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'Anne Frank's Diary' and 'Bhutiya': Shades of similarity
'Anne Frank's Diary' chronicled her life from June 12, 1942 until August 1,1944. It has been translated from the original Dutch into many languages. Its Indian counterpart 'Bhutiya' deserves the same attention.
‘ANNE FRANK’S Diary’ and Rituparna Bhattacharjee’s ‘Bhutiya’ both reveal the feelings of a child protagonist. They chronicle the thoughts and feelings of a young sensitive mind which bleeds under the pressure of dismal surroundings. While Anne described her tortured sensitivity as a child, Rituparna also in her stories of ‘Bhutiya’ portrays a down –to –earth reality through snapshots of poverty, criminality, and selfishness.
With a maturity rare even in grown ups, Rituparna no less in the manner of Anne Frank showed her awareness of the tragedy of life at the age of 11. Her book should be translated in English for the reading of teenagers in larger numbers. Like ‘Anne Frank’s Diary’ the book can be expected to enjoy a large readership. The wonderful literary talent of Rituparna Bhattacharjee is revealed in ’Bhutiya’ which contains 17 unforgettable short stories that veer round the tragedy and comedy of our daily lives.
The stories were written during her childhood when she was a student of Christ Church School, Kolkata reading in Class IV and V.
Rituparna penned her childhood experiences in magical detail and intensive colours of imagination. The overlying stress on reality creates nearly a tactile sensation.
The people young and old whom Rituparna describes are all familiar faces – the parents, aunts, or schoolmates, are people we recognize from our own lives.

The first of the stories, 'Mrityunjoy'(Conquest of Death), which got the second prize in the Suktara short story contest, deals with the invention of medicine for curing cancer. Dr. Sen in this story experiments the medicine on a dog that gets saved from certain death. But Dr. Sen himself dies of the stress and exhaustion of the research that went into the invention of the drug. Many critics and reviewers have thought that Rituparna has mused too much on death. But I read this story is a positive one. It shows a journey from darkness of despair to light.
Another story 'Babar Upahar' (Gift of a Father) tells us how a teenage girl experienced the tragedy of her father’s accident and death during her end board exams. She stands first, fulfilling her late father’s dream.

The narrative art of Rituparna reaches the height of maturity in the story ‘Trijama’ in which the baby girl Tiku (Trijama) grows up with a tragic experience of her elderly friend Akash dying of brain cancer and later when she herself sacrifices her kidney for Jhim, an aunt she dearly loves. This same aunt fails to support her during her own ailment. She dies a tragic death.
All these stories show an abundance of grief. But Rituparna’s easy grace of narration and diction of make us forget the sadness associated with the tragic stories. A child suffering the torments of life or watching its cruelties, selfishness, sickness can show no predilection for fairies or angels of the ethereal world. Like ‘Anne Frank’s Diary,’ ‘Bhutiya’ in some ways may also be called the ‘Diary of a Young Girl.’
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