Luxury

We was once so terrible that rice changed into a luxury: Nalini Bera

Nalini Bera changed into offered the Ananda Purashkar in 2019 for his novel, Subarnarenu Subarnarekha. The paintings are essential for two motives. First, it tells the stories of the maximum backward humans of Bengal — Shabars, Lodhas, Santhals, Kamars, Kumors, Bhuinyas, Bhumika’s and so on. (The award quotation examine: “You have re-located the non-Aryan India that stays buried in apathy and overlooks.”) Second, it has revived the culture of riverine epics in Bengali including Padma Nadir Majhi, Hansuli Banker Upakatha, Titas Ekti Nadir Naam, Ganga and Teesta Parer Brittanto.

Bera, an author for the last four a long time, has over a dozen novels and hundreds of published quick stories. I continually puzzled what the storyteller seemed like while studying his works. After numerous botched efforts to fulfill him, I subsequently got myself an appointment one Sunday. And there I observed him, at the top ground of his 4-storeyed house in Howrah surrounded using ponds and patches of green.

The creators observe it overlooks the Second Hooghly Bridge. As take a look at-rooms cross, this one too is stacked with books, trophies, shields, simplest all of it is topsy-turvy. Bera is sitting in a cane chair, and I take any other one in front of him. The air is packed with the smelly odor of insecticides. The cellular telephone rings incessantly. In between, I get a disjointed narrative punctuated with profuse apologies, the gist of that is — termites have destroyed his series of books, the pest control people are at paintings. However his wife isn’t on the town to address this case that is fast spinning out of his control.

As for the phone calls, says Bera, “It’s so embarrassing. Ever for the reason that award I were getting limitless requests to attend felicitation programs. I can’t refuse, especially the ones calling from my local village. Then there are requests from smaller publications to make contributions short tales, poems.”

Bera turned into born in a faraway village called Bacchurkhoanr in West Midnapore, one of the poorest districts of West Bengal. Bacchurkhoanr literally method a shed for calves. It is positioned at the trisection of Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand, on the banks of the Subarnarekha.

Bera recollects his youth there. He says, “I am a Kumor [potter] using beginning. We were once so poor that rice became luxurious for our circle of relatives of 31 individuals.” Most of the year, Bera and his siblings needed to continue to exist on Leto (soup product of baked tamarind seeds and dried mahua plants) or get (a soup of boiled corn seeds). He adds, “Our tribal neighbors were poorer; they lived on wild tubers including all tuna, wild culmination including kind, kasha, and snakes and video display units.”

It is ironical that Bera has become an officer inside the Food and Supplies Department of the kingdom authorities after he certified inside the kingdom civil provider assessments in 1978. He says, “I become imagined to look after the public distribution gadget.” Before his retirement, five years in the past, he had risen thru the ranks and turn out to be the director of the branch.

The enjoy of his growing-up years in a backward village amidst abject poverty imbues Bera’s literary creations. He says, “Unlike maximum upper caste writers in Bengali, my testimonies are primarily based on my lived experiences, pain and suffering.” To illustrate his factor, he talks about Advaita Mallabarman’s Titas Ekti Nadir Naam in which the writer explores the existence of fishermen at the banks of the Titas as an insider. In comparison, I point out that Manik Bandyopadhyay’s portrayal of boatmen in Padma Nadir Majhi misses some of the finer nuances, as the writer never lived with them. Bera thinks pretty of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay and Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay. “Bibhuti babu’s Aranyak is a pioneering novel with a completely feeling narrative of approximately non-Aryans or tribals. Tarashankar’s Hansuli Bank or Kobi depicts subaltern characters with accuracy,” he says. Both are works of empathy sprung off first-hand studies.

Subarnarenu Subarnarekha isn’t always an autobiography however the primary character is called Nalin — or Lalin, as pronounced using the unlettered villagers. Says Bera, “You’ll find bits and pieces of formative years and scores of humans within the novel. But I even have permit my creativeness wanders inside the folk factors and myths of the village.”

This e book opens as much as the city Indian hitherto little-explored geography and its even less-explored people — how these humans warfare to make ends meet, yet by no means lose the spirit or the feel of humor. The lyrical narrative brings to existence the arid beauty of the Chhotanagpur plateau and its historic man or woman. The personal talk in an unusual Saturday or pidgin tongue — a combination of Bengali, Odiya, Kurmali, and Santhali. “I use this language in my tales or else you gained’t get the appearance and sense of the location.” To make matters simpler for his readers, Bera has introduced a glossary in the state-of-the-art version of the ebook. Currently, Bera is busy penning the following elements of the unconventional. He says, “It is not a small story. It desires to be a trilogy.”

Bera is indebted to his grandmother and father for his storytelling abilties. He recollects how the former might regale her retinue of grandchildren with folks stories on darkish nights. His father turned into a kathak Thakur, a teller of testimonies who recited the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagwat within the village temple. Says Bera, “He sincerely sang the one’s hymns. I still recollect how I awoke on wintry weather mornings swaddled in a kantha and pay attention he sings — Hey Gobindo harey… Kripa koro.”

Bera starts to sing the tune himself as he narrates his life’s tale. The lyrics nudge him down memory lane, at which factor tears begin to roll down his cheeks. He says, “My father used to preserve the pages of the scripture wrapped in purple cloth.” The crimson cloth discovered its treasures to Bera while he was a boy of 10. He reminisces, “A newly married cousin secretly were given Vatsayana’s Kamasutra from the weekly market. We kids wolfed it voraciously, and the punthi was passed across the village surreptitiously.” The curious boy grew to become out to be an outstanding student.

Bera went to school in Rohini, four miles from his domestic. He says, “We had to move two rivers on the way to high school. During monsoons, we had to bypass instructions as the dirt-tracks had been inundated.” In Subarnarenu Subarnarekha, Bera describes how his village used to get isolated at the height of monsoons after jhop Baan or flash floods. He writes, “It was complete isolation from the rest of the world. We’d emerge as overall outsiders for those few days.”

 

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