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.
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.