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Eventually, after about a week, she was summoned inside one evening. With a thankful heart Ratan entered and asked, "What O' Dadababu, you called?"
The postmaster said, "Ratan, I am leaving tomorrow."
Ratan: Where are you going, Dadababu?
Postmaster: I am going home.
Ratan: When will you return?
Postmaster: I will not come back.
Ratan did not ask any more questions. The postmaster of his own accord offered the explanation: he had applied for a transfer but the application was rejected and hence he had resigned and was going back home. For a long time neither of them spoke. The oil lamp burned throwing a flickering light while in one corner of the room raindrops leaked through the frail roof and dripped in a continuous stream into a clay pot on the floor.
After a while, Ratan picked herself up and walking dejectedly went to the kitchen to bake unleavened bread. Unlike other days she took a longer time to bake, probably that was because her mind was crowded with many anxieties. When the postmaster had finished his meal, the little girl asked abruptly, "Dadababu, will you take me home along with you?"
The postmaster laughed and said, "How is that possible?!" He did not feel it necessary to explain to the girl why it was not possible.
All through the night, in her waking state and in her dreams, the postmaster's words "How is that possible?!" rang in the girl's ears.
When the postmaster woke in the morning he found that water for his bath had been kept ready for him; according to his custom in Kolkata the postmaster preferred to bathe in water lifted from the river and kept ready. Ratan, for some reason, had not asked the postmaster at what time he would leave in the morning; she had, therefore, fetched water from the river well before sunrise in case the postmaster needed it. Ratan was called after conclusion of the bath. Ratan entered the room quietly and lifted her eyes once to her master's face awaiting his command in silence. The master said, "Ratan, I will tell the person who replaces me here to take good care of you just as I had done; you need not worry because I am leaving." There is no doubt that these words emanated from the bottom of a passionate and kind heart, but who can understand a woman's feelings?! Ratan had borne without complaint her master's numerous reproofs in the past, but she could not endure the kind words spoken now. She broke down sobbing as though her heart would break and cried, "No, no! You don't have to tell anything to anyone. I don't want to stay here."
The postmaster had never seen Ratan display such emotions before; he was taken aback.
The new postmaster arrived. The outgoing postmaster handed over charge and made preparations for his departure. Before leaving he called Ratan and said, "Ratan I have never given you anything. Now that I am leaving I wish to give you something; this will see you through for the next few days."
Keeping for himself a small amount which he would need for his journey, he removed the rest of the month's salary from his pocket. Ratan fell at his feet and cried, "O' Dadababu I beg of you, please don't give me anything; I beg of you, no one needs to worry about me." So saying Ratan fled away from there.
The former postmaster heaved a sigh; picked up his bag; slung his umbrella over the shoulder; assisted in lifting his tin trunk, painted in blue and white stripes, and placing it over the porter's head; and slowly walked towards the boat.
When he embarked and the boat began its journey, the rain-swollen river sparkled all around like tears shed by the earth. The former postmaster experienced a pang in his heart - he felt as though the pitiable simple village girl was crying out her hitherto unexpressed anguish. On one occasion he was overcome by a desire to turn back and bring the forsaken and orphan girl along with him - but by then the sails had picked up breeze, the rain-swollen river flowed swiftly, and the village was left far behind with only the burning ghat on the shores now visible. The traveler, afloat on the river, reflected with a heavy heart that life is full of miseries - it is about separations and deaths; what was the use of turning back? There are no bonds which tie people together in this world!
But no such philosophical thoughts suggested to Ratan. She kept walking around the post-office shedding tears. Probably her heart held a faint hope that Dadababu might return - that faint hope drew her to the post-office and she could not tear herself away from there. Oh, this foolish human heart! It likes to hold on to delusions; reasons enter the head only after a long time. It is possible to hold false hopes in a tight embrace even in the face of irrefutable evidence that they are all false! And then comes a day when these false hopes, after sucking up all the blood in the heart, flee. Then reason returns; and, then, the soul yearns to become entangled in the web of delusions once again.
Some useful links for
- 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