Pather Panchali #BestFriendBook

My father was a book lover. He would buy books, even though we had no permanent place to stay. We would move from one rented accommodation to another. We would move from one city to another. These books were all kept in two steel trunks. Once in a year, we shall keep them in sun to prevent attack of  termites. One such time, I got hold of Bibhuti Bhushan Bandyopadhyay’s “Pather Panchali”.

I finished the book in one sitting. Did not understand the inner meeting. Loved the story intuitively. Pather Panchali is the story of a family from a village named Nischindipur (a place where there is no worry) in rural Bengal. Family consisted of Apu, his sister Durga, and mother aptly named Sarbojoya (one who has conquered everything). Family’s financial situation was that of a hand to mouth existence. Head of the family, Harihar, was away most of the time, earning a living as a priest in Varanasi. He did not have a place for himself to sleep at night. He could not take his family there.

Apu was curious child. Apu found joy in small things of life. Apu wanted to fathom the depth of the unknown.  Thrill of running away from home to watch a train pass by and vanish in distant horizon. Where does the railway track go to? Watching a Santhal man travel through his village, Apu would wonder where the man lived, if he could visit his village far away and follow him upto village boundary and watch him walk away and go out of sight..

An eternal romantic, Apu loved nature. Early morning sunshine kissing due smeared grass, birds chirpting in bushes, a dove singing on a lazy summer afternoon, an evening sunset, ciccadas playing concert in the evening, and a full moon emerging from behind a bamboo forest on Lakshmi Poornima night.

Apu was a shy and sensitive kid, when he was in village or when he moved to Benaras to live with his father. He was moved by kindlness of landlords daughter Leela, who would share her quota of milk with Apu, knowing that he had not had his lunch. Pather Panchali and Apu exudes a sense of decency, a sense of  dignity, and an innate sense of civility, some traits of a quitessential Bengali Bhadralok.

Reading Pather Panchali and Apu, opened my eyes to look at nature in a different way, I go a sense of freedom, a sense of moving on road where journey is more important than destination. I also learnt that one may not have money, but they need not lack dignity. I ended up reading “Aprajito” (one who is undefeated), by the same author that deals with adult Apu.

The present post is part of Indispire prompt. More posts on the prompt may be found here.

12 thoughts on “Pather Panchali #BestFriendBook

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    1. Thank you for reading this post. Though critically acclaimed, I felt the movie did not do justice to the book. Movie is in black and white. That appears somewhat different to eyes. Intense love that the author feels for nature, for freedom, for life cannot be portrayed that easily. Movie was criticized for highlighting Indian poverty. Rural Bengal was and still is poor in material wealth. Red the book if you can with an open mind and if possible in Bengali.

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    1. Times change as do people. In the first half of twentieth century and even in the second half, there were literary giants. Nowadays, I don’t enjoy the stories as much. I am getting old. New people are coming up. Society is in a churn.

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    1. Thank you for reading. Yes you are right about the name. It is known as Nischindipur. I felt there is no such word in Bengali as Nischinda, it must have come from Nischinta. Thank you for pointing it out.

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    2. Thank you for reading and correction. Yes, it is Nischindipur. Since in Bengali Nischinda is not a word in Bengali, I thought it must have come from Nischinta.

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