Category Archives: Chorabali

Byomkesh Quiz 3- Chorabali (চোরাবালি)

This is the third part of a series of trivia quizzes on Byomkesh Bakshi. This quiz is based on the story, Chorabali. If you’ve read the book or seen the television episode, then you should have no trouble answering these questions.

Questions:

*1. Which character in Chorabali had the amazing gift of being able to imitate animal noises?

*2. At the beginning of Chorabali, Byomkesh and Ajit are on a hunting expedition. Their host was introduced in an earlier story. Can you name him and the story?

3. What geographical discovery did Byomkesh explicitly tell Ajit to keep secret from everyone else?

4. Byomkesh leaves Ajit to visit the nearest town for part of a day. What does he do there?

5. What does Byomkesh learn about the night that Harinath disappeared from an almanac (পাঁজি)?

Answers:

*1. Kaligati Bhattacharya

*2. Kumar Tridib, first introduced in Seemanto-heera (সীমন্ত-হীরা)

3. The discovery of the chorabali (চোরাবালি) or quicksand pit on Himangshubabu’s property.

4. Two things- he stalks out Anadi Sarkar’s widowed daughter, Radha, and he visits the government registry office or office of records.

5. That night was a new moon (অমাবস্যা).

*Questions similar to the ones marked with an asterisk were also asked in BBC Mastermind India, 2000.

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Byomkesh: “What happened flashes in front of my eyes like a movie”

By the time Saradindu Bandyopadhyay has Byomkesh Bakshi mention these words in Chorabali, he has already solved the mystery of the disappearance of Harinath, teacher to the daughter of Himangshubabu. Saradindu does not deceive the reader by hiding details or springing surprises at the end of the story. Every single clue that Byomkesh uses to solve this fascinating case is presented with integrity and honesty to the reader. Saradindu even provides extra clues through Ajit. And when the reader is near the end of the story when Byomkesh reveals the sinister and sad chain of events at the Chorabali Estate, readers can analyze their own powers of deduction and find out how much of the story (from 0% to 100%) they could figure out from the clues themselves.

As mentioned, the story nominally deals with the disappearance of Harinath, a poor teacher to Baby, the daughter of Himangshubabu who is the zamindar of Chorabali, an estate named for the quicksand within its confines. Within this story is the subtext of the estate which has fallen on hard-days and moral dilemmas facing the main characters in the story. That is the main thread of the story, but Chorabali works on so many levels – social, moral, psychological, and legal that books can be written about the themes in this story itself!

I was extremely thrilled by the controversial resolution of the plot. The first time I read the story, I was able to pick up on many of the clues so I had a fairly strong idea of what I thought had happened and why. However, I knew that there was little by way which Byomkesh could actually prove some of these occurrences beyond doubt in a court of law. But Byomkesh takes a thrilling stand by not bending to the law. I was able to understand what was going on in his head as I read the last few pages of the story, but I was amazed with the clarity with which Saradindu presents an ethical dilemma. Do you let a criminal get away just because you cannot prove he is guilty? Do you stop the chain of events or do you script them so that he gets “what he deserves”?

These are provocative questions that very few detective stories address adequately, but the genius of Saradindu is that he does not dance around them. Chorabali is a type of story that will make you sit up, even if you know what is about to happen

As you may have guessed by now, Chorabali, is one of my favorite detective stories in any language. Personally, the story appeals to the rational scientist in me, who is not as impressed by literary  showmanship as much as he is by an extremely well-crafted, logical story. And Chorabali gets full-marks on both accounts!

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