Selected short stories
Profit and Loss
This narrative briefly describes the short, sorrowful life of Nirupama. The name signifies ‘peerless one’ and was given to her by her parents, who were gratified with a daughter after having had five sons. Being treasured, her father searched long and hard to find a groom he deemed suitable enough for her. He engaged Nirupama to the son of a “grand” Raybahadur who asked for a dowry of 10,000 rupees. Even though he had no way of paying the large sum he found such a chance hard to refuse and he procured a way to borrow the money. However once this fell through the prospective husband, despite the wishes of his parents, still insisted on marrying. Once married, the bride’s father, Ramsundar Mitra had to beg to visit his daughter. She was treated spitefully and Ramsundar heard of the contempt and shame that his daughter was suffering and so attempted to sell the house, without the knowledge of his other children. Unluckily these found out and protested, halting his plans. Later she asked to come home for a few days, so he gathered a portion of the owed amount, yet the in-laws denied his request. At last he made up his mind to not return until he was in possession of the full sum. Finally he managed this, foregoing the wishes and needs of the rest of his household, however his daughter discovered this and forbade him to pay another single paisa, otherwise she warned that he would never see her again. Her sacrifice infuriated her new family even more, and she became more like a servant of the household, than a member of the family. She no longer cared, neglected her well-being and became seriously ill. Her in-laws refused to believe her illness was legitimate and only pitied her enough to call the doctor the night she died. Unlike their treatment of her while she was alive, her funeral pyre was said to be magnificent. Soon after, the family found a new wife for their son, the dowry this time was 20,000 “cash down”.
Little Master’s Return
Little Master’s Return tells of the life of a servant, Raicharan whose life is formed through his duties. He brings up his rich employer’s son, Anukul and in turn his son. During the monsoon season the little boy is insistent to go out for a walk one day, tempted by the gurgling water, he drowns. The dedicated servant is devastated and when the mistress, the mother to the boy suggests that it is perhaps he who stole him for the sake of the gold he was wearing, he leaves out of shame. Returning home, his old wife gave birth to a son. His wife died, and due to his contempt towards the boy, his sister looked after him and called him Phelna. Over time Raicharan convinced himself that this was in fact the little boy returning, ‘little master cannot do without my love: he has been born again in my house’. This conclusion came from several proofs: firstly the interval between the death and birth was short, his wife was thought to be beyond a child-bearing age and the child seemed to crawl, toddle and call his aunt ‘Pishi’ just as his little master had done. With this belief he no longer hated the child, but reared the child like that of a high born, not allowing him to play with the village children and even selling all his possessions in order to enable the child to go to a school for the high class in Calcutta. His fatherly affection to his son was un-doubtable but his devotion was more that of a servant. His son never even told his friends that this was his father and made fun of him behind his back. Due to his age Raicharan resigned his job in the city he had taken to pay for the school and went back to the village, to his old employers. He admitted that it was him who stole their child, but that he was to return in two days. The day came and the family was convinced that the boy, brought up in a manner similar to their own, was theirs. After all, how could have Raicharan have acquired such a boy? Why would the old servant...