it rained all night
translated by clinton b. seely
PENGUIN BOOKS IT RAINED ALL NIGHT
Buddhadeva Bose (1908-74) was one of the most versatile Bengali writers of the twentieth century. Editor-publisher of the revolutionary poetry magazine Kavita, he was a lecturer at various colleges in India and abroad and set up the department of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, Kolkata.
The author of over 200 titles, his works include the novels Tithidore and Moner Moto Meye, the collections of poems Damoyanti and Morche Pora Pereker Gan and the short-story collection Bhashao Amar Bhela.
Bose received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1967 for his verse play Tapaswi o Tarangini, was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1970 and posthumously received the Rabindra Puraskar in 1974 for Swagato Biday.
Clinton B. Seely is a prominent scholar of the Bengali language and literature. He is Emeritus Professor of Bengali at the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.
He has written a biography of the Bengali poet Jibanananda Das and has translated Michael Madhusudan Dutt's Meghnadbadh Kavya into English. His other works include Barisal and Beyond: Essays on Bangla Literature, Grace and Mercy in Her Wild Hair: Selected Poems to the Mother Goddess and the edited volumes, Women, Politics, and Literature in Bengal and Bengal Studies: A Collection of Essays.
Seely has received, among several other academic and literary awards, the 'Ashoke Kumar Sarkar Memorial' Ananda Prize in 1993 and the Dinesh Chandra Sen Research Society's '4th Annual Award for Excellence in Research in Bengali Literature' in 1999.
it rained all night
translated from the bengali by clinton b. seely
That my name, and my name alone, appears on the title page as the translator is somewhat misleading. I worked closely, though at a long distance, with the author himself. He was in Kolkata at that time; I in Chicago. I have written an account of that epistolary back-and-forth in an article, 'Translating Rat Bhore Brishti: Reliving through Letters', part of a special Buddhadeva Bose issue of the journal Boidagdha (May 1999), guest edited by his younger daughter, Damayanti Basu Singh, known to her family and close friends as Rumi. Buddhadeva's letters to me with respect to the translation spanned the years 1971-73. The very next year, quite unexpectedly, he died at home, then only in his mid-sixties. During 1969 and much of 1970, I lived in Kolkata. It was Buddhadeva's home in south Kolkata that became my home away from home. His wife, Protiva Bose, herself a well-known fiction writer, welcomed me warmly, as did both their sons, Pappa, my coeval, and their two married daughters, Rumi and her elder sister, Mimi. Mimi's husband, Jyotirmoy Datta, had been one of my inspiring teachers while in graduate school at the University of Chicago. It was during my nearly two-year academic research sojourn in Kolkata, a time of considerable political unrest there, that a ne'er-do-well, self-styled mastan or neighborhood tough, brought a court case against Buddhadeva and this particular novel, It Rained All Night, on the grounds that it was obscene. I had returned to Chicago by the time the verdict came down—a conviction. Jyoti wrote about it in the Evergreen Review (July 1971): 'The Bengali poet Buddhadeva Bose was convicted on December 19, 1970 of obscenity . . . The trying judge not only heaped indignity after indignity upon the sixty-three-year-old writer—such as making him stand in a wire cage, ordering a search for the confiscation and destruction of all copies of his printed book, and destruction of the manuscript— but also refused him leave to appeal. Bose's book has been banned and his life is in danger.' This particular chapter of Buddhadeva's life story had a satisfyingly happy ending. The conviction, upon appeal, was overturned in Kolkata's High Court. From a much grander perspective and more importantly, during the gala public celebration of his 100th birthday at the end of November 2008, in recognition of a lifetime of literary achievement by one of India's finest writers, first and foremost in Bangla but also in English, the Government of India issued a Buddhadeva Bose commemorative 500p postage stamp. I had the honour and considerable good fortune to have known this man and, specifically with respect to the translation of It Rained All Night, to have worked with him. No less appreciated, I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the very nurturing support of his entire family.
Clinton B. Seely
'It's over—it happened—there's nothing more to say. I, Maloti Mukherji, someone's wife, and someone's mother—I did it. Did it with Jayanto. Jayanto wanted me, and I him . . . How did it happen? Easy. In fact I don't know why it didn't happen before—I'm surprised at my self-restraint, at Jayanto's patience.'
Banned when it was first published in the Bengali in 1967 on charges of obscenity, It Rained All Nightwent on to become a best-seller.
Maloti, an attractive middle-class Bengali girl, marries the bookish college lecturer Nayonangshu only to find him indecure, sexually timid and unable to satisfy her. She discovers passion in the arms of the confident, earthy journalist Jayanto whose love provides her solace from the demands of her wifely duries. Maloti and Jayanto's growing intimacy does not go unnoticed by Nayomamgshu, but his pride restrains him from reaching out to his wife.