It was Achan who insisted that I read Gora. For some reason, I did not. Not for a very long time.Many gems of Bengali literature were serialised in the Mathrubhoomi weekly in the 80s and I was a regular reader. But somehow my reading of Tagore did not go beyond Geetanjali, Post Office, Choker Bali and a few others.
I stumbled upon Gora in the Just Books Library,Bangalore East and was reminded of my father’s advice that it is a must -read. Its a heavy book and my reading skills are not what it used to be. So I pick it up with some amount of hesitation. As I whiff through the pages, I realize that I am hooked. This is going to be an intense read. After the longest time, I rediscover the unrelenting reader in me, unable to keep the book down even when I am in the kitchen. I carry it to school to read it during my free lessons. Its a bulky read but worth every minute spent.
Gora is universal in its appeal because it addresses and raises some classic questions of struggles of nationality, identity, social equality, gender equations, regressive vs progressive mindsets etc. The narration is strong and vivid and brings to life the various characters like Anandmoyi, Gora, Sucharita, Gora’s father, Binoy in the readers minds.
Gora, one realises is not just a novel, its an experience. Its is a realistic glimpse into the tumultuous past of our nation.
The sheer scale and magnificence of the story line of Gora is breathtaking .It brings to you a nation caught in the turmoil of the struggle for freedom from the British, introspection about the Hindu ways of life, the oppression of the caste system, the rising assertion of women in public life, Brahmoism, nationalism vs jingoism, the rising impact of christian evangelism, Hindu- Muslim conflict and much more.
The plot revolves around Gora, the protagonist.He grows up in a brahmin household and embraces the rituals and rigours of Hinduism with zeal.Gifted with an impressive appearance and natural eloquence of speech, Gora acquires much clout and standing in the society.
The writer traces Gora’s changing mental landscape, his political and spiritual leanings, his relationship with women , his regard for Binoy and finally his coming terms to the shocking realization that he is not a Hindu but an Irish boy adopted by a Hindu mother.Using the many plots and sub plots the writer cleverly weaves the narrative, underlying the importance of looking beyond the divisions of caste,creed or nationality. The true message of Gora is that human beings are one in spite of the many inherent differences in them.