Who was Ratan?

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Ratan is a simple, spontaneous, and innocent girl in Tagore's short story The Postmaster. A teenage orphan, she lives in the village of Ulapur, in Bengal. She does the household chores and keeps the postmaster company. She engages him in conversation and shares family stories.

The finely crafted narrative describes the emotional bond that Ratan develops for her master. While nursing him to health after an ailment, the naive girl assumes that she has become an integral part of his life. The myth shatters when all "Dada" offers her is money and recommendations.

Tagore does not define the relationship between Ratan and the postmaster, but the reader does get the impression of an unreciprocated affection. Ratan's loneliness and despair reflect the plight of many young, village girls in 19th century Bengal when it was common for girls to be married off by the age of ten years.

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