Durbuddhi : Story by Rabindranath Tagore in English

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      I had to vacate my ancestral home. I'll not tell you in detail how it happened, but only give hints, was a rural doctor in a village, and my house was just opposite the police station. My allegiance to the Inspector was no less than to King Yama, the lord of death; therefore, was intimately aware of all the ways in which man and gob could cause harm to human beings. Like a gem and a bracelet that mutually add splendour to one another, the Inspector and I continued to grow in fortune through our give-and-take negotiation.

For such personal reasons, I had a special friendship with Inspector Lalit Chakrabarty, a worldly-wise man. By inviting me to marry one of his young female relatives from time to time, he was almost about to lure me, But my only daughter Shashi, is a motherless child, and I couldn't bring myself to put her in the charge of a stepmother.

      For such personal reasons, I had a special friendship with Inspector Lalit Chakrabarty, a worldly-wise man. By inviting me to marry one of his young female relatives from time to time, he was almost about to lure me, But my only daughter Shashi, is a motherless child, and I couldn't bring myself to put her in the charge of a stepmother. Year after year, the auspicious wedding fates in the new almanac went by without avail. So many worthy and unworthy grooms climbed the palanquin before my eyes, but I only took part at the wedding feasts with the bride's men in the outer rooms and returned home with a sigh.

      Sashi was about to cross twelve and become thirteen. I was give some hope that if I could raise enough money for dowry, I could marry her into a  wealthy, prominent family, once I could fulfil that duty, I could concentrate on another ceremony - my own marriage.

      One day, as I was absorbed in thoughts about this urgently needed sum of money, Harinath Majumdar from Tulsi village came pleading to me most helplessly. This is what had happened His widowed daughter had passed away suddenly in the night and his enemies had sent an anonymous letter to the Police Inspector, falsely alleging that the girl had died in an abortion. Now the police was after the corpse for an autopsy. This staggering insult, on top of the grief for his daughter's death, became unbearable for the old man. I was a doctor and a friend of the Inspector; I must save him from this torment somehow.

      When Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, wishes to bless, she appears thus unexpectedly, through the front or the back door. I shook my head vigorously and said, The matter is very serious'. I gave one or two false examples of being deceived before, and the trembling old Harinath began whimpering like a child.

      It is needless to say everything; suffice it to say that Harinath went bankrupt to give his daughter proper funeral rites. My daughter Shashi came and asked me piteously, 'Father, why was that old man crying at your feet like that? I scolded her, I want no more of your nonsense! Why do you have to know all these?"

      Now the way was clear for my daughter's marriage to a worthy groom. The wedding-date was set. Being the nuptial rite of my only daughter, I arranged for an extravagant teast. ln the absence of my wife, the neighbours came graciously to help. Harinath, utterly ruined but grateful, worked endlessly at the occasion.

      On the eve of the ritual ceremony of daubing the bride and groom with turmeric paste, which precedes the wedding, Shashi was suddenly stricken with cholera at three in the morning: Her situation continued to deteriorate rapidly. After all my efforts had failed, I threw the bottles of worthless medicine to the ground ran to Harinath and fell on his feet. "Forgive me, brother..... I have no one else"

      Harinath panicked at this and replied, "Sir, sir, what are you doing? I am forever indebted to you. Please don't touch my feet. Trained you for no fault of yours', I responded. 'My daughter is now paying for my sin with her life. Having said that, I screamed before everyone, 'Listen, all of you, I ruined this old man and I accept the punishment of that sin on myself. May God spare my Shashi!' Then I grabbed Harinath's slippers and began to hit myself on the head with them. The perturbed old man snatched the slippers away from me in a hurry.

      At ten o' clock next morning, with the yellow marks of the turmeric ceremony still on her, Shashi bid her eternal farewell to this world.

      The very next day, the Inspector came up to me and said, Hello! Why delay anymore? Get married now. You need someone to look after you.' Such brutal disregard for one's deepest sorrow was unseemly even for the devil. But in my dealings with the Inspector, I had shown such an ignoble side of my character that I didn't have the guts to answer his words. His friendship insulted me that day like the stroke of a whip.

      However afflicted the heart is, the cycle of events keeps moving. Again, one has to turn one's full energy to look for food to meet the hunger, the clothes to wear, and even collect wood for the stove and find laces for the shoes.

      At intervals between work, when I sat all alone in the house, I heard from time to time that piteous question echoing in my ear, Father, why was that old man crying at your feet like that? I got the thatch of poor Harinath's dilapidated hut repaired with my own money, gave him my dairy cow, and redeemed all his leased property from the creditors.

      For some time, stricken with the unbearable pain of recent loss, in the lonely evenings and sleepless nights, I frequently felt that my tender-hearted daughter, even after having finished her mortal life, could find no peace in the other world because of father's heartless, heinous deeds. As if perturbed, she kept asking me, 'Father, why did you do that?

      While I could not ask for fees from my poor patients after their treatment. If a little girl fell sick, I thought my own Shashi was suffering among all the sickly girls in the village. It was the monsoon season and the whole village was awash in torrential rain. One had to travel through the paddy-fields and the neighbourhood by boat. It had begun to rain before dawn and still there was no sign of easing. I was called up by the zamindar's estate office. The steersman of the zamindar's small boat, unable to accept any delay, was becoming rude.

      Previously, when I had to go out in such foul weather, there had been someone to open my worn-out umbrella and check for any holes in it, and an eager voice to caution me repeatedly to protect myself carefully from the gale-winds and splashes of rain. Today as I looked for my own umbrella in the empty, silent house, I procrastinated a bit recalling her loving, tender face. Looking at her closed bedroom, I thought, why should God provide for so much of affection at home for one who had the least concern for others' sufferings? Immersed in such thoughts as I came to the door of the empty room, I felt an aching void in my heart. But hearing the angry voice of the zamindar's servant shouting for me, I hastily contained my sorrow and stepped out.

      As I climbed into the boat, I saw a little canoe tied to the landing steps of the police station, and a peasant sitting in it wearing only a loincloth, dripping wet with rain. I asked him, What's the matter?" He said, his daughter had been bitten by a poisonous snake last night, and his misfortune had dragged him all the way from his far-off village to report it to the police. I noticed that the man had taken off his only upper garment to cover his daughter's dead body. Meanwhile, the zamindar's impatient boatman set off the boat.

      When I returned home at one o'clock in the afternoon, I saw the man still waiting there, huddled up and sopping wet in rain. He was yet to see the Inspector. I sent him a share or my prepared meal, but he refused to touch it.

      I hastily finished my midday meal and set out again to visit the patient at the zamindar's estate office. When I returned in the evening, I saw the man still sitting there in a bewildered state. When I asked him questions, he couldn't answer any of them, but just stared at me blankly. To him this river, this village, this police station, this overcast, wet and muddy world was now like a dream. By repeated questioning I learnt that a constable had come out once to ask him if he had any money tucked in the folds of his loincloth at the waist. He had replied, he was totally impoverished and had nothing. The constable had reprimanded, Wait then, you wretch, you sit and rot!'

      I had witnessed similar incidents many times in the past, but I had never felt anything about them. Today I found it utterly unbearable. My Shashi's indistinct, plaintive voice choked with emotion, seemed to echo all over the rainy sky. The unbound sorrow of that daughterless, dumbfounded peasant seemed to push through my ribcage.

      The Inspector was sitting on a cane stool, smoking a tobacco pipe in a relaxed mood. His uncle - the one with the marriageable daughter, who had come recently with me in mind - was sitting on a mat and chatting. I burst into the room like a storm and shouted out, 'Are you humans or beasts? Then I flung my whole day's income in front of them saying, If you want money, have this; take it with you when you die, but give that man a break, let him cremate his daughter.

      The love between the Inspector and the doctor that had been flourishing, moistened by the tears of so many persecuted people, was razed to the ground in that storm. Shortly after that I begged the Inspector at his feet; sang many praises of his generosity and cursed myself over and again for my lack of judgement; but in the end, I had to vacate my ancestral property.

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