Smrutichitre – Not a book review

I read a lot of books but I rarely review them. Sometimes a book touches me so much that I am compelled to write something about it.

I came across Smrutichitre via a fellow book lover’s Insta feed. It is a memoir of Laxmibai Tilak (not to be confused with any relative of Lokmanya Tilak). I remembered we had a chapter in Marathi textbook, where she adopts a poor girl (she thinks she is an orphan but actually her parents sell her off to get some relief from their poverty) I had to read the book and it was available in the e-book format from BookGanga¬†(The quality of ebook is not so good and also Kindle has spoiled us to expect user friendly reading) Coming back to the memoirs, Laxmibai Tilak was the wife of Narayanrao Wamanrao Tilak, who had converted to Christianity. The reasons for conversion are never explained but one of the reasons could be the caste discrimination. Tilak was a Hindu Brahmin and I think he did not like the way Shudras were treated. Another reason being he actually fell for the charms of Jesus courtesy the missionaries he came across during his travels.

Laxmibai Tilak stayed apart from her husband for years post his conversion. However, inspite of their marriage being arranged, the love between them was so strong and true, they reunited and Laxmibai herself converted to Christianity. They both dedicated their life to serving the poor and needy.

The most fascinating thing about the memoirs is that it covers the period between  1860 to 1920. This was the period where the freedom struggle had started (though there is hardly any mention about it in the memoirs) It is interesting to know the customs that prevailed during those times, the struggle people faced while travelling even a short distance, within Maharashtra, the poverty which made people take drastic steps, like selling / abandoning their children, the drought, the plague, so on and so forth!

Even though Laxmibai was not much educated (whatever she learnt was due to her husband’s influence) she has done a good job in penning down this book. It is written straight from the heart. It does get tedious and monotonous at times.

If you can understand Marathi, I would recommend you to read this in the original format, to get the flavour of the language that was prevalent then. Otherwise you can go for the English translation.