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THE LOST JEWELS -Rabindranath Tagore SUMMARYA stranger sat on the stone steps or old bathing ghat of a river,

near a huge, abandoned house with broken windows and dilapidated verandahs. A dishevelled schoolmaster engaged him in conversation. He asked him his name and whereabouts to which the stranger's reply was only partially truthful. He said that he was a merchant from Ranchi but gave a false name. He told the schoolmaster that he would be staying in the broken-down old house above the ghat. The school master then told him the story of what had happened in that big house many years ago. Ten years ago, when he had come to the place, an educated modernized Bengali, Bhusan Saha lived in the house. His uncle Durga Saha, who was childless, had left his entire property to Bhusan. Bhusan's weakness was that he could not be strict with his beautiful wife, Mani. He loved her but was unable to be either firm or severe with her. He had brought her away from the family home. Full of relatives, thinking he would have her completely to himself but that only resulted in losing her more. He indulged in all her whims and fancies and lavished on her jewels in a desperate attempt to gain her love. But she was cold hearted in her responses to him and all his lavish overtures of love. He turned out a failure not only at home but also in his business for which he could neither borrow money in the market where he was known nor get it from a stranger because it would necessitate some security. He had pampered his wife and when his business ran into losses, he did not have the courage to ask her to help him out by giving her jewellery as a security for a loan. In fact, most of the jewellery that she possessed had been bought by him. When he finally mustered the courage to ask, she set her face hard and did not respond to his request, which hurt him. So, Bhusan went to Calcutta to find some way to raise funds. Mani, Meanwhile approached her cousin Modhu, who was working on Bhusans estate, for advice. Modhu was of the opinion that Bhusan would never be able to raise the money. He warned Mani that she would eventually have to part with her jewellery. Agitated at the thought, Mani asked Modhu what she should do to which he suggested that she take all her jewellery and leave to her father's house. Modhu, being sly and opportunistic, hoped that a portion of the jewels would finally be his. Though Mani acted on the suggestion of Modhu, she did not trust him. So, when he asked her for the box of jewels, As soon as she stepped into the boat she told him that she would give it to him later. The truth was that an obsessed Mani had spent the whole night covering her entire body with the jewellery. Modhu wrote a letter to the chief steward informing him that he was taking his mistress to her fathers house. The steward, who was an old and loyai caretaker, was quite enraged and wrote a long letter to Bhusan, in which he strongly criticized Bhusans laxity, blaming it for the turn of events. Bhusan was very hurt that though he had allowed his wife to have her way and not part with her jewellery, even though he was undergoing hardship, she had not appreciated his gesture and had certainly not trusted him. Instead of bursting out in anger as any man would have, he passively accepted his fate and decided to do his duty. After ten or twelve days, on obtaining a loan, he returned home, expecting to find Mani there but to his disappointment found the house empty. Bhusan was hurt and distressed but decided to wait till she came back. However, on the advice of his steward, Bhusan sent messengers to Manis fathers house and it was found that neither Modhu nor Mani had ever been there. A search was carried out to trace the two of them but it was not successful.

One day, when all his hopes had almost died, Bhusan was sitting by the window brooding about his lost love when he heard a strange clinking sound of ornaments come up the steps of the ghat up to the house. Then there was a torrent of harsh metallic blows on the door and when Saha shook the locked door he awoke from his dream, soaked in sweat. The next nights he left the main door unlocked and sat up waiting, restraining himself from moving, as the sound reached up to the threshold of his room. Unable to contain the wild excitement within, he called out Mani and sprang out of the chair, only to wake up to the noises of the rain and frogs and reality. The following day, he felt a strange peace and knew within that the mysteries he longed to know were to be revealed that night. As on the previous nights the jingling sound came up to the bedroom door. Bhusan sat with his eyes closed. It finally came near Bhusan and stood there. Bhusan, when he opened his eyes, saw a skeleton covered in jewels, with lifelike wet eyeballs between the long thick eyelashes staring from the bony face. The skeleton stretched out its hand which was covered with sparkling rings and bangles and motioned to him to follow. Bhusan followed the skeleton in a dreamlike daze past the verandah, the staircase, lower verandah, the hail and came to a brick paved garden. It led him out to the river ghat down the steps and descended into the river. When his foot touched the water he slipped headlong into the river. Although he knew how to swim, his limbs seemed powerless and not in his control. He appeared, for an instant, to awaken from dreams to momentarily hover in reality, only to be sucked into everlasting sleep. When the schoolmaster stopped talking, they suddenly became aware of the still silence of the surrounding darkness. Unable to see the expression on the strangers face he asked whether he believed the story. In reply to the strangers query whether he did, the schoolmaster said No because he perhaps felt that it was too imaginative and ghostly to be true. The stranger, however, interrupted him to say that his name was in fact Bhusan Saha but his wifes name was Nitya Kali. Tagore leaves the story hanging in ambiguity, a deliberate ploy to facilitate varied interpretation. However, it does appear that the ghost of Bhusan Saha had come and sat on the steps of the ghat, pining for his wife, his lost jewel. POINTS TO NOTESignificance Of The Title: The point to ponder here is what is being meant by 'jewels. What is lost here? Is it the material trinkets and adornments that the wife held so dear to her or is it the life that vanished as easily as the aforementioned jewels did? A deeper look would reveal that the lost jewels, in Mani's case would be the jewellery and trinkets but in Bhusan Saha's case would be his wife, the jewel he lost. Theme: Loneliness and insecurity of a childless woman married to a rich, educated businessman which makes her turn obsessively to jewels and ornaments to try and fill the vacuum within her. Avarice and Greed - An opportunistic cousin of Mani, Modhu has his own selfish and devious plan laid out. His sight is firmly fixed on the jewels and he is ready to ensnare the vulnerable, obsessed Mani. Obsession with objects of material value which fills one with a pseudo sense of security. Point of View: The story is narrated by a local schoolmaster with a penchant for conversation and

storytelling to a stranger, sitting on the steps of an old bathing ghat or a river. The narrator here gives his version or the story cloaked in the chauvinistic orthodoxy or that era. Symbolism: The jewels become a material representation of love when Bhusan Suha showers his wife with it in return for her Love. The jewels represent security in the lonely and barren life of Mani. It is not without reason that Tagore ends the story with Bhusan saying his wife's name is Nitya Kali (a name of Ma Kali the divine source of consciousness). Nitya Kali means 'the dark, forbidding eternity. Thus, playing on truth and fiction, the author allows the reader to wander into whichever realm he chooses to.