Do you have a child who gobbles up English literature but is somehow not too comfortable with Bengali? Or has your child started reading in Bengali, and you aren’t sure what books to gift him?
Or do YOU just want to take a stroll down the memory lane?
In any case, here is a list of 9 books every Bengali grows up with:
Be it in the voluminous Feluda Shomogro we all have, or the Gopa Mazumder translation, or the stories included as comics in Anandamela, Feluda is one character who has touched every Bengali soul, teaching it to think rationally. Simply unputdownable.
It is also the first Bengali movie that a kid should see (Take note, parents who are fans of Dev and Uttam Kumar). Follow it up with Heerok Raja’r Deshe and Gupi Bagha Phirey Elo for an afternoon of undiluted pleasure.
It is the first Bengali adventure novel for a lot of us. The thrills we got when Shonkor stepped out of his tent at midnight looking for Alvarez can never be replicated in any movie. Read it out to your child to give him the time of his life!
You just could not let go of the books once you laid your hands on them. Be it Keltu-da’s antics, or be it their witty solutions to get out of sticky situations, or be it the feeling of enjoyment when the bad guy got what he deserved, they kept us turning the pages. (Read Narayan Debnath’s interview here) (Read my personal experience on meeting Debnath Babu here)
Gogol taught us that it doesn’t take an adult to become a goenda; Kakababu took us on journeys across India on his crutches, solving mysteries. Mitin-Mashi is a recent favourite of the kids who are growing up with Anandamela Pujabarshiki. Inarguably the coolest female detective in Bengali literature.
A Bengali recalls with pride about Netaji (the one who’s still alive) leading a movement against Prof Oaten while still a student. He recalls with pride the reaction of the Americans when Swamiji said, “Brothers and Sisters of America.” His source of all this information of course is not his history book but his grandmother’s lessons, Amar Chitra Katha texts and numerous articles from any place but the school text-book.
Admit it, you have read at least one Bengali translation in your lifetime. Usually it’s Shakespeare, and sometimes it is even classics like Count of Monte Christo, Hunchback of Notre Dame and the like.
Maybe this should have been at the start of this list: the first book we have all been made to read. Also, remember the songs that were tuned to the verses of the Bornoporichoi? “aw-e awjogor ashche tere… Aam-ti ami khabo pere.”
The dada’s taught us how to live life to its fullest. These are some of the few books which will make your child laugh out loud, literally, while reading it. De La Grande Mephistopheles!
Have more to add to this list? Do comment below!