WHEN YOUR GRANNY WAS A LITTLE GIRL by Manju Dasgupta
Sanskar Publications, 24 pages
Review by Ritwik Mallik
It is seldom that one comes across inspiring stories in our daily lives, let alone inspiring people. However, Manju Dasgupta is one such exception. Septuagenarian, Madam Dasgupta or MDG as she is fondly called, decided to pen her debut novel in a bid to share with her grandchildren priceless accounts of her childhood days. This was done in an attempt to bridge the gap that grandparents face in communicating with their grandsons and daughters in an age dominated by Facebook and other forms of social media.
The narration starts with the earliest memories of MDG and ends with the story of her father’s deteriorating health – a time when the author believes that her childhood ceased to exist. It is a journey of thirteen years dipped in history, nostalgia and most importantly subtle social messages which very few would’ve been able to pull off so brilliantly.
The author talks about times when joint families existed, of uncles, aunts and countless brothers and cousins living under the same roof. She talks about the condition of women in the pre-independence era, of aspiration-less lives and rigid, prohibitory social customs. She talks of visits to rural Bengal and quintessentially mouth watering food, vacations to the same place every year and a life so full of contentment that it makes one wonder what life has actually come to in modern India.
Saying so, two accounts of the author’s life makes this work highly commendable. The great famine of 1943 and the Hindu-Muslim riots find a mention in her life as a little girl. The trauma and circumspection that a child would go through in lights of those horrific events come out so naturally that it would make one feel like a witness to those acts. There is also the chance meeting with Gandhiji and its ever lasting impression on the author’s life.
This book serves as a well written lesson for all kids and adults on history and society of an India that we hardly know about. However, it might get off pace at times for people who know little about Bengali way of living, but on the flipside, one might get to learn so many new things.
If you would like to get your hands on a copy of the book, please contact me and I will be thrilled to do what I can to get it to you.