28 February, 2021

A Story Sterling Pure

Saraogi's fantastical reconstructions fill in a major silence in the evolution of Bengal's history - with a partial voice no doubt

A Story Sterling Pure

The best thing about Kolkata is its adaptability. From the Sahibs of the East India Company to the squatters outside Howrah station, the city has played host to a startling range of dramatis personae. Among those who, in turn, changed the face of Kolkata were the Marwaris from Rajasthan -- astute businessmen, traders, bankers, but culturally insular. 

Alka Saraogi's  captivating novel about a community of settlers not only records the transformations but also teases the reader about the very process by which ancestral legends are concocted. And Kishore Babu's story is remarkably told in the honour code of Bengal's famous goldsmiths, "not 22 by 22 carat purity", but by blending "two carats of other elements in a sterling pure  story of 24 carats".

Kishore Babu, born in 1925, subjected to bypass surgery in 1997, suddenly develops a penchant for wandering the streets of the old city and rummaging through the compartments of history. Behind the present day affluence of his family lies the suppressed tale of cramped quarters in North Kolkata,...

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