In the story 'The Postmaster' what impression does it have on my life.

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ssengupta eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question asks, "What impression does Tagore's "Post Master" have on "my" life. Well, I can't answer for you; but perhap I could try to say what impression Tagore's short story has had on my life! That's the best I can do.

The story begins with a young postmaster from Kolkata coming to small village called Ulapur, deep in rural East Bengal. By rural, I mean rural! City-bred that he was, he arrived in this village that had virtually nothing that a city has: no restaurants, coffee houses; no school or college; no library; indeed, no building even! The post office itself was a mud hut with a thatched roof; and his own living quarters, not much more.

Not only did he miss Kolkata bitterly, he also missed his own family: mother, younger sister and brother. So he spent his time as the Ulapur Postmaster, working at whatever little postal work that came to him. Most of the time he read and wrote poetry. He did not mix much; there was no one to mix with. Tagore writes: "...[the villagers of Ulapur] were not suitable company for an educated man. Or, rather, his Calcutta background made him a bd mixer."

The inevitable happens. The young postmaster gets exceedingly sick with malaria and when he recovers, he has been dreadfully weakened by the desease.

All during his stay in Ulapur, he had a maid, a young girl of about twelve or thirteen, named Ratan (which means jewel) The two develop a very, sweet sibling-type relationship. The girl serves him hand-and-foot. He teaches her how to read. When malaria grips him, however, and he recovers, he leaves Ulapur, leaving the little girl heart broken and in despair.

The last part of the story is very, very touching. The young postmaster is traveling in a boat, watching Ulapur retreat away from him. He can see the dead bodies being cremated, burning in a distance. The postmaster thinks of Ratan, the servant girl and, momentarily, wants to return to her. "But," he muses, "Wht's the point! Who belongs to whom." He never sees Ratan again.

"The Postmaster" written and published in 1891, is a story about separation, relationships and dependency, three cncepts that perhaps all of us have experienced.

SEPARATION: The young postmaster, upon coming to the village, experiences separation from his family. As he befriends Ratan, he learns that everybody in Ratan's family has died of cholera. Finally, after a brief brother-sister relationship, he separates from Ratan.

RELATIONSHIP: The slow development of Ratan and the postmaster's relationship is at first sweet, then bitter-sweet. He teaches her how to read; she perhaps saves his life by taking care of him literally round the clock, abandoning food or sleep. The postmaster becomes a demigod for Ratan.

DEPENDENCY: Finally, the story is a quietly sombre and philosophical criticism of dependency. It is a typically Hindu position to take --"Don't get attached to anybody or anything!" Everything is Maya, illusion. Imagistically, as the boat sails away into the horizon, toward Kolkata, and the postmaster is suddenly gripped with the desire to return to his little girl, his eyes drift toward the river bank, now far away, and sees dead bodies burning. Yes, life ends; relationships end; that is reality. He cannot return; he has to go on.

But the little girl? She has no such philosophy with which to console her!

My life, too, has been full of relationships, separation and dependency. I know that one day it will all end.