Noted Bengali writer Bani Basu’s 1990 novel “Swet Patharer Thala”, made into an award-winning film starring Aparna Sen, is now available in an English version. Regarded a classic of Bengali literature, the novel is one of the early texts to have talked about the agony, struggle, and liberation of the oriental woman.
“A Plate of White Marble” tells the tale of the ‘new woman’ of an era that just witnessed the independence of a nation. Bandana, the protagonist, though grieves over her husband Abhijit Bhattacharya’s early death, eventually stops conforming to the social connotation and ideals of widowhood, in a bid to save her son Abhirup. Abhirup cannot tolerate her mother in the attire of a widow. And psychologically, it hurts him to such an extent that, with the doctor’s advice, Bandana starts to wear colored saree with jewelry only for the sake of her son.
She dares to begin her life afresh in every possible sense, thanks to her uncle. But naturally, the road proves to be full of thorns as she gradually faces ridicule from many quarters of society. She leaves for her parental home with Abhirup and manages a job with the help of her husband’s friend. Abhirup learns painting from an artist named Sudipto Sarkar. One day she meets him. Gradually through different incidents, they come in close contact with each other.
Sudipto gradually proves to be the only person to get the pulse of a dying Bandana. He even sketches a series of paintings keeping her as the model, introspecting the inner dying cells of the introvert woman. Abhirup cannot accept this relationship and he is ready to leave her for that. At last, she leaves the concrete safe walls only to work for a far greater reason. She joins an orphanage project and thus liberates herself at last.