Monday, 7 October 2019

The Home Coming

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                             The Home Coming







The Home-Coming    

[Childhood is a time for constant care and nurturing. A boy of fourteen wants to fly and see the world. But at the same time he needs all the affection and attention of the people who are closer to him. What happens to a boy who leaves his home and stays with his relatives? Is his own home the only and real paradise for him? This is the issue that R.N. Tagore explores in this story.]

Phatik Chakravarti was the ring-leader amongst the boys of the village. One day a plan for new mischief entered his head. There was a heavy log lying on the mud-flat of the river, waiting to be shaped into a mast for a boat. His plan was that they should all work together to shift the log by main force from its place and roll it away. The owner of the log would be angry and surprised, while they would all enjoy the fun. Every one supported the proposal, and it was carried unanimously. But just as the fun was about to begin, Makhan, Phatik’s younger brother, sauntered up without a word and sat down on the log in front of them all. The boys were puzzled for a moment. One of them pushed him rather timidly, and told him to get up; but he remained quite unconcerned. He appeared like a young philosopher meditating on the futility of things. Phatik was furious. ‘Makhan’, he cried, ‘if you don’t get up this minute, I’ll thrash you!’ Makhan only moved to a more comfortable position. Now, if Phatik was to keep his regal dignity before the public, it was clear that he must carry out his threat. But his courage failed him at the crisis. His fertile brain, however, rapidly seized upon a new manoeuvre which would discomfit his brother and afford his followers added amusement. He gave the word and command to roll the log and Makhan over together. Makhan heard the order and made it a point of honour to stick on. But like those who attempt earthly fame in other matters, he overlooked the fact that there was peril in it. The boys began to heave at the log with all their might calling out, “One, two, three, go!’ At the word ‘go’ the log went; and with it went Makhan’s philosophy, glory and all. The other boys shouted themselves hoarse with delight. But Phatik was a little frightened. He knew what was coming. And he was not mistaken, for Makhan rose from Mother Earth blind as Fate and screaming like the Furies. He rushed at Phatik, scratched his face, beat him and kicked him, and then went crying home. The first act of the drama was over. Phatik wiped his face, and sitting down on the edge of a sunken barge by the river bank, began to nibble at a piece of grass. A boat came up to the landing and a middle-aged man, with grey hair and dark moustache, stepped on to the shore. He saw the boy sitting there doing nothing and asked him where the Chakravartis lived. Phatik went on nibbling the grass and said:
‘Over there’; but it was quite impossible to tell where he pointed. The stranger asked him again. He swung his legs to and fro on theside of the barge and said: ‘Go and find out’ and continued to nibble the grass. But, at the moment, a servant came down from the house and told Phatik that his mother wanted him. Phatik refused to move. But on this occasion the servant was the master. He roughly took Phatik up and carried him, kicking and struggling in impotent rage. When Phatik entered the house, his mother saw him and called out angrily: ‘So you have been hitting Makhan again?’  Phatik answered indignantly: ‘No. I haven’t! Who told you that I had?’
His mother shouted: ‘Don’t tell lies! You have.’ Phatik said sullenly: ‘I tell you, I haven’t. You ask Makhan!’ But Makhan thought it best to stick to his previous statement. He said: ‘Yes, mother, Phatik did hit me.’ Phatik’s patience was already exhausted. He could not bear this injustice. He rushed at Makhan and rained on him a shower of blows: ‘Take that,’ he cried, ‘and that, and that, for telling lies.’ His mother took Makhan’s side in a moment and pulled Phatik away, returning his blows with equal vigour. When Phatik pushed her aside, she shouted out : ‘What ! You little villain! Would you hit your own mother?’ It was just at this critical moment that the grey-haired stranger arrived. He asked what had occurred. Phatik looked
sheepish and ashamed. But when his mother stepped back and looked at the stranger, her anger was changed to surprise, for she recognized her brother and cried ; ‘Why, Dada! Where have you come from?’ As she said these words, she bowed to the ground and touched his feet. Her brother Bishamber had gone away soon after she had married, and had started business in Mumbai. She herself had lost her husband while he was there. Bishamber had now come back to Calcutta*, and had at once made enquiries concerning his sister. As soon as he found out where she was, he had hastened to see her. The next few days were full of rejoicing. The brother asked how the two boys were being brought up. He was told by his sister that Phatik was a perpetual nuisance. He was lazy, disobedient, and wild. But Makhan was as good as gold,. as quiet as a lamb, and very fond of reading. Bishamber kindly offered to take Phatik off his sister’s hands and educate him with his own children in Calcutta. The widowed mother readily agreed. When his uncle asked Phatik if he would like to go to Calcutta with him, his joy knew no bounds, and he said: ‘Oh, yes, uncle!’ in a way that made it quite clear that he meant it. It was an immense relief to the mother to get rid of Phatik. * Now renamed Mumbai Kolkata respectively
She had a prejudice against the boy, and no love was lost between the two brothers. She was in daily fear that he would someday either drown Makhan in the river, or break his head in a fight, or urge him on into some danger. At the same time she was a little distressed to see Phatik’s extreme eagerness to leave his home.  Phatik, as soon as all was settled, kept asking his uncle every minute when they were to start. He was on pins all day long with excitement and lay awake most of the night. He bequeathed to Makhan, in perpetuity, his fishing-rod, his big kite, and his marbles. Indeed at this time of departure, his generosity towards Makhan was unbounded. When they reached Calcutta, Phatik met his aunt for the first time. She was by no means pleased with this unnecessary addition to her family. She found her own three boys quite enough to manage without taking any one else. And to bring a village lad of fourteen into their midst, was terribly upsetting. Bishamber should really have thought twice before committing such an indiscretion. In this world there is no worse nuisance than a boy at the age of fourteen. He is neither ornamental nor useful. It is impossible to shower affection on him as on a smaller boy; and he is always getting in the way. If he talks with a childish lisp he is called a baby, and if in a grow-up way he is called impertinent. In fact, talk of any kind from him is resented. Then he is at the unattractive, growing age. He grows out of his clothes with indecent haste: his face grows suddenly angular and unsightly. It is easy to excuse the shortcomings of early childhood, but it is hard to tolerate even unavoidable lapses in a boy of fourteen. He becomes painfully self-conscious, and when he talks with elderly people he is either unduly forward, or else so unduly shy that he appears ashamed of his own existence. Yet, it is at this age that in his heart of hearts, a young lad most craves recognition and love; and he becomes the devoted slave of any one who shows him consideration. But none dare openly love him, for that would be regarded as undue indulgence and therefore bad for the boy. So, what with scolding and chiding, he becomes very much like a stray dog that has lost its master. His own home is the only paradise that a boy of fourteen can know. To live in a strange house with strange people is little short of torture; while it is the height of bliss to receive the kind looks of women and never to suffer their slights. It was anguish to Phatik to be an unwelcome guest in his aunt’s house, constantly despised and slighted by this elderly woman. If she ever asked him to do anything for her, he would be so overjoyed that his joy would seem exaggerated; and then she
would tell him not to be so stupid, but to get on with his lessons. There was no more backward boy in the whole school than Phatik. He gaped and remained silent when the teacher asked him a question, and like an overladen ass patiently suffered the many thrashings that were meted out to him. When other boys were out at play, he stood wistfully by the window and gazed at the roofs of the distant houses. And if by chance he espied children playing on the open terrace of a roof, his heart would ache with longing. One day he summoned up all his courage, and asked his uncle, ‘Uncle, when can I go home?’ His uncle answered: ‘Wait till the holidays come.’
But the holidays would not come till October and there was still a long time to wait. One day Phatik lost his lesson book. Even with the help of books he had found it very difficult to prepare his lesson. But, now, it became impossible. Day after day the teacher caned him unmercifully. He became so abjectly miserable that even his cousins were ashamed to own him. They began to jeer and insult him more than even the other boys did. At last he went to his aunt and told her that he had lost his book. With an expression of the greatest contempt she burst out: ‘You great, clumsy, country lout ! How can I afford to buy you new books five times a month, when I have my own family to look after?’ That night, on his way back from school, Phatik had a bad
headache and a shivering fit. He felt that he was going to have an attack of malaria. His one great fear was that he might be a nuisance to his aunt. The next morning Phatik was nowhere to be seen. Search torrents all night, and those who went out to look for the boy were drenched to the skin. At last Bishamber asked the police to help him. At nightfall a police van stopped at the door of the house. It was still raining and the streets were flooded. Two constables carried Phatik out in their arms and placed him before Bishamber. He was wet through from head to foot, covered with mud, while, his face and eyes were flushed with fever and his limbs were trembling. Bishamber carried him in his arms and took him inside the house. When his wife saw him she exclaimed: ‘What a heap of trouble this boy has given us! Hadn’t you better send him home?’ Phatik heard her words and sobbed aloud: ‘Uncle, I was just going home; but they dragged me back again.’ The fever rapidly increased, and throughout the night the boy was delirious. Bishamber brought in a doctor. Phatik opened his eyes, and looking up to the ceiling said vacantly: ‘Uncle, have the holidays come yet?’ Bishamber wiped the tears from his eyes and took Phatik’s thin burning hands in his own and sat by his side through the night. Again the boy began to mutter, till at last his voice rose almost to a shriek: ‘Mother!’ he cried, ‘don’t beat me like that …… Mother! I am telling the truth.’
The next day Phatik, for a short time, became conscious. His eyes wandered round the room as if he expected someone to come. At last, with an air of disappointment, his head sank back on the pillow. With a deep sigh he turned his face to the wall. Bishamber read his thoughts, and bending down his head] whispered: ‘Phatik, I have sent for your mother.’ The day dragged on. The doctor said in a troubled voice that the boy’s condition was very critical. Phatik began to cry out: ‘By the mark-three fathoms. By the mark-four fathoms.’ By the mark. Many times had he heard the sailors on the river-steamers calling out the mark on the lead line. Now he was himself plumbing an unfathomable sea. Later in the day Phatik’s mother burst into the room like a whirlwind, and rocking herself to and fro from side to side, began to moan and cry. Bishamber tried to calm her, but she flung herself on the bed, and cried: ‘Phatik, my darling, my darling.’ Phatik stopped his restless movements for a moment. His hands ceased beating up and down. He said: ‘Ehtrs’? The mother cried again: ‘Phatik, my darling, my darling.’ Very slowly Phatik’s eyes wandered, but he could no longer see the people around his bed. At last he murmured: ‘Mother, the holidays have come.’                                                               Rabindranath Tagore



Glossary:
ringleader (n) : the leader in any prank or mischief. Phatik was the ringleader of the boys in the village.

mud-flat (n) : stretch of muddy land He got stuck in the mud-flat near his house.

unanimously (adv) : collectively, without opposition from anyone. He was elected leader of the party unanimously.

sauntered (v) : walked slowly and silently. The arrogant boy sauntered up to his father and started shouting.

timidly (adv) : couragelessly, in a cowardly manner She timidly said that she would obey as she was told.

meditating (v) : thinking deeply He was meditating on his future plans.

futility (n) : uselessness. A pessimist is convinced of the futility of life in this world.

furious (adj) : very angry He was furious when he was not allowed to enter.

thrash (v) : beat or flog The teacher thrashed the boy without much reason.

regal (adj) : royal The prince was wearing a regal dress.

carry out (v) : fulfill, perform You must carry out the orders of your father.

crisis (n) : difficult time He is upset as he is passing through a crisis.

fertile brain (n) : brain capable of plenty of thoughts. His fertile brain is full of new ideas.

manoeuvre (n) : clever plan The army displayed some excellent manoeuvres and impressed everybody on the scene.

discomfit (v) : annoy His foolish behaviour discomfited me a lot.

amusement (n) : happiness, entertainment The show was full of fun and amusement.

earthly (adj) : worldly His earthly ways show his humility.

peril (n) : danger You must know the perils involved in this project.

glory (n) : fame The glory of the great never fades.  shouted themselves hoarse (v) : shouted excitedly until their voices became rough. The boys shouted themselves hoarse with delight.

blind (adj) : unreasonable He is blind to his own faults.

impotent rage (n) : helpless anger He only shouted in impotent rage but could do nothing.

sheepish (adj) : embarrassed She felt very sheepish when she was proved to be a liar.

perpetual (adj) : never ending Your absence from home will be a perpetual problem.

nibble (v) : to chew She was nibbling at her nails when the teacher told her to behave properly in the class.

indignantly (adv) : annoyingly The servant answered back indignantly that he would like to quit.

sullenly (adv) : with a bad temper, sulkily She only sullenly told her father that she would give up all contacts with her friend.

stick to (v) : continue doing You should stick to your promise.

exhausted (v) : extremely tired I was totally exhausted after the day’s work. All the rations were exhausted by the end of the month.

vigour (n) : force You should work with full vigour to achieve success.

nuisance (v) : trouble This naughty boy is a perpetual nuisance in the class.

prejudice (n) : bias You should have no prejudice against manual work.

urge him into (v) : get him involved I shall urge him into taking interest in his job.

distressed (v) : disturbed She was distressed at his poor condition. on pins : extremely uneasy The young boy was all the time on pins when he was waiting for his turn.

bequeathed (v) : left behind, presented She bequeathed her belongings to her sister before she left home for good.

in perpetuity (adv) : forever He gave her all her property in perpetuity before she left for USA.

unbounded (adj) : unlimited This mother has an unbounded love for her only son.

upsetting (adj) : disturbing It was quite upsetting to learn that she had lost her wedding ring.

anguish (n) : deep mental pain I had to suffer a lot of anguish during those difficult days.

despised (v) : held in contempt I despised his habit of postponing things.

meted out (v) : gave The punishment meted out to him was greater than the crime he committed.
espied (v) : saw The policeman espied the thief running away and got him captured.
abjectly miserable (adj) : extremely miserable She was living in an abjectly miserable condition after the death of her husband.

to own (v) : to claim belonging I own a big house on the Mall.

jeer (v) : mock, abusing vocally People jeered at him when he failed to give a good performance on the stage.

lout (n) : ill-mannered person Nobody likes the ways of that country lout.

torrent (n) : heavy downpour A big torrent of rain flooded the city in no time.

flushed (adj) : reddened I found him flushed with anger when he failed to convince his father.
delirious (adj) : suffering from illusions, semi-conscious Phatik was in a delirious state when his mother came to see him.

read his thoughts : understood his feelings The mother could easily read the thoughts of her son even though he kept quiet.

critical (adj) : very serious He was in a critical state before he died.

by the mark - three fathoms etc : this is how sailors measure the depth of water The water was three fathoms deep.

fathom (n) : measure of six feet

lead line (n) : piece of lead attached to the end of a string to measure the depth of water. The sailor measured the depth of water with a lead line.

plumbing (v) : measuring out The official is plumbing out the depth of the hole.

whirlwind (n) : spiral windstorm He was caught in a whirlwind but was saved by timely action.



1. He was the ring leader among the boys of the village.
2. He planned to roll away the log from its place.
3. Because he refused to obey Phatik.
4. His new plan was to move Makhan and the log over together.
5. Because he lied to the mother.
6. No, he was not speaking the truth.
7. Because she thought he would put Makhan in danger one day.
8. His aunt was not happy. She did not welcome him.
9. Because he was the most backward boy in the school.
10. She was very angry. She scolded him.
11. He had malaria. He did not want to upset his aunt.
12. Because Phatik was very sick. He was looking for his mother.
13. His last words were, “Mother, the holidays have come.”



























































In this world there is no worse nuisance than a boy at the age of fourteen. He is neither ornamental, nor useful. It is impossible to shower affection on him as on a smaller boy; and he is always getting in the way.
If he talks with a childish lisp he is called a baby, and if he in a grown-up way he is called impertinent.


Yet it is at this very age when in his heart of hearts a young lad most craves for recognition and love; and he becomes the devoted slave of any one who shows him consideration.
But none dare openly love him, for that would be regarded as undue indulgence and therefore bad for the boy.


So, what with scolding and chiding, he becomes very much like a stray dog that has lost its master.
His own home is the only paradise that a boy of fourteen, can know.


To live in a strange house with strange people is little short of torture, while it is the height of bliss to receive the kind looks of women, and never to suffer their slights.
It was anguish to Phatik to be an unwelcome guest in his aunt’s house.


Yet it is at this very age when in his heart of hearts a young lad most craves for recognition and love; and he becomes the devoted slave of any one who shows him consideration.
His own home is the only paradise that a boy of fourteen, can know.


But none dare openly love him, for that would be regardad as undue indulgence and therefore bad for the boy.
So, what with scolding and chiding, he becomes very much like a stray dog that has lost its master.


His own home is the only paradise that a boy of fourteen, can know.
It was anguish to Phatik to be an unwelcome guest in his aunt’s house.


There was no more backward boy in the whole school than Phatik.
When other boys were out at play, he stood wistfully by the window and gazed at the roofs of the distant houses.



One day Phatik lost his lesson-book. Even with the help of books, he had found it very difficult to prepare his lesson. But now it became impossible. Day after day the teacher caned him unmercifully.
His condition became so abjectly miserable that even his cousins were ashamed to own him. They began to jeer and insult him more than the other boys did. He went to  his aunt at last, and told her that he had lost his book.




That night, on his way back from school, Phatik had a bad headache with a shivering fit. The next morning Phatik was nowhere to be seen. At the end of the day, a police van stopped at the door before the house. It was still raining and the streets were all flooded.
Two constables carried Phatik out in their arms, and placed him before Bishamber. He was wet through, from head to foot, muddy allover, his face and eyes flushed red with fever, and his limbs trembling.


Bishamber carried him in his arms, and took him inside house. When his wife saw him, she exclaimed.