For some reason, I am instantly attracted towards partition literature. There’s so much depth in these stories that books like Pinjar, Quetta to Delhi have stayed with me. Also, I don’t get into books by reading their blurb. I like to be surprised. So when I picked up Everything and nothing by Nilotpal Kumar Dutta, it perked me up in no time. I was reading partition literature but it spoke of the turmoil from the view point of Bengal!

The book follows the story of Damayanti. She is granddaughter of one of the most prominent personalities of Dacca. She has lived in Dacca all her life. And she presumes that Dacca will be her home forever. But she hasn’t a clue what lies ahead of Independence. Independence brings hope and joy for some while Dacca is torn apart from India and becomes a part of East Pakistan. She is thrown out of her home and has to witness bloodshed all around.

This book tore me apart. I was extremely involved in the life of Damayanti and her friends. This book can be seen as a coming-of-the-age story of not just Damayanti but India as well. It can be seen as an allegorical work. And that’s commendable the way author has woven the story. I have read such a fine work of fiction after a long time. If I compare this book to yet another allegorical work of modern India, the first English novel, Rajmohan’s wife penned by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, then I won’t be wrong. Be it Matangi or be it Damyanti, they both embody the India of the time, it’s culture, it’s thought process, the turmoil, the courage, the breaking down and the reformation.

This book speaks about Everything that India has gone through and how Nothing hasn’t changed till date. The author draws a circle of life with this work. Damayanti’s life comes a full circle when she sees an unfulfilled dream getting fullfiled in the form of her grandchildren. I don’t want to add spoilers here so I won’t divulge much. But the writing style of the author easily gets us hooked to the book. The story moves in flashback and the language is quite lucid. Being an ardent lover of Bong culture I loved how subtly the author peppers the ethos throughout the book.

What didn’t go down well with me were too many characters. It sort of confused me initially. But playing around so many characters is a tough row to hoe for sure and the author does so with aplomb.

One too many times I found myself teary-eyed and with gooseflesh. So it’s understandable that I devoured this book in a blink and it left me satiated. I would truly hope to see this book adapted into a webseries sometime soon.

Rating – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher – Tara press
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