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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘The Post Office’
By Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941)
 
Translation of Devabrata Mukerjea

ACT II.  [Amal in bed.]

AMAL—Can’t I go near the window to-day, Uncle? Would the doctor mind that too?  1
  Madhav—Yes, darling, you see you’ve made yourself worse squatting there day after day.  2
  Amal—Oh, no, I don’t know if it’s made me more ill, but I always feel well when I’m there.  3
  Madhav—No, you don’t; you squat there and make friends with the whole lot of people round here, old and young, as if they are holding a fair right under my eaves—flesh and blood won’t stand that strain. Just see—your face is quite pale.  4
  Amal—Uncle, I fear my fakir’ll pass and not see me by the window.  5
  Madhav—Your fakir, whoever’s that?  6
  Amal—He comes and chats to me of the many lands where he’s been. I love to hear him.  7
  Madhav—How’s that? I don’t know of any fakirs.  8
  Amal—This is about the time he comes in. I beg of you, by your dear feet, ask him in for a moment to talk to me here.
[Gaffer enters in a Fakir’s guise.]
  9
  Amal—There you are. Come here, Fakir, by my bedside.  10
  Madhav—Upon my word, but this is—  11
  Gaffer  [winking hard]—I am the fakir.  12
  Madhav—It beats my reckoning what you’re not.  13
  Amal—Where have you been this time, Fakir?  14
  Fakir—To the Isle of Parrots. I am just back.  15
  Madhav—The Parrots’ Isle!  16
  Fakir—Is it so very astonishing? Am I like you, man? A journey doesn’t cost a thing. I tramp just where I like.  17
  Amal  [clapping]—How jolly for you! Remember your promise to take me with you as your follower when I’m well.  18
  Fakir—Of course, and I’ll teach you such secrets too of traveling that nothing in sea or forest or mountain can bar your way.  19
  Madhav—What’s all this rigmarole?  20
  Gaffer—Amal, my dear, I bow to nothing in sea or mountain; but if the doctor joins in with this uncle of yours, then I with all my magic must own myself beaten.  21
  Amal—No. Uncle shan’t tell the doctor. And I promise to lie quiet; but the day I am well, off I go with the fakir and nothing in sea or mountain or torrent shall stand in my way.  22
  Madhav—Fie, dear child, don’t keep on harping upon going! It makes me so sad to hear you talk so.  23
  Amal—Tell me, Fakir, what the Parrots’ Isle is like.  24
  Gaffer—It’s a land of wonders; it’s a haunt of birds. There’s no man; and they neither speak nor walk, they simply sing and they fly.  25
  Amal—How glorious! And it’s by some sea?  26
  Gaffer—Of course. It’s on the sea.  27
  Amal—And green hills are there?  28
  Gaffer—Indeed, they live among the green hills; and in the time of the sunset when there is a red glow on the hillside, all the birds with their green wings flock back to their nests.  29
  Amal—And there are waterfalls?  30
  Gaffer—Dear me, of course; you don’t have a hill without its waterfalls. Oh, it’s like molten diamonds; and, my dear, what dances they have! Don’t they make the pebbles sing as they rush over them to the sea. No devil of a doctor can stop them for a moment. The birds looked upon me as nothing but a man, quite a trifling creature without wings—and they would have nothing to do with me. Were it not so I would build a small cabin for myself among their crowd of nests and pass my days counting the sea waves.  31
  Amal—How I wish I were a bird! Then—  32
  Gaffer—But that would have been a bit of a job; I hear you’ve fixed up with the dairyman to be a hawker of curds when you grow up; I’m afraid such business won’t flourish among birds; you might land yourself into serious loss.  33
  Madhav—Really this is too much. Between you two I shall turn crazy. Now, I’m off.  34
  Amal—Has the dairyman been, Uncle?  35
  Madhav—And why shouldn’t he? He won’t bother his head running errands for your pet fakir, in and out among the nests in his Parrots’ Isle. But he has left a jar of curd for you saying that he is rather busy with his niece’s wedding in the village, and he has got to order a band at Kamlipara.  36
  Amal—But he is going to marry me to his little niece.  37
  Gaffer—Dear me, we are in a fix now.  38
  Amal—He said she would find me a lovely little bride with a pair of pearl drops in her ears and dressed in a lovely red sāree; and in the morning she would milk with her own hands the black cow and feed me with warm milk with foam on it from a brand new earthen cruse; and in the evenings she would carry the lamp round the cow-house, and then come and sit by me to tell me tales of Champa and his six brothers.  39
  Gaffer—How delicious! The prospect tempts even me, a hermit! But never mind, dear, about this wedding. Let it be. I tell you when you wed there’ll be no lack of nieces in his household.  40
  Madhav—Shut up! This is more than I can stand.  [Exit.]  41
  Amal—Fakir, now that Uncle’s off, just tell me, has the King sent me a letter to the Post Office?  42
  Gaffer—I gather that his letter has already started; but it’s still on the way.  43
  Amal—On the way? Where is it? Is it on that road winding through the trees which you can follow to the end of the forest when the sky is quite clear after rain?  44
  Gaffer—That’s so. You know all about it already.  45
  Amal—I do, everything.  46
  Gaffer—So I see, but how?  47
  Amal—I can’t say; but it’s quite clear to me. I fancy I’ve seen it often in days long gone by. How long ago I can’t tell. Do you know when? I can see it all; there’s the King’s postman coming down the hillside alone, a lantern in his left hand and on his back a bag of letters; climbing down for ever so long, for days and nights, and where at the foot of the mountain the waterfall becomes a stream he takes to the footpath on the bank and walks on through the rye; then comes the sugarcane field and he disappears into the narrow lane cutting through the tall stems of sugarcanes; then he reaches the open meadow where the cricket chirps and where there is not a single man to be seen, only the snipe wagging their tails and poking at the mud with their bills. I can feel him coming nearer and nearer and my heart becomes glad.  48
  Gaffer—My eyes aren’t young; but you make me see all the same.  49
 
 
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