Book Review #35: Godhuli-The Golden Dusk

Name: Godhuli-The Golden Dusk

Author: Harihar Panda
No. of Pages: 186
Genre: Non-Fiction/Social History/Memoir
Publisher: Platinum Press (An Imprint of Leadstart Publishing)
Price: Rs. 399/-
Published in: 2015
The blurb of the book says:
It was the most turbulent period in Indian history. The sonorous slogan, Simon, go back! reverberated through the political corridors of a rising nation. The historic Dandi March had its soulful impact on millions of common people as Mahatma Gandhi gave the clarion call to ‘Do or die’. But even as India achieved her blood-soaked independence, there were already signs of a popular uprising in the country against the tyranny of the zamindars. There were widespread rumours that the new government would confiscate the zamindari estates and distribute the land among the tenants and the landless. Villagers everywhere were elated at the imminent prospect of owning their own land. Those who had never before uttered a word of protest against their landlords, began to act with defiance and disregard. The mighty zamindari citadel was crumbling. All the king’s men had gone, leaving the abandoned King distraught and forlorn, victim of a changing world order…

My father, who had tolerated with exemplary fortitude a series of personal calamities, could not bear the ignominious loss of dignity, the thing he valued most in life. Independence without honour was a meaningless platitude for him. It was indeed a painful transition from wealth and aristocracy to democracy and equality. The unthinkable fall from mastery and power of the zamindars, was an event that shook the very foundations of the century-old socio-economic system of newly independent India. Written with elegance, the narrative captures with depth and grace an era which now lives only in history and in the minds of a remaining few who lived through those momentous times.

Harihar Panda was born in 1932, into a traditional landlord’s family of Orissa (present-day Odisha). He joined the Civil Service after completing his post-graduate studies and gaining a degree in Law. During his term with the Civil Service, he successfully undertook varied judicial and administrative assignments. Post-retirement, he taught at the University Law College, Bhubaneswar, specializing in Constitutional and Administrative Laws. He has also served as Chief Executive of a literary journal. His abiding love of literature has richly endowed his life and he continues to read and write into his eighties. Harihar Panda can be reached at:
Cover: It depicts a haveli (big mansion) representing a bygone era. I love the look of the book; it is hardcover and has a ribbon bookmark as well.
Writing: The writing style is simple; at many places it seems like a verbal narration of events which has been directly written down.
Plot: The author as born and brought up in the pre-independence era of our country. He was born into a zamindar’s family and was the heir apparent. He is sharing his stories from his childhood and growing up years which gives the reader a glimpse into the lives, culture and history of that time in the author’s domicile. He narrates as if he is narrating his life stories verbally to someone.

When the publisher sent me a list of books to choose from to review, I picked up this book for its name. I am from the Indian State of Assam, and in Assamese language ‘Godhuli’ means dusk as well. The author is from the state of Odisha, whose culture and language ia very similar to that of Assam as well as West Bengal. So many things mentioned in the book are actually familiar to me like women ululating during auspicious rituals, celebration of Durga Puja, mythological night opera, musical instruments and the like.

I give “Godhuli-The Golden Dusk” 3 stars on a scale of 5.

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