Trailokyanath Mukhopadhayay’s Kankabati
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translated by Nandini Bhattacharya
Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Central University of Jammu
This volume is the latest English language translation of Trailokyanath Mukhopadhay’s story about Kankabati, a little girl in nineteenth century Bengal’s Kusumghati. It is textured with annotations, and with graphics that accompanied the original edition. Publicized originally as a modern fairy tale, this story tells of Kankabati’s dreams of a series of adventures in bizarre places and situations. She visits an underwater kingdom of fishes; delves into dense forests andmysterious caves where ghouls like Nakeshwari reside; and ventures out into the skies astride a khokkosh carrier, to the domain of a sick moon and his quarrelsome family. The narrative also dwells on Kankabati’s and Khetu’s love for each other in face of death, dishonour and all earthly enticements. While Kankabati is truly riveting as a fantasy, with meaningless quarrels, endless plotting, serio-comic villains, and unexpected wellsprings of generosity it is also enjoyable as a graphic description of village life in fin-de- siècle Bengal.