Many iconic artistes have sought their inspiration in women and took the fairer sex for their muses -- Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore was no exception.
In Aruna Chakravarti's semi-fictional "Daughters of Jorasanko", it is evident that the poet's life wouldn't have panned out the way it did, had it not been for the women in it.
After sketching the history of the Tagore family in "Jorasanko", Chakravarti's latest takes the narrative forward to redeem Rabindranath in particular, and the Tagore household in general, of their sins of patriarchy.
"The Tagore household, though somewhat more educated and liberal, was no different from others of the time, in its attitude to women, under the stewardship of the formidable Maharshi Debendranath Tagore," Chakravarti told PTI.
Yielding to the rules set forth by the Maharshi dictating the conduct of the women of the house, Rabindranath had married his daughters off at the ages of ten and thirteen and also prevented the remarriage of the 15-year-old widow Shahana.
However, towards his later years, the writer strived to put things right by marrying his only son to a widow, taking away his youngest daughter from an insensitive husband and allowing his granddaughter to marry a Sindhi.
"He suffers acute pangs of conscience in his later years and strives to set it at rest by atoning for it in his own ways," says Chakravarti.
The book is titled after the 'daughters' of the family, but what it really captures is the journey of the poet's spiritual transformation -- "from a male psyche exhibiting stereotyped patriarchal attitudes, to one acutely sensitive to the subordinate status of women and the agony of suppression they go through".
The bestselling writer has dug through archival material and books on the Tagores and strung the facts together with "creative imagination" to make the narrative flow.
She has revived the tongue of 19th century Bengal in modern day English and interspersed it with Bengali phrases and kinship terms to recreate the milieu of the period.
"There are no fictional characters in my book, barring a few, who are entirely peripheral. There are no external plotlines either. The main events are based on recorded fact.
"The fictional element lies in the stringing together of these facts... to portray moods, gestures, thoughts, dreams and aspirations of historically documented characters as well as the clothes they wear, the spaces they occupy in body and mind; the way they speak; the food they eat," she says.