A journey to a different milieu…

When Shri Sunirmal Basu, who had been once my teacher, approached me to do a review of his book, which is a collection of memoir, short stories, poems and essays, I was not very excited about it thinking that a pot pouri of things might never be enticing a read. But I was wrong. Terribly wrong. Unquestionably wrong. For this slim book having a great poetic cover design, is a poem by itself.

The book divided into four sections namely short stories, poems, essays and memoir, is greatly entertaining and at the same time soul stirring.

If the stories reveal the writer’s sense of practical life, the real one filled with its own sobs, smiles and sniffles, the poems set him free for primarily Shri Basu is a poet. A poet with impeccable sense of pathos, romanticism and practicality. Naturally the poetry section is the longest one of all four sections.

I have definitely found his ingenuity when he fuses his personal experience with utter objectivity. If poems like ভাতের গন্ধ ( the smell of rice) brings into fore the struggle of existence , making it existentialist in temperament, (page 84), the very next poem স্বপ্ন কুমারী, মেঘমালা ( the dream girl, string of cloud) is pure romance, in pure filmy terms!

And from that height of graphical romance I fall on the ground of reality and like Shelley perhaps I bleed too when I stumble upon বিবর্ণ ক্যাকটাস(discolored cactus).

However the section which finds Shri Basu at his narrative best is quite presumably the short story section which introduces us to his literary class. Ten stories of ten different flavours are put together in the book. And here I find a pattern too. It begins with love and passion and then it drifts into villainy and all that non pious ( stories like : দাহ, কেননা মানুষ, page 23,27) before ending with love again as the section ends with ভালো বাসার গন্ধ (the fragrance of love, page 40).

The essay section is comparatively simple and quite contrary to what we actually expect from an essayist. It does not contain heavy anecdotes and footnotes or bibliography. Still when we read রবীন্দ্রনাথ কেমন করে লিখতেন ( how did Rabindranath write) we find as if Shri Basu is following the romantic essay tradition of Charles Lamb, fusing story telling with subjective details. As if Shri Basu is conversing with Tagore himself and bringing into fore all the hidden treasures of the greatest bard of all times from Bengal. Same conversational tone and unorthodox style of analysis can be found in his other esssays on Manik Bandopadhyay and Najrul Islam, two other writer and poet from Bengal.

However the gem lies in the last but one essay in the section ‘ লেখকেরা কিভাবে লেখেন ‘ ( how do writers write). This essay though short, showcases the basic tenets of a writer, drawing comparisons from writing styles and habits of some well known bengali writers like Atin Bandopadhyay, Baren Ganguly, Prafulla Ray, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Amitava Dasgupta, etc.

But if I am to choose my personal choice of all sections, I will choose the memoir section, because knowing Shri Basu from my teenage till first half of my adulthood years, as a student and then later as a resident of almost the same locality in which he lives, I can instantaneously relate to his memoir. I can surely make out what beautiful grand scene of natural beauty he has tried to portray in his memoir on Batanagar.

And when he ends the section by quoting from Robert Frost ( ‘ And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep), I can definitely relate to his journey back home and even beyond that.

Name of book : কৃষ্ণ চূড়ার দিনগুলো, রাতগুলো,

Publisher : Taurean Publications

ISBN 978-93-91074-65-4