A Picaresque Tale Of Times Past
Simran Chadha
THINGS TO LEAVE BEHIND by Namita Gokhale Penguin, New Delhi, 2017, 2017, 230 pp., 287
September 2017, volume 41, No 9

With a narrative steeped in the annals of Kumaon history, Namita Gokhale’s Things to Leave Behind, may well be a historical novel; but then again, so deeply interlaced are the political fortunes of this land at the threshold of modernity with the history of the Pant family that pigeonholing appears, at best, an exercise in reductionism. The  seductively meandering pace of this text, set amidst the bucolic Himalayan bylanes spans the turbulent years from 1840 up to approximately 1912—a time when the Indian subcontinent was peering, for the very first time, through veils set in place by tradition and custom,  at modernity and the modernism that accompanies it.

Imperialism has often been understood in terms of the economic and political changes enacted onto a colonial landscape by the colonizing races. Another popular register for discussing this period of tumult and change is the moral, nay ethical impact of western ways on ancient Indic civilization.

Continue reading this review