Pratibaddha by Diamond Sumsher
Pratibaddha is a social novel by Diamond Sumsher. It deals with the helpless condition of the poor under the oppression of the rich and powerful. Also the time when the Nepalese, even the educated ones were blinded by superstitions is presented through the life struggle of a middleclass girl Rupadevi.
Pratibaddha is the story of the suffering and problems the girl had to experience because of other’s selfish nature. She always became the victim of other’s desire and greed. The beautiful girl is desired by a Mahatma, who is considered as God by the locals but who actually is a corrupt smuggler. He is believed to have special powers that can cure any illness or misery. Believing it to be true, Rupadevi’s parents who are teachers in the local school comes to him with their problem.
They doubt their daughter being a homosexual and request him to cure her. The Mahatma got an opportunity to fulfill his lustful desires. He organizes a Yagya and invites everyone. He tries to seduce her but she luckily escapes. While one the run, she meets the love of her life Dilip. They spend the night together and early morning, Rupadevi returns home taking what she believes to be a toy from Dilip. It, however, is a hand bomb that Dilip, now a rebel and revolutionary, brought to kill the minister with. Unknown with this truth, she gives the bomb to her siblings to play but unfortunately, it blasts causing the loss of her parents and many school children. Dilip who never knew what happened to the bomb, is accused for the blast and is jailed. Rupadevi is taken to Banaras in India to dispense her parents’ ashes at the holy river Ganges.
She comes to know about the Mahatma’s lustful desire for bringing her there and she escapes from his place. She is taken in by an old woman where she is offered food and shelter for few days. The old woman, however, promising her to providing a new job, takes her to a brothel and sells her. She pleads to the owner to spare her from the sinful deeds and later agrees to present a musical performance for the customers’ entertainment instead.
She finds a friend there, Gulab, who is from Nepal as well. One day, she sends Gulab to find out the whereabouts of her siblings and Dilip from a Nepali Minister who is on a visit to Banaras. But Gulab ends up taking her name and getting engaged to the Minister. She promises to adopt Rupadevi’s child she had with Dilip and makes her promise she will never say a word of it to anyone else. Rupadevi happily agrees to it and the duplicate Rupadevi marries the Minister and return back to Nepal. As it is said that the truth cannot stay hidden for long, the Rupadevi in Nepal faces a lot of troubles and does many crimes and deceptions in order to keep her cover from blowing up. Also the real Rupadevi returns back to Nepal with a new name and identity. What follows next is the series of confusion, deception and efforts made by the duplicate Rupadevi to protect her cover and a General to find out the truth.
The novel is interesting and well presented as all the novels by Diamond Sumsher are. The language is simple and well managed. The conversations reflect the dialects practiced during that time. He has connected the life of the protagonists and the political situations of the country very well. The novel has expressed how the common poor people were used as a toy by the rich and powerful for their pleasure and greed. Pratibaddha explains how dreadful and miserable the life of a person could be when they become the victim of the selfish rich and powerful.