"Bonophul" (1899-1979)

Bonophul (literally meaning "The wild flower") was the pen-name of Bolai Chand Mukhopadhyay (1899-1979), a major literary figure in twentieth century Bengali literature. He was born in Purnia in Bihar, got his medical degree from Patna University, got into the medical profession and lived outside Bengal for the most part of his life.

Bonophul in Bhagalpur (1948)
His literary work is huge and varied. He wrote many novels, some of which like "Sthabar" and "Jangam" are considered as all-time classics. Many others, including "Hatey-bajare" and "Agnishwar", are very popular, and have been transformed into successful movies. He also wrote a good number of plays, including long and serious biographical ones like "Madhusudan" and short and amusing ones like "Kabayah". He authored numerous poems, mostly satirical and parodical in nature. But he is probably best remembered for his short stories and novellettes. His short novels like "Bhuban Shome" and "Chhadmabeshi" are simply hilarious and unputdownable. The two mentioned here were motion picture successes as well. And in short story, he created a style of his own. His stories were often very short in length and very simple in their plots, and often they have a pleasant humorous touch. In his memoir Rabindra-smriti about his visit to Santiniketan, Bonophul mentions that his short stories reminded Rabindranath Tagore of O'Henry and Chekhov (who Bonophul had not read at that time). Besides suggesting these two authors, Rabindranath also suggested that Bonophul draw from his direct experience as a physician in his future writings.

He won many prestigious literary awards, including Ananda Puroshkar, Rabindra Puroshkar and Jagattarini Puroshkar.

The photograph of Bonophul is by Manobeena Ray. We acknowledge Mr. Chirantan Mukhopadhyay and his family for the photograph and for giving us permission to publish the translations of Bonophul in Parabaas.

Published September 5, 2004

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