Sunday, April 15, 2007
Subimal Misra stories blog
Yesterday afternoon, as I read retired civil servant and scholar D Bandopadhyay's article in The Statesman, quoting National Sample Survey data, about intimations of great Bengal famine like conditions in parts of West Bengal, I remembered Zainul Abedin's sketches from the Bengal famine (1943). As well as Subimal Misra's short-story haran majhir bidhoba bou-er moda ba shonar gandhi-murti, written in 1969. Eventually that led to my deciding to start a blog-site to share my translations of Subimal Misra's short stories.
And thus I also made the connection, for the first time: 1943. The year of the great Bengal famine, the year Zainul Abedin travelled through the countryside and saw starving people dying by the roadside on their way to the cities in search of food, and made a series of sketches, called chiyattorer monontor, rendered in Chinese ink and brush on cheap packing paper, which were published in a Calcutta daily called Swadhinota (meaning, independence). The year Subimal Misra was born. Little wonder then that he went on to do what he did. Could it have been otherwise?
Misra's story haran majhir bidhoba bou-er moda ba shonar gandhi-murti - also about starvation, and about relentless pauperisation, represents another work like Zainul Abedin's, this time in post-independence Bengal, in the late 60s. It is as iconic. It was first published in a literary magazine in 1969, and then anthologised in his first published volume, which bore the title of this story.
This year marks 40 years of Subimal Misra's writing. I hope I will be able to organise a quiet felicitation. Through the Subimal Misra stories blog, I pay tribute to this unique and valiant figure in the world of literature.
Zainul Abedin (1914-1976) was memorialised in Bangladesh as Shilpacharya, or great teacher of the arts. Subimal Misra is for me Sahityacharya, a great teacher of literature.
The new blog, titled Anti-stories, is accessible here.