Why does the protagonist try to fool the other passengers in "The Eyes Are Not Here" by Ruskin Bond?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Ruskin Bond, in his story "The Eyes Are Not Here," quietly portrays an encounter between two people: both blind.  Interestingly, neither realizes that the other cannot see.  The brief story takes place in a train compartment.

The blind man tells the story from his perspective.  When the girl comes into the compartment, the narrator decides to see if he can deceive the girl by pretending not to be blind. Challenged by this decision, he begins to ask her questions. 

Initially, the girl is surprised that someone else is in the car. The narrator thinks to himself:

Well, it often happens that people with good eyesight fail to see what is right in front of them.

Apparently, the man has not always been blind because as he looks out the window, he describes the scenes from his memories.  Engaging in light conversation, the girl responds to the man's inquiries.  Soon her trip is over, and she gathers up her things and leaves.  As she goes, she runs into the man who is entering the compartment.

Again, the blind man decides to try to fool the travel mate.  Both sit in silence for a while.  Finally, the new companion breaks the silence:

'You must be disappointed,' he said. 'I'm not as attractive a travelling companion as the one who just left.'

Forgetting his game of deception, the blind man inquires about the girl's hair.  Puzzled, the other man says that he did not notice her hair.  Her eyes, however, were beautiful.  The other man tells the narrator that it was unfortunate that she was blind.

Both of the blind people deceive the other. The games may come from the insecurity of the man and his new blindness.  He may also find it fun to challenge himself with the game of deception.  When playing his game, he did not pay enough attention to the words of the girl.  Intrigued by her perfume, her voice, and her presence--the man fools himself. Probably, if his curiosity had not gotten the best of him, he would have tricked his other fellow traveller.  However,  he could not resist knowing more about the girl. 

The ending of the story reminds the reader of the endings of O. Henry's stories. Bond too likes to play games with the reader.  Fooling the reader seems a special pleasure to the writer--and it makes for a fun read!


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