Book: The Home and the World by Rabindranath Tagore
#98 on the Telegraph’s 100 novels everyone should read.
What the story is about?
The book is set in 1908 in one of India’s Maharaja’s estate. There are three main characters: Nikhil (the righteous Maharaja), Bimala (his wife), and Sandip (an outspoken political leader, and Nikhil’s old friend). The book is written in first person as each chapter flips between narrating the perspective and thoughts of each of the three main characters. It is a political tragedy, which sets the political ground and foreshadows the outcome of the partition in 1947.
Honestly, this was a very hard read for me and took me a while to finish, even though it is just 200 pages.
1) Philosophical writing:
I am honored to read a book written by the man who wrote the Indian national anthem, but I think his writing is above my IQ level. My mommy brain strained to get all the lessons and information given, that I had to reread some passages and sometimes even full pages. I am sure I didn’t get the full meaning of his philosophy, and missed many lessons on the way.
Plus I didn’t really understand the struggle that this book depicts. Bimala was infatuated with Sandip, the strong talking freedom fighter and struggled to balance this feeling with the feelings towards her husband. Apparently, this symbolizes the struggle between the love of Western culture and the revolution against it, hence the name of the book: the home and the world. But I didn’t really understand which character was the ‘home’ and which was the ‘world’. Was Sandip the ‘home’ because he revolted against Western culture and Nikhil the ‘world’ because he embraced it? Or was Sandip the ‘world’ because he emulated Western standards and always read Western books, while Nikhil was ‘home’ because he was the righteous Maharaja who stuck to his roots and his old Indian furniture and refused to change them just to impress foreigners? As I said, I think all this is above my level of reading.
- Marriage: I remember when I was 15, the movie “Unfaithful” came out. And I remember crying my eyes out. Poor Richard Gere! How could his wife do such a thing?! And I still feel this way. Marriage to me is a sacred thing. And yes of course sometimes it doesn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you should cheat or lie. End it, then move on. This is one reason I was so frustrated while reading this book. Bimala went from worshiping her husband, saying that her true place was at his feet, to being infatuated by Sandip and actually losing respect for her husband because he was level headed and not so rash. No human can possibly offer me, or tell me anything that will diminish my infatuation, love, and respect for my husband, and if I can, I will bend down and take the “dust off his feet.”
- Why?!? It was such a frustrating two weeks for me. We all got sick, one at a time. Why isn’t the fever going down even after giving the meds? Why is my son sick again after only three days of being ok from his first virus attack? Why does their school field trip that they’ve been waiting for have to be the day they have a fever and feel miserable? Then after their bedtime, I start reading my book and the ‘why’s’ start again. Why Bimala why? Why are you letting this guy break the strongest most sacred bond you have? Why Nikhil are you letting him do it, and allowing him to stay in your house? Why Sandip will you do this to your friend and your country just for selfish personal gains? Why?
Now that all the kids are better (its just me left with a fever), hopefully all the frustration is over.. Next book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Don’t know why but the name reminds me of the Solomon family from 3rd rock from the sun. We’ll see how it goes.