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‘ Deb returned to Calcutta, but to greater worldly burdens. One day, as he sat with his friend, he confided, “Having lost my father, I sought solitude. What I have got instead are never-ending duties and worldly commitments. There is a struggle going on inside me and I do not know who would win- the World or the Spirit.”
That night, Deb saw his departed mother in his dream, “Hast thou really become the One who knows Brahma? If so, sanctified is thine family, fulfilled is thine mother’s desire.”
Deb woke up to find all his worries gone and his mind feeling like a feather.
When Carr, Tagore and Company finally declared bankruptcy and with it the closure of all the businesses, Deb said to Sarada, “All our businesses and property have gone out of my hands. What I had prayed for has been granted and realised. As the moon gets freed from Rahu, so has my soul become free from the worries of the world and now feels the heaven of Brahman.”
Thus it was that the son of Prince Dwarkanath became Rishi Debendranath. The pearl necklace and the curse that accompanied it had come a full circle. It had journeyed from adorning Lord Krishna in Chandernagore to driving the scion of a business empire based in Kolkata to renounce everything and embrace spirituality.’
The above is an excerpt from the story ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly’ from the book of the same name. The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than one hundred and seventy excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
The book is dedicated to my father Late Debabrata Ghosal who gave wings to my imagination in my formative years.
I am conscious of the blessing that my eighty seven year old mother bestows on me daily which has enabled me to focus, ideate and pen what I have written.
I remain indebted to my wife Sanchita, without whose partnership and deep involvement, this book would not have come out in the present form. Not only has she been a sounding board for my creative thoughts, her suggestions relating to mid-course corrections in the plots have led to significant improvement of the final output that is in your hands today.
I am also beholden to my daughters Riya, Raka and my son-in-law Vibhu who provided the needed ‘readers point of view’ criticism of my writing at every stage. My daily interaction with my nearly two year old granddaughter Anaysha on WhatsApp video, has been a source of joy as I went about the onerous task of authorship.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings on Amazon and Goodreads.
Some months back, Sumant Chak of the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers ( Jamalpur cadre) , a transportation domain expert, was the winner of the Chronicler of the Hooghly contest.
As a winner he got a free copy of the book. After he completed reading, he sent me the following musings. I found it fascinating how some of the places and events in the book sparked off thoughts about his own experiences and perspectives. I am giving hereunder what he wrote.
I had been meaning to write to you for sometime as I finished reading your very readable stories.
I was particularly impressed by the first Ashtami and the last about the Chronicler. In Ashtami the characters were so well defined that they seemed to be people one knew. The details of the period were beautifully depicted and one felt so real like a play which was unfolding in front of one’s eyes on the stage of one’s imagination. It reflected the effort that must have gone into researching the times so as to bring it to life. Wonderful.
The piece de resistance was however the last story – The Chronicler of the Hooghly. It was the manner in which you were able to thread real life characters into the tale that showed the grip you have over your craft. It’s almost as if you were writing about the history of the region. Apart from that it struck a personal chord bringing back my own experiences of the river, the towns and also my time in Eastern Railway. In my first year at Jamalpur, I was asked by the GM’s wife to come to Calcutta and direct a play for the annual function of the Womens’ Association in Rabindra Bhawan. For some time I was bunking with a friend in Howrah Jute Mills almost just across the river from Fairlie Place and since I was seconded to the ER CME office for a month, I travelled daily to Fairlie via the ferry. Talking to people on it brought out a lot of tales regarding the various ghats and the ferry journey in the story was like reliving those days. I also used to travel by ferry whenever I came on work from Asansol to Fairlie Place when I was ADRM.
The other personal connection was mention of Chandernagore, a town I have never visited but read much about. I did my schooling till Inter in La Martiniere College, Lucknow, a school founded by Claude Martin with strong connections to the town. Claude Marting was a fascinating personality who started with the French India Company, switched sometime later to East India Company and finally befriended the Nawab of Oudh in Lucknow where he spent the rest of his life building some very important buildings including the La Martiniere College, a great piece of architecture. He apparently has some strong connection with Chandernagore to the extent that in his will he ordained that from the interest earned from his sizeable wealth, a certain amount would be given annually to pay the debts of the drunks of Chandernagore!!
Another connection was the necklace you mentioned. Apparently my paternal grandmother had a similar pearl necklace coveted by all with the hope that it would be given to one of them in her will.
It’s a wonderful book and I do hope you will pursue this interest as it is a gift not given to everybody. My best wishes are always with you and will look forward to more stories from your pen.
The book continues to make emotional waves around the world with more than a hundred and sixty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Instagrammer Bookish witch88 has reviewed the Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories as under:
My ratings: 4.6/5 Consisting of 4 short stories (Ashtami, Pandemic, Fault Lines, and The Chronicler of Hooghly) that span across cross generations, this book is a thought-provoking, enlightening as well as knowledgeable read.
What I liked about the book: -> All the stories compare a time in India (especially Kolkata) from pre-independence vs now, making us ponder whether things have really changed. -> The most striking feature of the book is how the author has let his creativity rewrite history. -> The writing holds the capacity to make a reader fall in love with old Calcutta. -> The stories are thought-provoking and represent various human nature/emotions. -> The distinct messages from each story: a) In Ashtami, our aversion as humans to differently-abled individuals. b) In Pandemic, the comparison between 1920 pandemic and 2020 pandemic. Also, how the lockdown brought us closer to our families. c) In Fault Lines, the karmic endings of our actions over time. d) In The Chronicler of Hooghly, how certain actions have their impacts felt over generations.
What I did not like about the book: -> Certain bits in some stories did not make much sense, as to why they were part of the story. -> In The Chronicler of Hooghly, the to and from between the past and present was a little complex to follow at times.
Quotable quotes: -> Just like we do not change even when we replace our old garments with new, so does the soul remain unchanged as it discards its worn-out body and takes birth in a new one. -> Tragedies happen to good people to make them stronger. . More via link in bio. 🔗 👆🏻 . QOTD : Which is favourite pre-independence story /book?
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with more than one hundred and sixty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads
Spanning a century between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development. What is their link spanning four generations which arises from an old and dilapidated palace and its massive Shiva linga?
Santosh Jami from Bengaluru writes……
” Amazing book, very easy read.
Honestly I am not much into books lately but when I read the preface and the first few pages, I could not put it down, especially the parts where historical facts were interwoven into stories is real magic. The narration of battle of Plassey, events surrounding fall of Bengal when mixed with the characters in the stories – all of them came alive.And the mix of history with contemporary events is beautiful.
The open ending where the Chronicler slowly fades away is really thought provoking and leaves the reader with self reflection and space for introspection in a very subtle way.
Overall, an excellent read.“
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with around one hundred and fifty excellent reviews and ratings on Amazon and Good Reads. Available on Amazon, Flipkart and leading bookstores.
“Ghosal impressively weaves history and imagination to blend fiction and reality, thereby providing a voice of the unrecorded, the myths and legends around what happened on the other side of known history…” Professor Gracy Samjetsabam, column author in Sunday Guardian Live and copy editor•
“……What truly grips the reader is this wonderful complexity of ‘a touch of the old Raj’ and the deep humanity of the pages that captivate.” Dr. Viraj P. Thacker, Author of ‘The Myth of Prosperity: Globalization and the South’, US•
“…. sensitive treatment of the characters battling these tragedies that enriches these tales.” The Telegraph
The book is available on Amazon ( paperback and kindle )and Flipkart (paperback). I am giving below Amazon India and US links for fast access.
A sunset cruise on the Hooghly which spins history and myth addictively across different dimensions. Across time as it takes the reader on a two and a half centuries journey. Across human failings and virtues of political intrigue, greed, betrayal, love and magnanimity.
The Chronicler of the Hooghly continues to make emotional waves worldwide with around one hundred and fifty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
Frank Marinko is a Leadership and Executive Coach and the Founder & Managing Partner of Empathinko. He resides in Melbourne, Australia.
Frank says this about the ‘Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’ :
‘Reading a Shakti Ghosal story is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. His stories are akin to the gossamer of a fine and delicate spiders web, subtle, alluring and surprisingly clever. The narrative expands with coherence and a subtle obliquity and yet as I read, the feeling is one of being comfortably lost in a vast and sumptuous tale of intrigue and mystery.
The way Shakti writes this story with grace and ease allows the reader to immerse themselves into the main character’s experience. One can easily become that character, plunged into the complexities of the circumstances as the story unfolds.’
The book continues to make emotional waves worldwide with close to a hundred and fifty excellent ratings and reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.