The Inheritors- Aruna Chakravorti

This is a beautiful piece of work by an Indian author; flawlessly woven together to bring back to life a family’s forgotten history, where traditions have taken a backseat, to be at par with the changing times.

This is the author’s first novel and is written in a very thoughtful manner. The story is beautifully narrated taking the help of memoirs and letters. The narrator is Mono, who digs deep down into the lives of her family as she tries to piece together information on her family’s history for a book she is writing.

The backdrop here is a remote village in the shackles of ancient Bengal (a few centuries ago) where a conformist Vaidic Kulin Brahmin resided. Not only were these Brahmins considered superior to the other castes, they were well educated too. The story is set in 1897, the time when the Indian Freedom struggle had started taking shape..This piece depicts what changes the Brahmin’s family goes through and how hard-hitting the impact is on each of the members. The story is no less than a Jigsaw Puzzle-The narrator combines bits and pieces and travels from generation to generation to unravel the journey of her family, to untie the history behind it. She views this through the eyes of Alo, her grandmother Radharani, father Shibkali, brother Shashishekhar and sister-in-law Mrinalini and nieces Chuni, Noni and Mono.Their way of life, culture, their thinking was all so profound, that one cannot help but get affected by it.

As the family history unfolds, Mono realizes that her ancestors were not just some mere names heard of ages ago, but had a lot more to them. She develops a new approach towards them; she realizes they were real people with their own set of beliefs, ideologies and most importantly, their shortcomings and insecurities.

The high point of the novel would definitely be the moments where Mono resolves to bridge the gap between the past and the present and how the family reacts comes to terms with the Partition, each member in his own distinct way!

Read this book for Aruna Chakravorti’s meaningful interpretation of the family, right from the relations to the traditions.

Geetika Sachdev

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