The Postmaster by Rabindranath Tagore

The Postmaster

Title: The Postmaster

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Published: 1914

Genre: Short Story

Setting: A remote village in Bengal, India

Main Characters: The Postmaster, Ratan, The Sub-Postmaster, The Doctor

Themes: Loneliness, Love, Illusion, Reality, Innocence, and Life’s Uncertainty

Synopsis: The story revolves around a postmaster who is posted to a remote village in Bengal. He becomes lonely and finds solace in the company of a young orphan girl named Ratan, who works as his house help. He teaches her to read and write, and they share a special bond. However, the postmaster’s loneliness becomes unbearable, and he decides to leave the village, much to Ratan’s dismay. The story ends with a heartbreaking realization by both the postmaster and Ratan about the reality of their relationship.

Significance: The Postmaster is considered one of Tagore’s best short stories, known for its simple yet powerful portrayal of human emotions and relationships. It delves into themes such as loneliness, love, illusion, reality, innocence, and life’s uncertainty, and has been celebrated for its timeless and universal appeal.

“The Postmaster” is a short story written by Rabindranath Tagore. It is a poignant tale that reflects on the themes of isolation, human connection, and cultural differences. The story revolves around the protagonist, a young postmaster who is transferred from Calcutta to a remote village in rural Bengal. The postmaster feels lost and disconnected in this unfamiliar place, but eventually forms a bond with a young girl named Ratan, who works as his servant.

The postmaster is a man of education and refinement, unaccustomed to the harshness and simplicity of rural life. He misses his home, his friends, and his life in the city. The only solace he finds is in reading letters from his family and friends, and in writing letters of his own. He is a man who loves literature and poetry, and he spends much of his time reading and writing.

Ratan, on the other hand, is a young girl who has grown up in the village. She is simple, innocent, and uneducated, but has a kind heart and a natural curiosity. She takes care of the postmaster’s household, cooking his meals, cleaning his home, and running errands for him. Initially, the postmaster is aloof and dismissive of Ratan, seeing her only as a servant. But as time goes by, he begins to appreciate her simplicity, her sincerity, and her devotion to him.

The postmaster and Ratan form an unlikely bond. He teaches her how to read and write, and she becomes his assistant, helping him with his work. They spend long hours together, talking and laughing, sharing stories and experiences. The postmaster starts to see Ratan as more than just a servant; he sees her as a friend, a confidante, and a companion.

However, the postmaster’s time in the village is limited. He is only there for a short period, and must return to his life in the city. He has no choice but to leave Ratan behind, knowing that he may never see her again. The story ends on a bittersweet note, with the postmaster returning to the city, feeling a sense of loss and regret.

Through “The Postmaster,” Tagore explores the themes of cultural differences, isolation, and the importance of human connection. The postmaster represents the outsider, the educated man who is removed from the simple life of the village. He feels isolated and alone, unable to connect with the people around him. However, through his relationship with Ratan, he learns to appreciate the beauty of the simple life, and the value of human connection.

Ratan, on the other hand, represents the innocent and uneducated girl who is curious about the world around her. She has lived her entire life in the village, and has never known anything else. However, through her relationship with the postmaster, she learns about literature, poetry, and the wider world outside of the village. She is a reminder that there is beauty in simplicity, and that sometimes, the most profound connections can be made with the most unlikely people.

Overall, “The Postmaster” is a poignant and insightful story that reflects on the complexities of human relationships, the importance of cultural understanding, and the power of human connection. It is a timeless tale that continues to resonate with readers today, and is a testament to Tagore’s skill as a writer and his deep understanding of human nature.