Mountain of the moon

I have run out of things to write about again. So I shall write about, well, books. One book to be exact. A book that I read at least once every year. And, sadly enough, the only book written in my mother-tongue which I have finished without being asked to.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Chander Pahar – or The Mountain of the Moon.

This book was a part of my school text book when I was in class four. And even though we never finished that book in the academic year, I read it at home just because it was fun. Also, the copy I had back then (and the ones I have bought after that) included illustrations after every 15-20 pages.

The novel was written by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee in the 1930’s. It talks about small town boy – Shankar’s journey from Bengal to Africa where he takes up the job of a station master. Here he meets Diego Alvarez – a Portuguese chap who has had a few adventures with his companion Jim Carter. However, Carter was killed by Bunyip – which to me at that age sounded like a African version of the Yeti. (Wikipedia, however, says it is a mythological monster dwelling in water bodies). Together, they go to re-discover the diamond mines and trek through the mountains of Richtersveld – overcoming things like hunger, wild animals, an active volcano, lost routes. Alvarez dies at the hands (or paws) of Bunyip and it is up to Shankar to find his way back home. He reaches a cave and has to use pebbles to mark his way out. It is only after he has left the mountain behind and is rescued, that he realises the ‘pebbles’ were the diamonds they have been looking for in the first place. The book ends with Shankar pledging to come back to find the diamond mine – his mountain of the moon.

It is amazing that this book was written with so much accuracy and based on facts, even though the author supposedly never ventured out of our country. And considering the fact that he was living in the 30’s, and manages to make the hearts race of any adventure seeking reader even today, he deserves special respect.

I saw recently that the book is available online in English as well. Maybe now I can make more people read this. You think?

http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Chander-trans-Bengali-Pradeep/dp/8125030697

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Sreetama says:

    Chander Pahar is undoubtedly one of my favourite books. We too had this book as a rapid reader in school. I enjoyed reading every line of it because of the vivid description & the suspense created . My favourite part is the description of Shankar’s encounter with the snake where he keeps holding the torch at its eyes and how frustrated he gets at the end to think about dropping it & resting his arm, without even caring if the snake would attack him or not! The saddest part was the of the other guy (forgetting his name)… Now you’ve triggered the wish in me to read it again.

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