The Postmaster Questions and Answers
by Rabindranath Tagore

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In Tagore's "The Postmaster," how does Ratan feel and react when the postmaster says that he will leave the village?

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In Rabindranath Tagore's story "The Postmaster," Ratan takes care of the little town's postmaster.

Ratan, an orphan girl of the village...did odd jobs for him.

Ratan is very upset to hear that the postmaster is leaving. Though this young girl has served him and even cared for him while he was so sick, he waits until the day before his departure to tell her that he is returning to his home in Calcutta.

Ratan asks two questions: where is he going and when will he return? He informs her that he will leave the next day and will not be returning. She says no more but goes to prepare his meal. When she is finished making his dinner, she asks if he would take her to his new home. Without thought to his callous response, he says:

What an idea!

The concept of such a thing, for the postmaster, is absurd—though he does not take the time to explain it to her.

Ratan sleeps that night, "haunted" by the postmaster's response. Still, the next day she gets up early and draws many containers of water for his bath. The reader learns that the postmaster has often spoken harshly to her, but Ratan still cares deeply for this man she calls "Dada." When he offers to speak to the next postmaster on her behalf so the new man will take care of her (and believing that he is showing her a kindness), Ratan becomes deeply distressed:

No, no, you need not tell anybody anything at all about me; I don't want to stay on here.

The postmaster has no sense of how deeply she is hurt, so he cannot understand her behavior.

Just as the postmaster is ready to leave, he tries to give Ratan part of his monthly salary so she can take care of herself for a time, but she will not take it:

"Oh, Dada, I pray you, don't give me anything, don't in any way trouble about me," and then she ran away out of sight.

Even after he has left, Ratan walks around the postoffice, overcome by tears, hoping somehow that the postmaster will one day return to her. The narrator points out that this will never happen.

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