In the novel Down the Road Nonda Chatterjee recreates in vivid detail the values, morals and daily life of a class that was blindsided by the events of 1947. The anglicized Indian elite that served the British Raj as bureaucrats, lawyers, and career professionals faced a severe identity crisis after independence when their cosmopolitanism became suspect.
Chatterjee depicts the life of three generations across the time span of 1947 beginning with the redoubtable Judge, a morally ambiguous character who represents the best and worst of both feudal and British India. Unlike the Judge who functioned in British India with great impunity and freedom, his children, Ronnie, Bobby, Small and Madonna are both empowered and deformed by their complex heritage in a free India. The Judge's selfish and self-serving actions set the backdrop to the text as his children unravel the complexity of his legacy. The result is a gripping novel about a heinous crime that implicates an entire family, and the subsequent crimes that were committed in its wake to cover up the original sin.
In this psychologically taut novel, Chatterjee explores the ways in which one's selfhood is shaped by intimate family relationships, conversations, unspoken assumptions, and self-deception. She shows that actions rarely have their intended consequences, and that intentions both good and evil leave their deep traces in human affairs. By marrying a large historical canvas to the micro-politics of the Indian joint family, Chatterjee forces the reader to embark on a journey of ruthless introspection and honest self-analysis.
About the Author
Nonda Chatterjee, a much loved and widely respected educator, was born in Calcutta in 1938 and passed away in the city of her birth on 24th October, 2012. She spent most of her long and distinguished teaching career at The Calcutta International School where she served both as a teacher of English and history, and as Principal. She also served as the Principal of The Cambridge School, Kolkata. In 2006 she received 'The Cambridge University Inspirational Teacher Award', a distinction granted for the first time in India. Chatterjee subsequently received The Telegraph Award for 'Lifetime Achievement as a Teacher'.
Although Chatterjee started her literary career at the age of sixty-five, she was incredibly versatile and productive. She wrote novels, short stories, and poems and translated Bengali works of literature into English and Hindi. She contributed short stories and articles to The Statesman and The Sakaal Times, among other journals and periodicals. Her poems have been published on various platforms, including the journal, Indian Literature. She has to her credit a collection of short stories, The Strawberry Patch (Penguin, 2004), and a novel, Half a Face (Niyogi Books, 2010). Her graphic novel for children, The Old Man Who Would not Listen was published after her demise (Katha, 2013) as was her translation of Abanindranath Thakur's masterpiece, Thumbkin (Ponytale Books, 2013).