Rabindranath Tagore wrote He (Shey) to satisfy his nine-year-old granddaughter’s incessant demands for stories. Even as Tagore began to create his grand fantasy, he planned a story that had no end, and to keep the tales spinning he employed the help of ‘Shey’ (He), a ‘man constituted entirely of words’ and rather talented at concocting tall tales.
So we enter the delightful world of Shey’s extraordinary adventures. In it we encounter a bizarre cast of characters (the ganja-addict Patu whose body He inhabits after losing his own in a pond, a misdirected jackal who aspires to be human, the snuff-sniffing scientists of Hoonhau Island and the New Age poets of the Hoi! Hoi! Polloi Club dedicated to the cause of tunelessness); grotesque creatures like the Gandishandung and Bell-Ears; comic caricatures of contemporary figures and events, as well as mythological heroes and deities—all brought to life through a sparkling play of words and illustrations in Tagore’s unique style.
In this first-ever complete translation of Shey, including Tagore’s delightful nonsense verse, Aparna Chaudhuri brilliantly captures the spirit and flavour of the original.
He: Shey is translated by Aparna Chaudhuri and published by Penguin Books India.