Where to start reading Samaresh Majumdar
Samaresh Majumdar. A renowned fiction writer in both Bengals. Few other writers have attained such heights of popularity and fame for their novels. Through his books, which have long been favourites among his readership, he was able to easily convey the simplicities of life, as well as the language and sensibilities of lower-middle class masses and ordinary people. His novels, notable among which are Uttaradhikar, Kalbela, Kalpurush, Satkahon, and Garbhadharini, have reached readers far and wide.
Let's talk about Satkahon first. More popular among educated women in Bangladesh and West Bengal, it was as if Satkahon had bewitched its readers. Dipabali's character in Satkahon said aloud what was on every girl's mind. It was every college and university-going girl's dream to be Dipabali. Her character had stumbled early in life, and she managed to not only overcome its shock, but returned to her studies too. Despite her struggles, she strove to gain and maintain her own footing in the world. It is no wonder that she was a character that so many young girls looked up to. When they grew up, they wanted her courage and stability; they wanted to do something for their country and communities. The lives of millions of girls across the nation had been enriched through a novel like Satkahon. The book's appeal has yet to run out.
Uttaradhikar, Kalbela, and Kalpurush comprise Samaresh Majumdar's trilogy. It is difficult to come by a reader who has not fallen in love with tea gardens after reading Uttaradhikar. The tender call of the Angravasa River and the tea plantations of Dooars are impossible to miss after one has read the book. Uttaradhikar discusses the Naxalite movement. It also tells the tale of a boy named Animesh, who becomes a singer in Kalbela. In Kalpurush, he endures blow after blow as his life moves forward.
Honesty is Animesh's most prominent characteristic, enchanting to his readers; it is rare to come by another character who is quite so sincere. He is fiercely patriotic, too. When he grows up, he leaves behind the tea gardens to study in Kolkata, where he falls into the grip of student politics. As he ventures into student life at Kolkata University and becomes acquainted with its politics, a new world opens up before him.
His life becomes entangled with Madhabilata's, until there is nothing more to his life than her presence. Young men and women who read the book, even today, want to take after its leading couple—they want to be Animesh and Madhabilata. After all, who else can love like they do? Samaresh Majumdar fills the pages of his book with descriptions of their love, life, struggle, and disillusionment.
The trilogy explores society, politics, economy, patriotism, and the connections people come to form with one another. That is where Samaresh Majumdar is most successful. His writing transcends class boundaries. He was able to see the readers' reception to his work while he was still alive, a fate not all writers are fortunate enough to enjoy.
In Kalpurush, Arko is born to Animesh and Madhabilata, and their dreams all revolve around him. The life they lead is truly miserable, and yet they continue to dream. Some say that Animesh and Madhabilata have failed at life, but do they truly face defeat? Or do they find another life because they avoid giving in to greed? Even if it is defeat, and even if they do not live luxurious lives, Animesh and Madhabilata's lives, inextricably intertwined with another, are filled with love. Is there any greater achievement?
Garbhadharini is another of Samaresh Majumdar's acclaimed works, with countless readers aspiring to be Joyita, who was incredibly brave and modern for her time. The novel made many women want to leave their homes, and no doubt inspired some to follow through. This is to be expected, after all, and perhaps this is where the writer's labour bears fruit.
Koshto Koshto Shukh is another novel where he manages to explore life with a spectacular depth to his writing. Cinemawala, too, is an incredible novel about dreams coming true, in which a girl takes her cart from house to house to sell trinkets. She catches the eye of a director's wife; the director had been searching for an actress for his new cinema. And so, a new struggle begins centering the young girl. One day, she becomes a Tollywood star.
Such is the writer's hand, able to make his readers wait with unending anticipation. New readers will certainly seek out his work and find it, and will so be bound to shower it once more with love.
Translated from the Bangla by Amreeta Lethe.
Shah Alam Shazu is a writer and journalist.