By Sunil Gangopadhyay
This novel is determined in nineteenth centruy Bengal opposed to the backdrop of the Bengal Renaissance and the 1857 rebellion. This translation from Bengali weaves background and fiction right into a hugely readable cloth.
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Stay out of this, you slut! If I don’t go through with this wedding, call me lower than the outcaste village servant. ) karataka-sastri: How soft spoken! venk’amma: Brother, if this match is made I will throw myself in a well or a pit. We are bearing the pain of the older girl like live coals on our chest. This man is no child, but he has no sense of pain or suffering or he would not have fixed this god-damned match. If you want to see me alive, find a way to get out of it. karataka-sastri: This is really a tough problem.
Girisam: All day your uncle kept egging me on to begin my lecture at suppertime. He promised to support me after I broached the topic. Noticing your father’s mood, I didn’t have the courage to open the topic and kept suppressing every word that came to the tip of my tongue. By the time we came to the curd-rice,29 I thought time was running out and made bold to begin my lecture. I had hardly begun the introduction when a couple of English words slipped past my tongue. Immediately your father fell into a rage and yelled: “These dirty English words!
Girisam: He is fine, sir, he is my uncle, my mother’s brother. 22 Girls for Sale agni-hotra avadhanlu: You don’t say! girisam: My uncle speaks highly of you whenever we talk of this part of the country. agni-hotra avadhanlu: He and I are good friends. See, this anger of mine is a weakness. I said all those words not knowing who you are. Please don’t mind them. girisam: Sir, elders like you can yell at kids like us; that’s only fair. karataka-sastri: (To himself:) At last my firebrand brother-in-law has met his match.
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