Of Women, Outcastes, Peasants, and Rebels: A Selection of Bengali Short Stories

By Kalpana Bardhan | Go to book overview

Letter from a Wife

Rabindranath Thakur

To your lotus feet,

This day completes nearly fifteen years of our marriage. I have never written to you before today. All this time that I was with you, you have heard many words from me, and I have heard many from you. There was never the gap that is necessary for one to write a letter to someone close.

I am now at the holy place by the Bay of Bengal, on pilgrimage; and you are at work in your office. You have grown attached to Calcutta the way snails are attached to their shells. It has simply adhered to your body and mind. That is why you did not even apply for a leave to come along. Perhaps it was divine intention that I was granted my desire for leave, my need for some distance.

In your joint family, I am known as the second daughter-in-law. All these years I have known myself as no more than that. Today, after fifteen years, as I stand alone by the sea, I know that I have another identity, which is my relationship with the universe and its creator. That gives me the courage to write this letter as myself, not as the second daughter-in-law of your family.

Long before anyone, except perhaps fate, knew of the possibility that my life would become linked with yours, when I was a small child, my brother and I both became ill with typhoid fever. My brother died of it, and I recovered. The women in our neighborhood were unanimous, “Mrinal survived because she’s a girl.” Yama, as the master robber that he is, always has his eyes out for the more valuable lives.

I am not one to die easily. That is what I want to say in this letter.

Dated Shravana 1321 (July to August 1914), “Streer Patra” appears in Rabindranath’s Galpa-
guchha
, vol. 3 (Calcutta: Visva-Bharati Granthayan Bihag, 1926), 213-23.

-96-

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Of Women, Outcastes, Peasants, and Rebels: A Selection of Bengali Short Stories
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • The Living and the Dead 51
  • The Punishment 62
  • The Girl in between 72
  • Haimanti 84
  • Letter from a Wife 96
  • The Witch 110
  • Variation on "The Witch"- An Excerpt 124
  • The Unlucky Woman 128
  • A Tale of These Days 135
  • The Old Woman 148
  • A Female Problem at a Low Level 152
  • Paddy Seeds 158
  • Dhowli 185
  • The Funeral Wailer 206
  • Strange Children 229
  • The Witch-Hunt 242
  • Giribala 272
  • The Daughter and the Oleander 290
  • In Search of Happiness 299
  • Through Death and Life 304
  • A Day in Bhushan’s Life 322
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