The story “The Eyes Are Not Here” by Ruskin Bond revolves around unfolding events in the compartment of a train during a particular journey. The story is narrated by the protagonist, a blind man, who is traveling to “Dehra, and then to Mussoorie.” A large part of the story is dedicated to a girl who enters the protagonist’s compartment in Rohana. Prior to this, the protagonist has had the compartment all to himself. Ironically, the protagonist thinks that the girl can see, yet she can’t, and vice versa.
When he talks to her for the first time, she is clearly startled by his voice, and remarks that “I didn’t know that anyone else was here.” Of course, she does not know that he is in the compartment because she cannot see him—she is blind. The protagonist is puzzled by her reaction, but thinks that perhaps she has not seen him because he is seated “in a dark corner” and that sometimes ‘people with good eyesight fail to see what is right in front of them as they have too much to take in.” He tells the girl that “I didn’t see you either, but I heard you come in.” This reply points to his disability, but only to an attentive listener.
It seems that the protagonist’s blindness is not as obvious as the girl’s. This is because the man who enters the compartment after the girl’s departure, himself is not aware that the protagonist is blind. He observes that the protagonist must not like losing the company of such an attractive girl, and states that she had the most beautiful eyes, only, they couldn’t see. He is surprised that the protagonist did not notice the girl’s blindness. Thus, the protagonist learns about the girl’s blindness from his new travel companion.
The story is entertaining and informative all at once. The reader is made aware of the importance of listening in effective communication.