Go Back
Koto Ajanare
Author: Sankar

Publisher: Ananda Publishers
Pages: 356
Add to Booklist
Bookmark and Share
The sheer range of personalities that cross the path of the narrator is astounding, and the reader often wonders what happened to them thereafter; but by then we are already in the midst of another legend. The aging Lebanese groom-hunter who ends up as Rani Meera Adityanarayanan had hardly claimed my empathies when Biren Bose came in with a tale that required greater compassion. Helen Groubert, Sunanda Sen, Chokka-Da, Shefali Mitra, Miss Triton; the list of people we meet is long and each character is built in deft yet detailed strokes. It has to be added that none of these characters come back to take their tale forward. Perhaps this has something to do with the times the story reflects.

Reading these stories in a continuum sketches the big picture that’s life around a court in the Calcutta of the 1950s. What’s great is that the sketches are still contemporary. The book pronounces that life’s pain, sorrow and suffering have always followed similar patterns and that the decade the booklover accesses it from does not really matter. Fate, hope and hopelessness are the threads that weave the tapestry of life in any era. Reading a winding chain of stories might perhaps intimidate a lesser reader but it could be that the format suited serial publication, which was how Kato Ajanare initially was revealed to the audience. I found that several small sittings gave me the best reading experience with this book rather than a single stretch of reading.

In Kato Ajanare, we also see the picture of an Indian city when the British have left and the country is finding her feet. Yet, the British personnel who are still around aren’t treated like enemies. They continue to play their parts in the normalcy that is the 1950s Calcutta and the reader is given to understand there is an easy and unprejudiced acceptance of their roles. The novel is a rare merge of poetry in prose; and bonus marks to the translation which allows the non-Bengali reader to access the world of Bengal’s own Sankar.