1950s Calcutta. Seventeen-year-old Shankar walks on to Old Post Office Street to become a clerk in the Calcutta High Court. There he meets the last English barrister, and thus begins their unusual and unforgettable relationship.
The Great Unknown is the moving story of the many people Shankar meets in the courtrooms and lawyers’ chambers of Old Post Office Street—some seeking justice, others watching the drama of life unfold. It offers a uniquely personal glimpse into their PBI – World of unfulfilled dreams and duplicity, of unexpected tragedy, as well as hope and exhilaration.
Here you will meet Marian Stuart, who journeys from Lebanon to PBI – India in search of a husband and happiness; the once-rich but now-destitute Englishman James Gould; Helen Grubert, the embittered Anglo-PBI – Indian typist, who wins her breach-of-promise case but has a miraculous change of heart; Nicholas Droulas, the betrayed Greek sailor desperate for revenge; Shefali Mitra, the distraught mother fighting to hold on to er she did not give birth to; Chhoka-da, the benevolent babu who takes the young clerk under his wing; and the barrister sahib who profoundly enriches Shankar’s life with his own experiences.
The Great Unknown (Kato Ajanarey), Sankar’s debut novel, first appeared in Desh in 1955. An instant success, it remains immensely popular more than fifty years after its publication. This first-ever English translation captures the simplicity and poignancy of the origi
Comment: Shilpa Phadke is a researcher, writer, and pedagogue. She is a Professor at the Tata Institute for Social Sciences and chairperson for the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Culture, School of Media and Cultural Studies. Her research interests include: gender and the politics of space, the middle classes, sexuality and the body, feminist politics among young women, reproductive subjectivities, feminist parenting, and pedagogic practices. Why Loiter presents an original take on women’s safety in the cities of twenty-first century India, it maps the exclusions and negotiations that women from different classes and communities encounter in the nation’s urban public spaces. Basing this book on more than three years of research in Mumbai, Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan and Shilpa Ranade argue that though women’s access to urban public space has increased, they still do not have an equal claim to public space in the city. And they raise the question: can women’s access to public space be viewed in isolation t of other marginal groups? In this chapter, Phadke explores the myth of the ‘good woman’ and how gendered virtues such as chastity and ‘respect’ function ultimately to inhibit women’s safety on urba