The Climbing Spinach Trellis

I fell in love with short stories when I was in school. We had to read from a textbook of Bengali short stories and I was introduced to a man named Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay.

Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (12 September 1894 – 1 November 1950) is possibly one of the greatest writers of modern Bengali literature. His best known work is the autobiographical Pather Panchali which was later adapted (along with Aparajito, the sequel) into The Apu Trilogy of films directed by Satyajit Ray. He wrote 16 novels and over two hundred short stories.

His stories were set in rural Bengal and he wrote about ordinary people, their dreams and desires, of mundane, often commonplace things and situations. Yet his stories had a lyrical quality that elevated them beyond the ordinary. There was no unnecessary drama or conflict just vignettes of life.

Pui Macha or পুঁই মাচা (The Climbing Spinach Trellis) is one of my favourite short stories. It is a poignant tale about a mother’s relationship with her gluttonous daughter. When I first wrote about the story, many asked for an English translation. I have finally managed to find a translation on the Internet! While this version has a few typos and grammatical errors, it still conveys the essence of the story.

Read the story here.

I must confess that I read it this morning (after a gap of nearly 25 years) and it still made me weep.

Such is the power of Bibhutibhusan’s storytelling.

3 thoughts on “The Climbing Spinach Trellis

  1. Story of a time when the word “pot” meant vessel; a time when emotional attachment with family meant a lot. Now when families are almost extinguished in metro cities, and there is a wide difference between urban and rural feeling, I don’t know how many english speaking readers would associate themselves with these stories without judgement. Well, social issues like these are solved long back – child marriage abolished and social pressure gone , also vanished relations which cared. Thank you for presenting a slice of Bibutibhishan’s world here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Story of a time when pot meant vessel and family and society meant to lot to people. Not sure how much today’s urban readers, to whom individual choices became a reality would associate with this – at a time when child marriage abolished, social pressure removed, also pointless emotional attachments are avoided. Probably I connect while I have seen them in my childhood. Thank you for presenting a slice of Bibhutibhusan’s work area.

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    1. I feel some themes are universal. Child marriage might have been removed in some areas but social pressures have magnified. I consider him an inspiration and I hope others see the beauty in his storytelling. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 2 people

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