A Curtain Raised
Aruna Chakravarti
Restless Waters Of The Ichhamati by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay Rupa, Delhi, 2018, 370 pp., 495
December 2018, volume 42, No 12

Bibhutibhushan is my favourite Bengali author and his epic narrative of life as it was lived by the banks of the Ichhamati river in the latter half of the nineteenth century, in what is now Bangladesh, one of my best loved novels. I can open it at any page and start reading only to put it down at the end. I have done so innumerable times. Yet I’ve never had the courage to translate it. In fact I have hesitated to translate any work of his barring the story ‘Mouriphul’ which I included in my collection of short fiction by contemporary Bengali authors.*

Bibhutibhushan’s sensibility is so deeply enmeshed in the sights, sounds and scents of rural Bengal, his narrative so skillfully woven out of the warp and the woof of a bygone era, his gaze so strangely subjective and objective at the same time and his language such an extraordinary blend of the earthy and lyrical—I felt I just couldn’t match it in English.

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