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Detective

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[This is only a feeble translation of a short story by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The objective is merely to exhort readers to read the original or better translations. The story has two narrators: The first part of the story is narrated by detective Mahimchandra, and the second part is narrated by a friend or a professional colleague - it could be Harimati (my personal opinion). It is a hilarious read although the outcome may have been anything but hilarious for Mahimchandra. Mahimchandra is a police detective, and aspires to earn fame in his profession. He craves for some complex case to come his way so that he can prove his worth. He notices a youth near his house. The youth's furtive manner arouses his suspicion. Obsessed as he is with finding a complicated case, Mahimchandra is convinced that he has been presented with one on a platter. The detective devotes his energies towards unravelling the youth's secret. He befriends the youth, and takes up residence in the same lodge as Manmoth. He discovers that Manmoth is a college student who has preferred to stay back in his lodge instead of returning home during the vacations. Mahimchandra even enlists the assistance of Harimati, a female colleague; Mahimchandra tells Manmoth that he is in love with Harimati. In the end it turns out that Manmoth and Mahimchandra's wife were childhood friends, and Manmoth still admires her. Well, all along while Mahimchandra had been spying upon Manmoth, the youth had been keeping a sharp eye on the detective and his alleged love affair. Manmoth's intention was to report everything to Mahimchandra's wife so that she could take steps to correct her "wayward" husband. Thus, Mahimchandra's "complicated case" produces complications in his own life. At the very beginning of his narrative, Mahimchandra tells the readers that there were only two prime concerns in his life: his wife and his job. Although the story does not tell what actually happened in the end, it would not be hard to guess that the detective must have had a lot of explaining to do to his wife; as regards his job, well, if he continued to pursue cases like this he couldn't have progressed far in his career.]

I am a police detective. There were only two prime concerns in my life - my wife and my profession. Earlier, I lived in a joint family. However, since my wife was not shown proper respect, I quarreled with my elder brother and took up separate accommodation. It was my brother who used to earn the bread for the family; it was, therefore, a rash act to abandon the comfortable shelter.

But I had immense confidence in myself. I was confident that just as I had managed to get myself a beautiful wife, I would be able to turn the wheels of fortune in my favour. Mahimchandra shall never remain lying at the bottom of the social order.

I joined the police department as an ordinary employee, and soon climbed up the rungs to become a detective.

Even the brightest flame leaves a dark patch; my wife's love for me was tinged with a degree of suspicion. My work required me to stay away from home, and this aroused suspicion in her mind. "You remain away from home, and it is only occasionally that we meet. Don't you feel anxious about me?" she would ask with a view to alarm me.

"Our profession entails that we be suspicious at all times. It is for this reason I do not bring it home," I would tell her.

I was determined to become the best detective. I had read all books on crime detection, and this only fueled a desire to accomplish something.

The criminals in our country are cowards and foolish; the crimes they commit are very straight-forward, and lack in ingenuity. The murderer is unable to suppress the strong emotions after committing a murder. The forger expands his network but gets trapped in his own web ultimately; he does not have a scheming mind. There is no fun in being a detective in such a country. It cannot bring you laurels.

I have easily apprehended gamblers and cheats on several occasions, and each time I have muttered to myself, "Pshaw! You fellows are a disgrace to the criminal class! You are all misfits! It is the job of talented masters to bring about the ruin of other people; you stupid fellows should have chosen to be ascetics!"

I used to picture the streets of London and Paris in my mind, and it thrilled me to imagine that along with the endless flow of people and beauty, a dark and sinister world of crime existed in parallel pursuing its own course underneath. In our own Kolkata, all that you can see in the homes are people engaged in household chores, cooking, children studying for an examination, groups assembled for a game of cards or chess, marital discords, or, at the most, disputes between brothers, and legal advice. Nothing more! When you look at any house, you never get an impression that at this very moment some fiend might be sitting in a corner of that house and planning his diabolical schemes.

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Some useful links for
your career:


  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu