In Rabindranath Tagore's short story “The Postmaster,” Ratan is the postmaster's servant. She is merely an orphan girl, but she cooks his meals, draws water for him, and nurses him when he is sick. She also provides company for the postmaster, a person to talk to in the midst of his loneliness and isolation in the small village of Ulapur, where no one has the time or inclination to be particularly friendly toward him. Ratan listens to his stories, gets to know his life and family well, and provides him with some stories of her own. To fill his spare time, the postmaster even begins to teach Ratan how to read.
Overall, Ratan becomes a companion and caretaker (both physically and emotionally) to the postmaster. Unfortunately, however, he does not completely realize what a good friend she has been to him. He even wishes for “some kindred soul ... just one loving human being whom I could hold near my heart,” not realizing that one is right in front of him.
For Ratan's part, the postmaster becomes her whole world. She has lost her parents and brother quite a while before, and she is all alone. No one in the village seems to pay much attention to her or care what happens to her. So when the postmaster extends a friendly hand, Ratan is quick to grasp it. She throws herself into serving him, talking to him, listening to him, and learning from him. When the postmaster becomes ill, she even steps into the role of motherly nurse.
It is no wonder, then, that when the postmaster withdraws from Ratan, she is confused and hurt. When he calls her name again, she jumps up with hope, but the news he shares is the worst thing that could happen in Ratan's eyes. The postmaster is going away. Ratan is stunned speechless, and then she finally dares to ask if he will take her with him. The postmaster merely laughs, which hurts Ratan more. She holds on to hope as long as she can, but when it becomes clear that the postmaster really will leave her behind, she bursts into tears. Ratan does not want his money; she wants him. He has become a father to her, and now he is leaving, and her world falls apart once again.