Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translation from Bengali by: Sreejata Guha
Price: 250 INR
The literal meaning of ‘Chokher Bali’ is the sand particle that lodges itself in the eye and acts as an irritant. Here the novel’s protagonist Binodini, a beautiful young widow, is playing the role of the ‘grain of sand’ and lodges herself in the house of Mahendra and Asha, newly married couple and living in total conjugal bliss.Binodini playfully proposes to Asha that they be ‘chokher bali’ to each other,she infuses the added dimension of reciprocity into the function which of course means both the woman will rub each other in the wrong way.
The couple’s harmonious relationship takes an unexpected turn when Mahendra falls for Binodini. Mahendra’s closest friend and classmate at medical college, Behari, is also smitten with Binodini. Poor and illliterate Asha helplessly witnesses the changes taking place within the otherwise simple and smooth relationships. Her mother in-law,Rajlaksmi, initially accuses her of not being able to manage the household and her son but soon becomes her closest ally. Binodini, who claims to be Asha’s wellwisher and her friend and guide in relationships, slowly succumbs to Mahendra’s love. Binodini,the protagonist is a self willed, intelligent, beautiful and somewhat confused woman who wants everything at one go without losing anything. Despite of the illicit relationship with Mahendra, she realizes that her true love-her secret passion is for Behari, which she is never able to express.
The plot revolves round the complexities of the relationships, love, insecurity and jealousy. It takes the reader through a whirlpool of emotions. On one hand the novel is a sensational account of illicit relationships and on the other an emotional interplay between 5 strong characters of the story-Mahendra, Behari,Asha,Rajlaksmi and Binodini.
I picked this book because of the name attached to it-Rabindranath Tagore. This novel appears to be the one which you would want to sit in your arm chair and read along with sipping your cuppa coffee…but soon you realize that you were wrong! The book moves a bit slowly and also the reader would want to leave it unread in the middle of it.