Nalak By Abanindranath Tagore – Translated by Urbi Bhaduri

Towards the end of 2019, I received an email from Urbi asking if I would like to read a book she had translated. She sent me a blurb and I was definitely interested. I forgot all about it until the book turned up in my mailbox in February of this year. It is a slim volume, less than 100 pages with a gorgeous cover. What made it special was the inscription inside by Urbi.

I meant to sit with the book that weekend. The weekend became months and then Urbi emailed again today and I was consumed by guilt. I pulled the book out and read it fairly quickly. Nalak tells the story of a little boy who is a Rishi’s helper. The story is the one of yearning. The longing of a devotee to know his Master. It is the story of a prince in his gilded castle and a boy yearning for the freedom of the forests. It is about parallel lives. It is the unspoken bond between two special souls. The book is poetry. The descriptions of the forests and the birds and the era in which Gautama Buddha lived is lush and captivating.

I found myself wishing more than once that I could know what those trees looked like, what those flowers smelled like and what that grass felt like. When I finished the book, there was a sense of having read something profound, something that needs to sit and simmer in my head. I will be revisiting this book in sections over the next few days.

If you are fascinated by Buddhism, if philosophy appeals to you, if magic mysticism is your thing, then pick up this translation. If you can read Bengali, then pick the original and relish the magic the vernacular imparts, the kind of things that get lost in translation.

Laksh

Author. Parent.

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