preachy and impractically righteous; they have shades of grey. Characters’ actions are so much closer to what we see around us in real life; they make mistakes, they plot, connive, change mind without reason, avenge, justify their mistakes to themselves, constantly try to out-do others and such. There are interesting conversations scattered thru out the book.
Bihari is Mahendra’s loyal childhood friend. One day, Mahendra’s mother proposes that he marries a girl called, Ashalata. Mahendra refuses to marry her even without meeting her. Then, Mahendra’s mother coaxes Bihari to marry her. Bihari agrees to meet her to take the match forward. Then, the friends to go meet her. Mahendra finds Ashalata beautiful, innocent and child-like and takes an instant liking to her. He decides to Marry her.
Binodini, the protagonist, after whom the book is named, is a young widow. Several years ago, both Mahendra and Bihari refuse Binodini’s hand in wedding even without seeing her. Now, when Mahendra and Ashalata are living a happy life, Binodini enters the house as the guest of a relative who lives with the couple. With the introduction of beautiful, vivacious, Binodini, there is an upheaval in the Mahendra household. Binodini befriends Ashalata and thru her, plays with Mahendra’s mind. Mahendra gets attracted to Binodini. But slowly, Binodini takes a liking to Bihari.
It ends up like Binodini loves Bihari, Bihari loves Asha – but does not acknowledge it – even to himself, Asha loves and is devoted to Mahendra and Mahendra loves Binodini.
How the story unfolds is beautiful. Definitely worth a read. Tagore’s Words impart so much life to each character. It is like, they come out of the book and start living around you. He expresses very complex human emotions effortlessly.