Finished reading ‘Pather Panchali’ yesterday. Although the preface to the English translation seems to appreciate it most for the way it has captured the mind of children – Opu and Durga – the protagonists of the novel, I would still appreciate it more for its brazen description of a poor high-caste family. There is no idealization, no judgement or contempt either. It presents the situation as it is and probably using children as protagonist helpes achieve this brazenness. In Hindi Premchand is the legend for describing the situation of poors. But he always talks from a third person perspective. His is always a critical eyes. He even idealizes. But not so with Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. His description is plain – as it is.
Another line of thought (though it wasn’t the theme of the novel in any sense) that came while reading this novel inspired the title of this post. Both the children at some point of time have been shown as apprehensive about leaving a place they have lived at for so long. Not a novel idea, and quite realistic and natural too. Be it Scarlett O Hara of “Gone with the Wind” or someone around us, somehow there is a place people seem to consider as belonging to them. And the kind of peace it inspires is unmatched at any other place.
But then I am sure there would be people who do not feel such attachment to one particular piece of land. The set can not be null since at least I belong to it 🙂 The reasons might be varied. Someone might be too independent by nature and personality to feel much about a place. And probably it is such nature that gives rise to ‘Ghumakkads’ like Rahul Sankrityayn and (to some extent Nagarjuna). There simply might be ‘children of parents in transferrable jobs’ or ‘hosteliers from childhood while parents kept moving’ like me 🙂 It’s difficult for me to identify with some one place, one house, or anything like that. It only boils down to people. Whereever they are, you belong there. And to some extent a differentiation exists in terms of the kind of place you live in. I will always identify with small towns (with all their faults and virtues), but not with villages, cities or metros. And probably that is the only kind of differentiation that exists for me.
Don’t know if it is good or bad. On the one hand too much of affection may limit your mobility. On the other hand if you do not identify with some place – you are missing a very strong ‘fixed’ support from your life….
The answer, as always it seems, is not in black and white. There is some shade of gray somewhere – the elusive right shade! 🙂