Book Review: Osotto Noi, a collection of Bengali short stories
“Osotto Noi”, a collection of 11 Bengali short stories, written by Banani Sikdar, is a heart-warming mix of unconventional stories—stories that are simple but have a lot of emotion in them and leave a pleasant aftertaste.
And they are about women protagonists — women who are fighting with their daily lives, who are surviving from day-to-day, and are winning in the game of life.
Each of the 11 stories touch on different themes but here I would be talking about the ones that affected me the most at a personal level.
The first story that I’d like to mention is “Ei Jodi Hoi Valobasha”. I’m absolutely sure that every daughter is going to identify with this story and connect with the protagonist, Smriti.
Here Smiti is the only child of a single father. After her mother’s demise, her father gives up his high-flying career just to raise her up with the love and care of a mother. And then one day she gets married and moves out with her husband, leaving her old father alone.
But she can’t settle down peacefully with her husband; she constantly worries about her father. Her husband is a loving man—but that love includes only her and not her father.
This story raises a pertinent question about the true meaning of love and marriage, about the responsibilities of a son-in-law.
Does marriage for a woman mean severing all the old ties and cling only to the new one? What should be the expectations here?
This story makes you ponder on this beautiful theme with a touching narrative.
Another wonderful story is “Compromise”.
Casting couch in the film industry is a well-known secret. Women come into this industry with a lot of dreams and often the road to success lies through sexual exploitation.
Here is a story about a spirited and talented young woman who is on the brink of giving up and a producer who seems like all other perverted, opportunistic bastards. Their conversation goes the normal way as expected, but what’s really going through their minds as they agree to strike a deal?
This story does not go the way the readers would expect and it just makes you realise that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk.
You never know what’s on the other side of a river if you don’t plunge in and wade your way through.
Another story that’s absolutely a treat for its sheer simplicity is “Chor”. It is the story of a single mother and her baby daughter.
The mother is constantly dealing with the society and her household demands to raise her daughter and she feels lonely most of the times. But is a mother ever really alone when she has her daughter with her? In one word, beautiful!
Reading this anthology of short stories is like sipping your favourite coffee, on a cool, rainy afternoon.
It won’t leave you astonished with its themes and ideas; nothing like that.
But each of these stories exude a certain comfort—a comfort that comes with a familiar world, with familiar people.
(Reviewed by Priya Das)