The 1990 novel by celebrated Bengali writer Bani Basu “Swet Patharer Thala”, turned into an award-winning film starring Aparna Sen, is now available in an English version.
Considered a classic of Bengali literature, the novel is one of the first texts that has spoken of the agony, the struggle and the liberation of the oriental woman.
“A Plate of White Marble” tells the story of the ‘new woman’ of a time that has just witnessed the independence of a nation.
Bandana, the protagonist, while mourning the untimely death of her husband Abhijit Bhattacharya, eventually ceases to conform to the social connotation and ideals of widowhood, in an attempt to save her son Abhirup.
Abhirup cannot tolerate his mother in widow’s garb. And psychologically, it hurts to such an extent that, on the doctor’s advice, Bandana begins to wear colorful jeweled saree just for the sake of her son.
He dares to start his life over in every way thanks to his uncle. But naturally the road proves to be full of thorns as it gradually faces ridicule from many sectors of society.
She goes to her parents’ house with Abhirup and gets a job with the help of her husband’s friend. Abhirup learns to paint from an artist named Sudipto sarkar. One day she meets him. Little by little, through different incidents, they come into close contact with each other.
Sudipto gradually proves to be the only person to get the pulse of a dying Bandana. He even sketches a series of paintings, keeping her as a model, introspecting the inner dying cells of the introverted woman.
Abhirup cannot accept this relationship and is willing to leave it for it. At last he leaves the concrete safety walls alone to work for a much bigger reason. He joins an orphanage project and is finally released.
Regarded as one of the most versatile contemporary Bengali writers, Basu has written on a variety of topics ranging from history and mythology to society, psychology, and gender.
Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award, some of her other novels include “Antarghat” (The Enemy Within), “Maitreya Jatak” (The Birth of Maitreya) and “Kharap Chhele” (Dark Afternoons).
(This story was posted from a cable agency feed with no text changes.)