"That's ridiculous!"



Ratan stood still for a while. Words seemed to be losing their way in the labyrinth of her silence. Oblivious, the postmaster continued, “I’d written a letter to my superiors in Calcutta, you see . . .” He then proceeded to tell her how his request had been accepted, and that he’d be leaving the moment the new postmaster arrived. A long, pregnant silence ensued. The world was still. Utterly still. The faint flame of the earthen lamp flickered meekly; the rain had sliced through the skin of the roof. A steady string of raindrops formed a puddle in the corner of the room. Drip. Drip.


After a while, Ratan slowly got up. She walked to the kitchen and busied herself in preparing dinner. It took longer than usual. The wait was filled with words to say, but the silence, deafening and absolute, seemed to fill the distance in between. Once the postmaster had finished eating, Ratan looked up at him.


“Dadababu, will you take me with you?”


The young man stared at the girl and then laughed.


“That’s ridiculous!”


He didn’t feel the need to explain to the little girl the incongruity of her innocent plea.


That night, suspended between the fields of dreams and wakefulness, a single phrase echoed in the caves of Ratan’s heart. The sound of familiar laughter. One phrase.


“That’s ridiculous!”



-An excerpt from The Postmaster by Rabindranath Tagore. Translated from the Bengali by Utsa Bose.

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