In the Mood for Love

February 24, 2009

'My Kind of Girl' by Buddhadeva Bose

There was always a Buddhadeva Bose peeping out of sundry bookshelves in our house when we were growing up. But I actually got to bond with him years later — and that was because of my mother. She loved the works of Bose’s writer-wife, Pratibha, and it was my job to go looking for her books in Bangla book shops — all strangely dusty — across Delhi. Multi-faceted Buddhadeva (1908-1974) — novelist, essayist, poet, short-story writer and translator –and his wife were the first couple of Bengali lit.

My Kind of Girl

All this came back to me when I found a neat little book lying on my desk a few days ago. ‘My Kind of Girl’, elegantly cloth-bound with a pink and grey paisley motif. It was a translated-into-English copy of Buddhadeva’s 1951 novella, ‘Moner Moto Meye’, its cover designed by Sabyasachi (yes, the same guy who does those gorgeous threads). I began flipping through the gilt-edged pages, and couldn’t let go till I’d finished.

Four middle-aged strangers — a bureaucrat, a doctor, a contractor and a poet — are sitting in the waiting room of a railway station. It’s a cold December night, and the sight of a newly-wedded couple prompts the men to share the warmth of their own stories of love and longing. The contractor recalls Malati, the professor’s unyielding daughter. The bureaucrat remembers Pakhi’s kisses on a moonlit night. The doctor talks about his wife, Bina, and her love for his old friend, Ramen. And the poet. Ah, the poet.

It’s beautifully written and produced (I would get it just for the lovely retro jacket), as alive today as it was back when it was written. Barring a few minor inconsistencies, the translation is nuanced. And almost nothing in lost.

This is a book you have to read. And now — while love is still in the air.

My Kind of Girl, by Buddhadeva Bose, Random House India, Price: Rs 350.

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