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Remembering Bengali writer Sirsho Bandopadhyay (1967-2021) with his novel ‘Tiger Woman

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Priyanath was sinking slowly into the quicksand. The deep yellow mass had the viscous consistency of mud.The dense, impenetrable sludge closed in on him, entering his nostrils, his mouth. Priyanath was choking. Suddenly the deep yellow began to change colour in some places to orange. An unusual coppery orange.

Priyanath tried to recollect where he had seen this particular shade before. But even before he could remember, he thought he could see what looked like black stripes on a tawny background, and was simultaneously overcome by a sharp, foul stench. It was a familiar smell. The raw odour of tiger urine. It wasn’t just in the jungle but also in its cage that the tiger sprayed its urine to lay stake to its territory.

Even in his benumbed state, Priyanath wanted to laugh, reminded of a strange habit of his own. Wherever he went with his troupe, he always urinated beneath the open sky after the last post of the main tent had been driven into the ground. It was Fatikchandra – mad Fatik – who had been the first to observe this peculiar practice of his. “So you’re staking your territory, Priyababu,” he had brayed one day.

The stripes appeared even clearer now against…

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