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Samaresh Majumdar: Chronicler of Bengal’s Turbulent 'Spring Thunder'

The Sahitya Akademi award winner was best known for his novels that recorded the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s when Naxalite movement started in the tea gardens and swept Bengal’s mind space.
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata: Samaresh Majumdar, one of the Titans of post-modernist Bengali literature, who died at a city hospital on Monday, had spent much of his childhood in the tea gardens of North Bengal and this experience left an indelible mark in his writings.

Majumdar,79, was best known for his quartet of 'Uttoradhikar' (heritage), 'Kalbela' (Moment of time), 'Kalpurush' (Man of the times) which recorded the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s when Naxalite movement’s "spring thunder" which started in the tea gardens, swept Bengal’s mind space.

His days in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Dooars district and his early friendship with tribal and migrant tea garden communities was reflected in many of his writings which were marked by a gentle understanding of human nature and society and their interplay.

"You cannot take the hills of North Bengal out of me ... What I have become is because of North Bengal, what the place has given to me," he had once told PTI in a literary meet.

Majumdar was also deeply influenced by his student days at Kolkata’s famous Scottish Church College.

"Without a first-hand knowledge of the turbulent student politics of the late 1960s and 1970s, I could not have fleshed out the character of Animesh and his friends (who figure in his award-winning quartet)," said the Sahitya Akademi winner in 2017.

Majumdar, who started his literary career in the 1960s, went on to write more than 200 novels and short stories, in different genres including novels, fiction, thrillers, children’s literature, travelogues and short stories. He is however best remembered for his vivid description of Bengal’s society and politics in the mid-20th century.

His other popular novels include Bandinibash (prison), Daybadhha (Responsibility), and Saatkahon (Tall tales).

His Kalbela, the second novel in the quartet written by him, won him the Sahitya Akademi Award, 1984. His first story appeared in the literary magazine ‘Desh’ in 1967 and his first novel was ‘Dour’ (Race).

Kalbela and another book written by him – ‘Buno Hansh’ (wild swan)- on the International smuggling racket, were adapted into films.

Apart from Sahitya Akademi, He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Bankim Puraskar, the Ananda Puraskar, and the Banga Bibhushan Samman conferred by West Bengal government in 2018.

His detective series for children with the hero – Arjun – remains an evergreen favourite with teenagers who continue to flock the city’s bookstores in search for Bengali novels in that series.

A grief stricken Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, another leading literary figure in Bengal, said "Samaresh was younger than me. He is gone but his work will live on. He will be remembered by Bengali-speaking audiences around the world.

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