Aparajito (The unvanquished)

The deepening tale of Apu continues in the environs of Ganga in holy city Benaras. The wide-eyed wonder is now a curious teenager, getting intellectual and spiritual moorings in the ghats of Ganga. Springs in individuality. There is a gradual estrangement from his mother. There is a poignant conflict. Harihar dies. Apu frightens, suddenly awakens, brings water from the holy Ganga for his father to drink before he dies. 'Birds wheel across the sky'. Penniless, both fend for themselves. All goes well. And then there is the realisation that all is not well. Mother thinks Apu is for better things. Mother decided to return to the city her uncle lived. Thus begins yet another phase in Apu's life. Apu doesn't fit in the new life. He is not ready to take up the role his father plays. He wants to go beyond the village life, to satiate his thirst for knowledge. Mother can't accept her son's going away to Kolkata. He leaves, nevertheless, leaving his mother to loneliness. Mother's love assails him, yet not drowns. Under 'uncomfortable moments of transition' Apu manages to live in Calcutta. Calcutta is different. Mother is lonely; all she has to live for is Apu's return. Without Apu she is a listless shadow, gazing at a pond, 'where fireflies weave their pattern of light.' Then the mother dies, 'on a night sparkling with dancing fireflies'. Son comes. He grieves but leaves to carry on his new life. Apu, not a conventional son, yet a usual son who loved his mother. Once asked, why there is so much death, Satyajit said, because 'in life, there is so much death'.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh