The House With Five Courtyards

The House With Five Courtyards

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Book Specification

Item Code: NAC103
Author: Govind Mishra
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9780143064008
Pages: 274
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.0 inch X 5.0 inch
Weight 210 gm

Book Description

Back of the Book

Translated By Masooma ali

He as leaving behind the house which he no longer cared for but still felt in his blood. He’ll surely return but will the house then be as it is now? Will the people whose presence makes the house with five courtyards a veritable mohalla still be there?

For a sprawling edifice with five courtyards it was a flourishing house. The brothers who resided in the various quarters lived amma who was considered the head of the house after the death of her husband. Every guest be it a distant relative or a fond friend found refuge in the house musical soirees were held every other evening children flitted about neither caring where they ate or slept in the house nor differentiating between their uncles aunts and their parents. However when the eldest brother a successful lawyer gives up his practice to take part in the independence struggle his otherwise affluent household falls apart around him. Badi Amma who has held her sons and their families together also loses control as the family struggles to make ends meet. When her grandsons from her eldest son leave the house to make a life for themselves in the cities the collapse of her perfect world is complete.

A saga spun over three generations the house with five courtyard traces the breakdown of a joint family in Benaras Govind Mishra’s award winning novel is a sharp illustrations of a society veering away from the traditions and the past towards more materialistic present.

About the Author

I was witness to the agony caused to a friend when his elder brother and sister—in-law on a visit to Bombay did not stay in his house but in a hotel instead. He had considered them to be his mentors. The siblings grew up together, were given the same upbringing in their parental house with Eve courtyards at Benaras, now Varanasi. My friend’s agony went deep——that the vastness of the house with five courtyards had over the years shrunk so much that his elder brother and sister-in-law, whom he regarded equal to his parents, would not stay with him.

I shared my friend’s agony which lasted long after this incident. In course of the conversation that followed, the story of the house with Eve courtyards unfolded. The turmoil that Rajan feels when his brother and sister—in—law refuses to stay with him in the first chapter of the third part of the novel, “The Blind Alley`, is a reflection of my friend’s despair.

he barriers which gradually replaced the cohesiveness of the house with Eve courtyards were also related, albeit distantly, to what went on in the bigger canvas i.e. our country. As the ideals, mutual love and respect, the spirit of tolerance, element of sacrifice—all that guided our struggle for independence—evaporated, the best of the house with five courtyards also vanished simultaneously. The happenings at the top layers of a society, comes percolating down below.

What began as a story thus developed into a novel. The focus being on the events surrounding the lives of the protagonists, the political_ background of the period has been portrayed briefly rather only indicated. Else, covering the years from 1940 to 1990, would have led to novels within a novel. To avoid it, I have adopted the device of taking a time—gap in each part. ‘The Ground’ covers the period up to Independence, “The Walls’ till Emergency; ‘The Blind Alley’ is the aftermath.

In these times which are bereft of the beautiful a major satisfaction I while writing this novel was drawing out some admirable characters_ and the values they portrayed. Those qualities cannot even be imagined by the generation that followed. Very often I get nostalgic about men` and women I came across in my childhood, ordinary people with, extraordinary insights. Alas! That time, the political leaders, teachers and professors, everyday people, who inspired children by the conduct natural to them, are gone. The tribe appears to have vanished altogether.

It was a great pleasure to revisit those times to record them both the significance and the insignificant characters like Jogeshwari, Kamlabai Goverdhan. Naeeki Chachi and such odd and beautiful occurrences like the English headmaster, smith, caning Rajan for reciting a patriotic poem yet informing his father about his imminent arrest Chhotey each other and the prostitute kamlabai helping the family in their difficult days. These are things which give us the courage to bear out fate to live on.


The Ground (1940-1950) 1
The Walls (1960-1975) 91
The Blind Alley (1980-1990) 175
Author’s Note 271

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