A Grain of Sand: Chokher Bali

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Penguin, 2003 - Bengali fiction - 287 pages
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A Timeless Tale Of Complex Emotional Relationships From An Acknowledged Master

Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture Directed By Rituparno Ghosh, Chokher Bali Is Nobel Prize-Winning Author Rabindranath Tagore S Classic Exposition Of An Extramarital Affair That Takes Place Within The Confines Of A Joint Family.

It Is The Story Of The Rich, Flamboyant Mahendra And His Simple, Demure, Beautiful Wife Asha A Young Couple Who Are Befriended By The Pragmatic Bihari. Their Cosy Domestic Scenario Undergoes Great Upheaval With The Introduction Of The Vivacious Binodini, A Young, Attractive Widow Who Comes To Live With Them. Asha And Binodini Become Bosom Pals. Binodini Is Initially Drawn To Bihari But Then Begins To Respond To The Advances Of Mahendra, Who Has Become Obsessively Attracted To Her. After Several Twists And Turns, Binodini Elopes With Mahendra, Leaving The Entire Family In Turmoil. Bihari Pursues Them To Allahabad And Succeeds In Bringing Them Back To Kolkata, But The Question Remains: Can A Marriage That Has Once Been Ruptured By Breach Of Trust Be Mended Again Into A Meaningful Relationship?

On The One Hand, A Grain Of Sand: Chokher Bali Is A Sensational Account Of Two Illicit Relationships: Mahendra S Infatuation With Binodini Which Blinds Him To Everything Else, And Binodini S Secret Passion For Bihari Of Which She Is Never Able To Speak. On The Other Hand, It Is A Complex Tapestry Woven By The Emotional Interplay Between Five Finely Etched Characters: The Impulsive Mahendra, His Adoring Mother Rajlakshmi, The Frail And Sensitive Asha, The Strong, Silent Bihari, And The Self-Willed And Irresistibly Attractive Binodini.

A Compelling Portrayal Of The Complexity Of Relationships And Of Human Character, This Landmark Novel Is Just As Powerful And Thought-Provoking Today As It Was A Hundred Years Ago, When It Was Written.

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About the author (2003)

Rabindranath Tagore was born May 7, 1861 in Calcutta, India into a wealthy Brahmin family. Tagore received his education at home. He was taught in Bengali, with English lessons in the afternoon. Tagore spent a brief time at St. Xavier's Jesuit school, but found the conventional system of education uncongenial. In 1879, he enrolled at University College, at London, but was called back by his father to return to India in 1880. During the first 51 years of his life, he achieved some success in the Calcutta area of India where he was born and raised with his many stories, songs and plays. His short stories were published monthly in a friend's magazine and he even played the lead role in a few of the public performances of his plays. Otherwise, he was little known outside of the Calcutta area, and not known at all outside of India. This all changed in 1912 when Tagore returned to England for the first time since his failed attempt at law school as a teenager. Now a man of 51, his was accompanied by his son. On the way over to England he began translating, for the first time, his latest selections of poems, Gitanjali, into English. Almost all of his work prior to that time had been written in his native tongue of Bengali. Tagore's one friend in England, a famous artist he had met in India, Rothenstein, learned of the translation, and asked to see it. Reluctantly, Tagore let him have the notebook. The poems were incredible. He called his friend, W.B. Yeats, and talked Yeats into looking at the hand scrawled notebook. Yeats was enthralled. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 in a limited edition by the India Society in London. Thereafter, both the poetry and the man were an instant sensation, first in London literary circles, and soon thereafter in the entire world. Less than a year later, in 1913, Rabindranath received the Nobel Prize for literature. He was the first non-westerner to be so honored. Overnight he became famous and began world lecture tours promoting inter-cultural harmony and understanding. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V. In 1919, following the Amritsar massacre of 400 Indian demonstrators by British troops, Sir Tagore renounced his Knighthood. He used the funds from his writing and lecturing to expand upon the school he had founded in 1901 now known as Visva Bharati . Tagore's multi-cultural educational efforts were an inspiration to many, including his friend, Count Hermann Keyserling of Estonia. Count Keyserling founded his own school in 1920, patterned upon Tagore's school, under the name School of Wisdom. Rabindranath Tagore led the opening program of the School of Wisdom in 1920, and participated in several of its programs thereafter. As a writer, Tagore primarily worked in Bengali, but after his success with Gitanjali, he translated many of his other works into English. He wrote over one thousand poems; eight volumes of short stories; almost two dozen plays and play-lets; eight novels; and many books and essays on philosophy, religion, education and social topics. Aside from words and drama, his other great love was music. He composed more than two thousand songs, both the music and lyrics. Two of them became the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. In 1929 he even began painting. Only hours before he died on August 7, in 1941, Tagore dictated his last poem.

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