I have always been interested in different lifestyles and different cultural practices across India. Of these, the Bengali household and their customs and cuisines have been topics of interest for me. When I got “Innocence has a name and other stories” I was so happy to have come close to a Bengali household. The author has introduced the readers to the indigenous lives of Bengalis.
The plot unveils the birth of Mithali, the daughter of Professor Debapratim Bhattacharya. Mithali’s character is the life of the whole book. The eponymous story also mentions how the innocence of Mithali has been exploited and the same makes her special. The story connects the readers with her at a personal level. Though the preceding stories about her childhood are also palpable, this story is what hooks the readers.
Though the book is an anthology the stories are snippets from the same household. Each story has a statement to make. Statements against gender discrimination, body shaming, color shaming, and more. The book makes us realize that irrespective of the place or creed, the judgments and some regressive thoughts of the society are just the same.
As I am intrigued to learn about a different culture, the close trip to Bengali culture is a take-home for me. Cuisines, cultural practices, and daily lives – I was enjoying the plot at several levels. On one hand, the storyline of each story was simply sweet and enjoyable. On the other hand, seeing the culture up-close. If you are going on a literature drive with deep philosophical preachings, this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for a read that is close to the earth and heartwarming, this is the one. It is a quick read over a coffee with 64 pages. Worth the time.