Like a dazzling feather that has fluttered down from some unknown place. . . . How long will the feather keep its colours, waiting? The ‘feather’ stands for memories of childhood. Memories don’t wait.
In Our Sanitikentan, the late Mahasweta Devi, one of India’s most celebrated writers, vividly narrates her days as a schoolgirl in the 1930s. As the aging author struggles to recapture vignettes of her childhood, these reminiscences bring to the written page not only her individual sensibility but an entire ethos.
Santiniketan is home to the school and university founded by the foremost literary and cultural icon of India, Rabindranath Tagore. In these pages, a forgotten Santiniketan, seen through the innocent eyes of a young girl, comes to life—the place, its people, flora and fauna, along with its educational environment, culture of free creative expression, vision of harmonious coexistence between natural and human worlds, and the towering presence of Tagore himself. Alongside, we get a glimpse of the private Mahasweta—her inner life, family and associates, and the early experiences that shaped her personality.
A nostalgic journey to a bygone era, harking back to its simple yet profound values—so distant today and so urgent yet again—Our Santiniketan is an invaluable addition to Devi’s rich oeuvre available in English translation.
‘Reading this memoir has been like an idyllic escape into a Rousseauvian world where one is transported to an existence beyond mundane, manmade borders. That Santiniketan and Sriniketan were both projects shattering the confines of "narrow domestic walls" is evident with the involvement of thinkers, scientists, writers and ideators from all over the world. The translation of the memoir has actually captured that surge of energy that could help us move towards a better, more humanitarian world. This is an intense, immersive, inspiring and refreshing read.’—Mitali Chakravarty, The Daily Star. Read the full review here.
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