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Book Review: Photikchand...Golpoguli by Orpheus Rayswarnadhir

Photikchand...Golpoguli by Orpheus Rayswarnadhir is an engrossing and moving Bengali novel mainly backdropped against Raysugada, a fictitious place and other places of Eastern India Malbhumi region. It is a titular novel; the name in the title is of the lead character – Photikchand. The lead character remains enigmatic due to his involvement in dreams and fantasy. As the novel starts, we get to know that he is fazed by tales from local folktales and mythology. He has that penchant for writing diaries and making stories.

Photik falls in love with a girl and thus settles in a remote isolated place called Raysugada. Though outwardly he has no rich history of parents and no particular lineage to boast off, mainly he is like a rootless nomad. However, his character has strength, mettle, and grit. Can he overcome his fantasies of his dreamlands and live a normal life with his life partner in a new place? Well, we can find out that later as we chug ahead with the plotline.

The novel’s underlying theme deals with water crises and curses. Many tales of Raysugada’s earlier riches and rains and blessings sweep around in the story like banter as in the current time the place becomes cursed with no rain. The Drought has hit it hard. The inward feelings of people are of fear and queer notion; they believe God or some deity has cast its curse on the place. Photik dreams of bringing cans of water to Raysugada – well is it so easy as it looks? Or is the whole episode of bringing a can of water, metaphorical? Another set of untold stories of its enigma keep people engaged in a gamut of superstitions.

Though its roots are drawn in ancient times and beliefs, the story is quite contemporary. In the book, you will find mention of water crises; some places have that. And Raysugada is one such place. In the meantime a strange disease reaches the country and Raysugada. The strange disease is Covid. Photik and his politician friend Probin and many more got infected. Photik’s condition became serious and Probin after recovery arranged for his treatment in the city, so as it happened in the past everything in Photik’s life changed again.

While he was admitted in the city hospital, Probin, his friend was busy campaigning in the ensuing parliamentary election in the country. In the hospital, Dr. Kalil, and a nurse who took special care of Photik gave him a new life. And after the election was over, Probin got defeated, and they all returned to new settlements. There Photik once again dreamed of starting a new life with the nurse and she too seemed to be accepting their fate of living together and were exploring the possibility of publishing Photik’s diary. And those are the stories told here.

A sense of community binds them forever. Due to them the narrative gains depth and complexity from the well-drawn people, most of them battling personal demons and conflicts. Overall, the narrative develops a sense of mystery and intrigue that holds readers attention from start to finish.

With effective handling of natural intricacies and the consequences of unspoken truths, the author creates a story that is both tragic and unputdownable. In Bengali literature, such an intense and intriguing work of literature is commendable and seeks applaud from reading communities.

The book is available to purchase from Amazon India


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