Book Title: Restless Waters of The Ichhamati
Author: Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay
Translated from Bengali by : Rimli Bhattacharya
Total Number of Pages: 400
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Publication Date: 20 March 2018
Genre: Fiction / Literary Fiction
Restless Waters of the Ichhamati is a celebration of flora and fauna, particularly of the profusion of commonly found plant life that flourishes in most regions of Bengal. The gaze of a slow-moving attentive river-farer brings into view glimpses of vibrant plant life, traces of human habitation and changes of sky and water in the course of seasons. These are signs, evoking the flow of time in which generations unknown have lived and those unborn will live along the Ichhamati’s banks as it wends its way through Jessore district towards the Bay of Bengal. Born of this tension between the ephemeral and the forever, the novel’s own riverine course dispenses with chapter breaks—a writer’s decision that the translation follows.
REVIEWED BY SOHINEE DEY
When I decided to start with book reviewing, one of the hing which I was really happy about was that I got to read books written in other languages but translated to English. This allowed me the exposure to authors from different regions of the world. Ichamati by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay is originally written in the Bengali language which also happens to be my mother tongue. Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay is a very famous name in Bengal and his stories are popular amongst all generations of people. His stories always reflects the old Bengal environment. Even though I have heard about this author from my mother and have listened to the stories she used to read out to me from his books, I haven’t actually read any of his books myself.
The book is set in the backdrop of a village situated near the Ichamati river. The caste system was much more prevalent in the early days than now and this reflects in the narrative of the prose. The characters are mainly involved in indigo plantation who fears their ‘saheb’ and are living a peasant’s life. The lives of these indigo planters are much more highlighted than incidences regarding the river Ichhamati. The flow of Ichamati is used as a simile to compare the lives of the people in the village to that of the river.
The natural flora and fauna is shown in abundance in this book and also how the indigo plantation was affecting the overall environment has been talked about. Also these indigo planters were often mistreated and were underpaid than the actual wages by the British people. While the tone of the book isn’t accusatory, the narrative doesn’t leave any chance but to mention the sufferings of these people and how the flora and fauna was being destroyed.
The book is written in a long prose narrative and it is quite a thick book so, it might get a bit boring after a few pages as one scene takes up a lot of time. Since, I haven’t read the original book, I can’t comment on whether the translated work is exactly the same as the original one.
Restless Waters of The Ichhamati focuses on showcasing the culture and society of Bengal and also has a story of the lives of the people working in the Molhati Indigo Plantation running parallelly. The book covers the regular lives of these families and also shows their working in the Indigo field.
MY FINAL VERDICT
I would definitely recommend this book to readers who like to read translated books and enjoys literatures of different languages other than English. Also, Bengalis like me would be able to connect with the book better but if you have knowledge about Bengal, I don’t think understanding this book would be a problem.
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING: ⭐⭐⭐.8 / ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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