10 October 2023 | By: Writing Buddha

Didi by Nirupama Devi/Alo Shome (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!

2085th BLOG POST

31st Book of 2023

I recently got an opportunity to read a book which was written more than 100 years back in 1915 by Nirupama Devi named “Didi”. It was originally written in Bengali language and is known to be one of its modern classics. I have read its English translation currently which has been translated by Alo Shome. This 232-pages book published by Rupa Publications speaks about the society during that era when there weren’t many legal parameters for the society to maintain good balance with all the parties/genders/people.


In this book, Didi, Nirupama Devi talks about the kind of life few women had to lead due to the issues such as polygamy, widowhood etc. She also speaks about how boys were themselves confused about their personalities as most of them were governed by their father and did what was asked them to do. Author has used three major characters – Surama, Amar and Charu to make us go through the societal dilemma as well as the different state of mind that a human being goes through when they get stuck in a life which is not of their choice.


There are several other supporting characters also who gives story a nice push whenever it moves slow. The plot doesn’t have much but it is still unique as the circumstances keeps changing for all the characters due to unforeseen happenings around them in family and beyond. I liked the shades in the character of Surama – who is basically the protagonist in the story. The way she stays calm even after knowing that her husband is about to bring second wife at home gives you inner strength. Her rebellious nature once she finds another woman under the same roof makes you uncomfortable to see change in her demeanor. Then, the chemistry between both- Surama and Charu, the 2nd wife of Amar, is written so magically that it is what also gives the name to the title of the book- DIDI. I was surprised to read their conversations where Surama regularly guided and helped her on day-to-day basis.


The character of Amar is also dynamic as he ends up getting married for both the times due to pressure and circumstances. He has to deal with the changed attitude of Surama due to his decision of 2nd marriage but he continues to handle the situation without anyone’s support. He loses control on his emotions in between but realizes that he is doing wrong with people in his life. Similarly, the chemistry between Surama and her father-in-law is so beautiful that every girl would want to get married in a home with such an impartial and understanding guardian.


Author has also used the locales and aesthetics of the era beautifully. All those letter scenes are so nostalgic as someone who’s born in 90s, I was able to relate with the curiosity of sending and receiving letters. The temple scenes are nicely described which makes us imagine the whole scenario easily.


Overall, the book helps us understand the challenges of human beings when they are thrown into circumstances they weren’t prepared to handle. I feel that the translation might have taken away a bit of the essence from the story but still, it helps you understand the intent behind the creation of the tale. I give this book 3.5* out of 5.






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