In the short story "The Postmaster" by Rabindranath Tagore, a man from Calcutta comes to take up the position of postmaster in the small village of Ulapur. He is bored and lonely. His only companion is Ratan, an orphan girl who does odd jobs for him.
The postmaster asks Ratan about her family and tells her of his own family. Out of boredom, he begins to teach her to read. Although he longs for a companion, it doesn't occur to him, at least at first, that this low-caste orphan girl might be the answer to his need. The postmaster becomes ill, and Ratan nurses him back to health. He decides that he must leave the unhealthy village.
When the postmaster informs Ratan that he has resigned, she begs him to take her with him. He belittles her request, considering it impossible. Finally, at the end, as he is already leaving in the boat, he senses her grief and considers going back for the "lonesome waif." However, he does not act on this impulse and instead relies on "philosophical reflections" to justify his decision. Ultimately, then, there is no difference between the postmaster and the rest of the world that has forsaken this poor young girl. When confronted with the decision, the postmaster chooses to ignore Ratan's need and adhere to what society expects him to do. As Tagore states, "Alas for our foolish human nature! Its fond mistakes are persistent."