The characters are introduced one by one in a leisurely manner, and we meet among them a pretty girl, a wandering minstrel and a luxuriously mustachioed seth. Skilfully blending fable and reality it delves deep into the human mind.
The plot centres around a touchstone given to Meera by her sagacious grandfather. It is believed that the amulet would enable Meera to turn copper into gold, provided she acts kindly as a natural and spontaneous expression of herself.
‘Wearing it on your person, if you do an act of kindness, real kindness, then all copper on your body will turn to gold… parted from your arm, the touchstone will be dead, a worthless pebble.’
It is a hugely entertaining tale, yet it disturbs. It disturbs as a warning and as a prophecy.
Bhabani Bhattacharya (1906-1988), a distinguished novelist, cultural historian and political scientist, was born in Bhagalpur, Bihar, and received his Doctorate from London University. Starting his career with Mouchak in Bengali, he went on to write for The Manchester Guardian and The Spectator.
A writer of great sensitivity and an unequlled master in interpreting India, his works have been stranslated into 25 languages.