And your mind, your mind Is so full of red. You better find somebody to love. Were the guidelines of propriety invented by man or laid down by higher powers to segregate and set men against each other if conformity was challenged? Rajalakshmi, the mother, is kept company in her old age by her sister-in-law who is also a widow, and Behari, a very close friend of Mahendra is also a part of the family circle. The story begins with an episode where both Mahendra and Behari turn down a marriage proposal from a certain Binodini without as much as a glance at her photograph, unknowing then, of how her life would get entangled with their own in the near future.
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And your mind, your mind Is so full of red. You better find somebody to love. Were the guidelines of propriety invented by man or laid down by higher powers to segregate and set men against each other if conformity was challenged? Rajalakshmi, the mother, is kept company in her old age by her sister-in-law who is also a widow, and Behari, a very close friend of Mahendra is also a part of the family circle.
The story begins with an episode where both Mahendra and Behari turn down a marriage proposal from a certain Binodini without as much as a glance at her photograph, unknowing then, of how her life would get entangled with their own in the near future.
Rajalakshmi frets, but is soon mollified when her subsequent efforts bear fruition and a marriage is arranged between the teenaged Asha and Mahendra. In the early days of connubial bliss, the young couple stay cooped up in bed and this consummation of early love causes Mahendra to miss classes at the University where he is training to become a doctor. As in D. After her sojourn, she returns with Binodini, who has since been married and widowed, in tow. They strike up a friendship which is based on mutual understanding and a sense of shared fate which has placed them in the same boat as widowed women braving the storm of social stigma, albeit their differences in age.
Being born a woman in a hypocritical society that held on to such regressive thought was indeed tough luck. Women were expected to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands, which would be lighted with sandalwood so that after the flames would consume their flesh, their souls would arise in a fragrant plume of dust and be blown by the wind towards the heavens in obeisance to will of the gods.
Whereas if a man were to lose his wife, the selfsame deities would be glad to open the gates of heaven to the solitary female traveler whose other half would be left back in the realm of the living. What sort of divine logic was that? Even after its abolition, widows were still considered pariah, and would live in isolation and penury till the end of their days since their worldly worth had been eroded irreversibly by fate.
Binodini was a beautiful and educated woman and her rapport with Rajalakshmi gradually endeared her to the rest of the household with her witticisms and austerity.
Being not far apart in age, she develops a close bond with Asha, who gives her the nickname, Chokher Bali. By this time, Mahendra, who is by nature a pretentious youth who writes poetry in English, the language of the colonial masters and dresses in the latest Western fashions, wearies of his wife, because in spite of her beauty, she fails to arouse in him an enduring passion on account of her being an uneducated simpleton with whom he cannot share his feelings.
There was also a superstition in those times that an educated woman was bound to become a widow, and so Asha was contended to play her part in the charade of life. In one incident, a letter containing a love poem in English dedicated to Asha falls into the hands of the mother, who makes Binodini read it out to her. She, in turn is perplexed by the language used and takes it to the Catholic nun who had schooled her in her youth. But things get complicated when, on a picnic, Mahendra shifts his attentions to Bali, who is taken up with Behari and his talk of the nationalist movement of which he was a part.
In the love triangle that ensues, Behari who claims to have taken an oath of bachelorhood in return for Independence of the country, in spite of temptation, gracefully wards off the playful advances of Bali.
But they strike up a camaraderie which is resented by Mahendra, which brings about a new found frigidity in their friendship. Mahendra, whose moods had grown darker on having to resist the temptation of having the object of his desire dangling before his eyes, succumbs to temptation and Bali, being dependent on the good graces and hospitality of her host, capitulates to his embraces. Is adultery a sin? She convinces herself that if one confesses wrongdoing to god, the sin ceases to stain the conscience, as her Catholic tutor had once taught her.
But was she a widow by choice? In addition to the three mastheads that had formed her identity as a widow, a young woman, and one in financially dire straits, her experiences with Mahendra disturbed the tripartite disharmony of her life, and she discovered deep within her, pleasures of the flesh.
In spite of the affair, Behari was also in her thoughts and she held him in high regard for his uprightness and patriotic zeal. The sanctity of the marriage bond has been questioned often enough but in those days, the very thought of such indiscretion would warrant ostracization. Ultimately, they are discovered and Bali is exiled to her village amid much scandal and bad blood, and Asha in her grief goes on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi.
What sets Tagore apart from his Western contemporaries, for better or worse, is his use of mysticism and religious ethos, to define the way his protagonists think and act. While this book asks all the right questions, the answers, however, are hard to come by. The treatment accorded to widows was deplorable but the moralist will ask whether misfortune entails one to betray the trust of a friend by taking up with her husband out of sexual depravity even if he wants it as much as you do.
Tagore weaves the character of Bali masterfully with multiple brush strokes and presents her circumstances, both, as a product of the culmination of the social ills of the day as well as her own weakness. It is impossible to judge in matters of the heart, but does one smudged line blot the bigger picture? Even though he indulges in exposition of religious hypocrisy and superstition, the author imposes in its stead a line of ambivalent moral questioning and casuistry which could have been avoided.
One issue I have with the book is the shoddy translation. Sentences end abruptly and the dialogues are rather blunt. Tagore died before independence but his contribution to the freedom movement lives on and likewise, his fictional prophecy regarding partition proved to be correct. Independence was celebrated with much fanfare but the invisible hand from London that had cut apart and lacerated the limbs of the subcontinent had left in its wake suppurating sores that took long to heal.
The Western border probably was the worst affected by this dictum. Bengal was not spared either and amidst all the chaos of partition, it is into this newfangled country with the promise of a new destiny, that Tagore saw fit to send his heroine in her quest to escape from the tentacles of fate that had brought her nothing but ruin.
Zular One of the most famous novels of Tagore and a timeless classic of Bengali literature. Rajalakshmi, the mother, is kept company in her old age by her sister-in-law who is also a widow, and Behari, a very close friend of Mahendra is also a part of the family circle. And that begins a chain of events no even, not even Binodini can stop. This is feature allows you to search the site. In the love triangle that ensues, Behari who claims to have taken an oath of bachelorhood in return for Independence of the country, in nlvel of temptation, gracefully wards off the playful advances of Bali. Maybe some of the situations of the book do not apply to the way chokehr look at life, or our custo This is a beautifully written book and extremely interesting on the human level.
Rabindranath Tagore's Norm-Defying Novel, Chokher Bali
Tagore originally wrote in his regional Language Bengali. Later his works have been translated into English by himself and by other translators also. The title of the novel Chokher Bali explains the story line : Two young friends Binodini and Asha gradually become the irritant of each others eyes. The writer skillfully depicts the story of sorrows and unhappiness, desires and hurt ego resulting into emotional conflict, jealousy, deceit and distrust; creating a havoc in the life of all major characters. Portrayal of the protagonist Binodini is done by Tagore in a most accurate and realistic manner. The story is set in late 19th century. Tagore tells a compelling story of entangled relationships and probes deep into the psyche of main character Binodini.
CHOKHER BALI NOVEL PDF