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~ Rituparna Ray Chaudhuri.


The trapping of the story The Castaway has magnificently abrupt my mind when I
get to depict the story from the tremendous genius work of Rabindranath Tagore on
the emotional journey of the protagonist of the story of the young orphan Nilkanta
who seeks to win over the undivided affection of Kiran, the lady of the house in
which he has been given shelter. On that day when the storm was at its height and
inside a closed room an earthen lamp was burning.
The Castaway is an apt title for the story which depicts how Nilkanta becomes a
castaway, both physically and emotionally. `````````````
..But Kiran with her innocent mind said determinedly: Never. She, with
flushed face, sat down helplessly with the inkstand in her hand, puzzled and
Towards evening, I found the storm was quite at its height. From the terrific
downpour of rain, the crash of thunder, and the repeated flashes of lightning, you
might think that a battle of the gods and demons was raging in the skies. Black
clouds waved like the Flags of Doom. The Ganges was lashed into a fury, and the
trees of the gardens on either bank swayed from side to side with sighs and groans.
In a closed room of one of the riverside houses at Chandernagore, a husband and
his wife were seated on a bed spread on the floor, intently discussing. An earthen
lamp burned beside them.
The husband Sharat, was saying: I wish you would stay on a few days more; you
would then be able to return home quite strong again.
The wife, Kiran, was saying: I have quite recovered already. It will not, cannot
possibly, do me any harm to go home now.
Every married person will at once understand that the conversation was not quite so
brief as I have reported it. The matter was not difficult, but the arguments for and
against did not advance it towards a solution. Like a rudderless boat, the discussion
kept turning round and round the same point; and at last it threatened to be
overwhelmed in a flood of tears!
Sharat said: The doctor thinks you should stop here a few days longer.

Kiran replied: Your doctor knows everything!

Well, said Sharat, you know that just now all kinds of illnesses are abroad. You
would do well to stop here a month or two more.
And at this moment I suppose everyone in this place is perfectly well!
After getting married to Sharat, Kiran, their little darling became a universal
favourite with Sharats family and neighbours. However, when she fell seriously ill,
they were all anxious. Sharat and his mother decided to shift the family for some
time to Chandernagore, to enable Kiran to recover from her illness. The village
wiseacres thought it shameless for her husband to make so much fuss about a mere
wife and even to suggest a change of air, and asked if Sharat supposed that no
woman had ever been ill before, or whether he had found out that the folk of the
place to which he meant to take her were immortal. Did he imagine that the writ of
Fate did not run there? But at, Sharat and his mother turned a deaf ear to them,
thinking the little life was of greater importance than the united wisdom of a village.
People are wont to reason thus when danger threatens their loved ones. Kiran, on
the other hand, was an extrovert by nature; she was fond of people and
amusement. Therefore, the only loneliness in the riverside villa did not suit her.
There was nothing to do and she hated to be busy all day with medicine and dieting.
Such was the subject discussed in their closed room on this stormy evening.
So long as Kiran deigned to argue, there was a chance of a fair fight. When she
ceased to reply, and with a toss of her head disconsolately looked the other way,
the poor man was disarmed. There was a pinched look on her face which filled the
beholder with pity, and made his heart tremble, as he thought how narrowly she
had escaped death. He was on the point of surrendering unconditionally to Kiran,
who recovered though she was still weak, when one night a servant shouted a
message through the closed door. Sharat went out and came to know that a
rudderless boat had capsized in the storm and a young Brahmin had succeeded in
swimming ashore in their garden.
Kiran, was however at once her own sweet self, was quick to show her generousity.
She took out some dry clothes for the boy. She then warmed a cup of milk and
invited him to her room. The boy was fairly young; he had long curly hair, big
expressive eyes, but had no beard. He told her that his name was Nilkanta and that
he belonged to a theatrical group. When the boat of the group had suddenly
capsized terribly in the storm, he had managed to swim ashore. Being castaway in
the storm, he became helpless but Kirans family gave him shelter. Sharat thought
the boys appearance at this moment rather a good thing, as his wife would now
have something to amuse her, and might be persuaded to stay on for some time
longer. The mother-in-law, too, at the prospect of profiting their Brahmin guest,
Nilkanta by her kindness into her house. And Nilkanta himself was delighted at his

double escape from his master and from the other world, as well as at finding a
home in this wealthy family.
But-in a very short while, Sharat and his mother changed their opinion. Sharat was
extremely class-conscious and as such disapproved of Nilkantas uncultured
behaviour. The boy found a secret pleasure in smoking Sharats hookahs; he would
calmly go off in a pouring rain with Sharats best silk umbrella for a stroll through
the village, and make friends with all whom he met. Moreover, he had got hold of a
mongrel village dog which he petted so recklessly that it came indoors with muddy
paws, and left tokens of its visit on Sharats spotless bed. Then he gathered about
him a devoted band of boys of all sorts and sizes, and the result was that not a
solitary mango in the neighbourhood had a chance of ripening that season.
There is no doubt that Kiran had a hand in spoiling the boy. Sharat often warned her
about it, but she would not listen to him. She made a dandy of him with Sharats
cast-off clothes, and gave him new ones too. And because she felt drawn towards
him, and also had a curiosity to know more about him, she was constantly calling
him to own room. After, her bath and mid-day meal Kiran would be seated on the
bedstead with her betel-leaf box by her side; and while her maid combed and dried
her hair, Nilkanta would stand in front and recite pieces out of his repertory with
appropriate gesture and song, his elf-locks waving wildly. Thus the long afternoon
hours passed merrily. Kiran would often try to persuade Sharat to sit with her as
one of the audience, but Sharat, who had taken a cordial dislike to the boy, refused,
nor could Nilkanta do his part half so well when Sharat was there. His mother would
sometimes be lured by the hope of hearing sacred names in the recitation; but love
of her mid-day sleep speedily overcame devotion, and she lay lapped in dreams.
It was hard to tell Nilkantas age. He had joined theatrical group when he was
young and circumstances had trapped him in a half-boy, half- man state. Sharat ,
was contemptuous of Nilkantas free access to his treasured possessions and
warned his wife against indulging him too much. He was distressful of Nilkanta but
gave in thus to the affections of beloved wife. A thoughtful providence so arranged
things that Nilkanta grew to the exact stature that his manager required, and then
growth ceased. Since everyone saw how small he was, and he himself felt small, he
did not receive due respect for his years. These causes, natural and artificial,
combined to make him sometimes seem immature for seventeen years, and at
other times a lad of fourteen but far too knowing for seventeen. And as no sign of
hair appeared on his face, the confusion became greater. but innocence and
youth shone in his large eyes. I, fancy that his heart remained young but the hot
glare of publicity had been a forcing house that ripened untimely his outward
aspect. His seventeen or eighteen years came to adequate revelation. No one
observed the change, and its first sign was this, that when Kiran treated him like a
boy, he felt ashamed. When the gay Kiran one day proposed that he should play the
part of a ladys companion, the idea of womans dress hurt him, though he could
not say why. So now, when she called for him to act over again his old characters,

he disappeared. He even made up his mind to pick up a little education from

Sharats factor. But for, Nilkanta as was the pet of his masters wife, the factor could
not endure the sight of him. He wanted to read and write but did not have the
patience for it. He would sit long enough with an open book on his lap, leaning
against a champak bush beside the Ganges. He never advanced from one word to
another, but the glorious thought that he was actually reading a book filled with
exultation. Whenever a boat went by, he lifted his book, and pretended to be
reading hard, shouting at the top of his voice. But of, his energy dropped as soon as
the audience was gone. Formerly he sang his songs automatically, but now their
tunes stirred in his mind... even the little meaning they had was beyond his
comprehension; yet when he sang
Twice-born bird, ah! Wherefore stirred
To wrong our royal lady?
Goose, ah! Say why wilt thou slay
Her in forest shady?, made him to be transported to another world and even to
other folk. When with evening the child of want lies down, dirty and hungry, in his
squalid home, and hears of prince and princess and fabled gold, then in the park
hovel with its dim flickering candle, his mind springs free from her bonds of poverty
and misery, and walks in fresh beauty and glowing raiment, strong beyond all fear
of hindrance, through that fairy realm where all is possible. When the singing ended,
the mirage faded, and Nilkanta of the stage appeared again, with his wild elf-locks.
Fresh from the complaints of his neighbour, the owner of the despoiled mangoorchard, Sharat would come and box his ears, and cuff him. The boy Nilkanta, the
misleader of adoring youths, went forth once more, to make even new mischief by
land and water and in the branches that are above the earth.
The lapping water, rustling leaves, and calling birds; the goddess who had given
shelter to him, the helpless, the God-forsaken; her gracious, lovely face, her
exquisite arms with their shining bangles, her rosy feet as soft as flower petals; all
these by some magic became one with the music of his song.
Thus, the tale of goose and kings daughter flung upon the mirror of his mind a
picture of surpassing beauty. It is impossible to say what he imagined he himself
was, but the destitute little slave of the theatrical troupe faded from his memory.
What thoughts passed through his mind as he looked down on that book he alone
knew, if indeed he did not know.
Shortly after the advent of Nilkanta.The story, thus ends, in a
misunderstanding. Satish was the source of Nilkantas bitterness and was irritated
with his petty ways of causing him annoyance. Satish did not trust the boy at all and

like everybody else, he did not take kindly to Kirans excessive indulgence on
Nilkanta. He felt that the boy was taking undue advantage of Kirans affection and
was annoyed by it.
Nilkanta and Kiran had a tie of affection, but unfortunately it could not be
permanent. Due to his mischievous behavior, Nilkanta as seen lost favour with the
rest of the family. His whole world revolved around Kiran, about whom he had
become very possessive. With the arrival of Satish, Kirans brother-in-law, shortly
after the advent of Nilkanta, came to spend his college vacation with them. Nilkanta
was filled with bitterness that made him vengeful towards everybody. He felt
miserable at Kirans lack of attention to him.
As such.., Heaven only knows what possessed poor Nilkanta that he became
extremely bitter towards Satish. Nilkanta therein experienced emotional insecurity
and developed a vengeful attitude. Kiran had become more occupied with her
brother-in-law and Nilkanta thought that he was poisoning her mind against him.
Both, Kiran and Satish were of the same age, and the time passed pleasantly in
games and quarrels and makings-up and laughter and even tears. Suddenly she
would clasp him over the eyes, from behind with vermillion-stained hands, she
would write monkey on his back, and sometimes bolt the door on him from outside
amidst peals of laughter. Satish in turn, did not take things lying down; he would
take her key and rings, he would put pepper among her betel; he would tie her to
the bed when she was not looking.
Nilkanta, on the other hand could not show his enmity outright and so he devised a
thousand petty ways to annoy him. He had an idea that a Brahmins wrath could
never be in vain and the more he tried to consume Satish with the fire of his curses,
the more did his own heart burn within him. He took to praying to the gods, with all
the fervor of his hate, to make him at the next rebirth Satish, and Satish him. And
upstairs he would hear Satish laughing and joking with his sister-in-law. Nilkanta
thought that he was castaway from Kirans favour.
When Satish went for a swim in the river, and left his soap on the steps of the
bathing place, on coming back for it he would find that it had disappeared. Once he
found his favourite striped tunic floating past him on the water, and thought it had
been blown away by the wind.
One day, Kiran to her innocence, desiring to entertain Satish, sent for Nilkanta to
recite as usual, but he stood there in a gloomy silence. Quite surprised at, Kiran
asked him what was the matter. But at, Nilkanta remained silent. And when again
pressed by her to repeat some particular favourite piece of hers, he answered: I
dont remember, and walked away.
Nothing therefore, tasted right to Nilkanta. If Kiran was not present to ask him to
try this and that, he was miserable. He would get up without eating much, and say
to the serving maid in a chocking voice: I am not hungry. He thought in

imagination that the news of his repeated refusal would soon reach to Kiran, and he
pictured her concern and hoped that she would send for him and press him to eat.
However, Kiran on the other hand never knew of it and never sent for him; and the
maid finished whatever he left.
At last the time came for return home-------------Everybody hence was busy packing up. Satish was going with them. But of, to
Nilkanta nobody said a word. The question whether he was to go or not seemed not
to have occurred to anybody except Kiran, who had proposed to take him along with
them. Unfortunate to her, her husband and his mother and his brother had all
objected her decision very strenuously that she let the matter drop. A couple of
days before they were to start, she sent the boy, and with kind words advised him
to go back to his own home. So many days had he felt neglected that this touch of
kindness was too much for him; he burst into tears. ..
Kirans eyes were also brimming over at the thought that she had created a tie of
affection, which could not be permanent. But at, Satish was much annoyed at the
blubbering of this overgrown boy. When Kiran scolded him for an unfeeling creature,
he said Sister mine, you do not understand. You are too good and trustful. The
fellow turns up from the Lord knows where, and is treated like a king. Naturally the
tiger has no wish to become a mouse again. And he was evidently discovered that
there is nothing like a tear or two to soften your heart.
In the quiet shelter of Sharats house and garden at Chandernagore, Nature had
leisure to work her way unimpeded.
Nilkanta, but on the other side being unbearable to tolerate those words hurriedly
would leave the spot. He felt to cut Satish to pieces, a needle to pierce him through
and through; a fire to burn him to ashes, but Satish was not even scarred. It was
only his heart that bled and bled. ---- What was his grievance? Against whom? And
from whom did he expect redress?
Satish had a fondness for exquisite things and had brought with himself from
Calcutta, a grand inkstand. It was his favourite article, and he diligently cleaned it
everyday. He flew into a rage when it went missing. He was sure that Nilkanta had
stolen it and confronted him about the missing inkstand. He was not convinced
when Kiran came to Nilkantas rescue. He had the accused brought before him.
Kiran was also there. You have stolen my inkstand, you thief! he blurted out. Bring
it back at once.
Nilkanta had always taken punishment from Sharat, deserved or undeserved, with
perfect equanimity, but of, when he was called a thief in Kirans presence, his eyes

blazed with a fierce anger, his breast swelled, and his throat choked. If Satish had
said another word he would have flown at him like a wild cat, and used his nails like
He was either a man too early or a boy too late. The fact was that, joining the
theatrical band when very young, he had played the parts of Radhika, Damayantani,
Sita and Bidyas companion.
Kiran was greatly distressed at the scene, and taking the boy into another room said
in her sweet, kind way: Nilu, if you really have taken that inkstand give it to me
quietly, and I shall see that no one says another word to you about it. big tears
coursed down the boys cheeks, till at last he hid his face in his hands, and wept
bitterly. Kiran came back from the room and said: I am sure Nilkana has not taken
the inkstand. Sharat and Satish were equally positive that no other than Nilkanta
could have done it.
Satish wanted his room and box searched but Kiran was adamant not to let this
happen. Satish cared for Kiran and could not see her in tears and so he dropped the
matter for her sake. He decided to forego his treasured inkstand for the happiness
of his sister-in-law. Satish saw Nilkanta as a freeloader, who was taking advantage
only of Kirans trustful nature. She said to Satish, If you dare do such a thing I will
never, never forgive you. You shall not spy on the poor innocent boy. And as spoke,
her wonderful eyes filled with tears. That settled the matter, and effectually
prevented any further molestation of Nilkanta!
When the family now decided to return home for Calcutta, Nilkanta was therefore
and thereafter devastated at the thought of being left behind, just as he had begun
to think that he had a home. On the other hand, Kirans heart overflowed with pity
at this attempted outrage on a homeless lad. With her kindness and generosity as
she treated each person as individual, unmindful of his class or standing, she
showered the same warmth and affection on Nilkanta as on her brother-in-law. With
Satish, she had a harmless playful relationship and Nilkanta, she was very kind and
indulgent. Being pitied therefore, she got for him two new suits of clothes, and a
pair of shoes and with these and a banknote in her hand; she quietly went into
Nilkantas room in the evening! She intended to put these parting presents into his
box as a surprise. The box itself had been her gift. ------------FROM HER BUNCH OF KEYS SHE SELECTED ONE THAT FITTED, AND NOISELESSLY

AND ALL! -------------------------________
Having been castaway by the entire family, Kiran had now cast him away as well.
-----Nilkanta acted recklessly and stole Satishs favourite inkstand . --------He had
willingly taken all deserved or undeserved punishment meted out to him but could
not bear the thought of Kiran thinking him to be a thief.
He fled. Nobody knew about his whereabouts. The police also failed to trace him.
Without allowing her husband to have a look into the box, she had it brought up to
her own room. Said Sharat, Now, as a matter of curiosity, let us have a look at his
box. Kiran was obstinate in her refusal to allow that to be done. She had the box
brought up to her own room; and taking out the inkstand alone, threw it into the
river.-----When Nilkanta entered Kirans home he was a castaway and when he left
it, thus he was once again, a castaway.!
The waves sighed below, boats floated past, birds flitted and twittered restlessly
Thus, this poignant story ends in a misunderstanding. The tie of affection that once
had bound them was lost forever. -----In a day the garden became desolate. The
whole family went home.
The story has powerfully captured the turbulent emotional upheaval in the psyche
of a growing youth. It also conveys the nature of fantasy hopes and desires of a
teenager and the resultant despair at their unfulfilment.
Nilkanta was heart broken and ashamed that his deed was out. He did not want
Kiran to think that he was a thief; it was, as imitates merely a moment of weakness
prompted by revenge. He misunderstood Kirans kind intentions and was debased at
letting her down.
He felt that all was lost and thus decided to run away.
In this manner, the misunderstanding abruptly brought to an end a sweet endearing
relationship. Kiran went home with her family, while Nilkanta had become a
castaway again. Nilkanta stole Satishs inkstand and Kiran came to know the truth,
Towards evening the storm was at its height. --- You might think that a battle of
the gods and demons was raging in the skies. Black clouds waved like the Flags of
Doom. The Ganges was lashed into a fury, and the trees of the gardens on either
bank swayed from side to side with sighs and groans with the terrific downpour of
rain, the crash of thunder, and the repeated flashes of lightning.

Desperate revenge against Satish; Nilkanta stole his favourite inkstand. All fingers
were pointed at him. Kiran was distressed at the accusations made on Nilkanta. She
was filled with pity for him. She was positive that he had not stolen Satishs
inkstand and refused to allow the boy to be cross-examined. She got two new suits
of clothes and a pair of shoes for the homeless lad. She wanted to give them as a
gift to him, along with a banknote.
Holdover, when she opened the box she found it to be in a mess. She decided then
to take out the contents from the box Kiran was puzzled and did not know how to
react! In the meantime Nilkanta, who had come into the room without Kiran
noticing, saw the whole thing and thought that she had come to spy on him. HOW
THROW INTO THE RIVER AT FIRST CHANCE? In a weak moment he had put it in his
box instead. He was not a thief, his heart cried out, not a thief! then what was
he? What could he say? He had stolen, and yet he was not thief! HE COULD NEVER
The Castaway by Rabindranath Tagore is a brilliant depiction of an adolescents
Tagore has very beautifully and sensitively captured the emotional
turbulence that the young orphan Nilkanta undergoes while craving for the affection
of Kiran, the woman who gives him shelter. The story is a skilful description of the
upper-class Bengali lifestyle.
Before joining Kirans family, Nilkanta lived an unorganized life. The lack of physical
and emotional security had not allowed his personality to develop to its fullest. Due
to his short stature, he was not given the respect due to a seventeen-year-old boy.
The vitality, kindness and generosity of Kiran aroused emotions in Nilkanta and he
responded with feelings to it. He began to fantasise about Kiran and defied her
husband by stealing mangoes despite his beatings. He became extremely
possessive of Kiran and here forth craved for her undivided attention. In his
jealousy, however, he forgot his place and over-raced himself by stealing the
inkstand. He was ashamed at becoming a thief in her eyes and could not bear the
thought of letting her down and so he ran away, the story skillfully depicts how
class-consciousness or absence of it can affect peoples nature, their thought
processes and behavoiur towards others.
The Castaway is a story on human nature, feelings and emotions. It has a moving
portrayal of an orphan who literally became castaway, had lost his companions in
the storm and had come to live with a family. The boy had led an unsettled life due
to which he was in a state of underdevelopment. He was an opportunist and

mischievous. He had found shelter with a wealthy family in a riverside villa and
began to take advantage of it. He delved deep into the luxuries that the house
offered and often got his ears boxed and pulled by Sharat. He, however, did not
mind it, as harsh experiences had taught him that life was made of eatings and
beatings. Thus, not only Nilkanta was a castaway in the world but also emotionally
castaway from his host.
Kiran, on the other hand, was not bothered about such things. Kiran and Satish were
of the same age; and between them, time passed pleasantly in games and quarrels.
They would play pranks on each other and share a good laughter. They had a typical
sister and brother-in-law relationship. It was not as if she had forgotten about
Nilkanta but, being the one to enjoy good company, she wanted to make the most
of Satishs stay for the vacations. She was oblivious to Nilkantas suffering while she
engaged most of her time with Satish in harmless playfulness. Nilkanta thought that
he was castaway from Kirans favour.
-----------He would then put out the lamp in his room and throw himself on his bed in
the darkness, burying his head in the pillow in a paroxysm sobs. What was his
grievance? Against whom? And from whom did he expect redress? At last, when
none else came, Mother Sleep soothed with her soft caresses the WOUNDED HEART
..Kiran, with flushed face, sat down helplessly with the
inkstand in her hand, puzzled and wondering.
Sharat punished Nilkanta for his undesirable behavior, especially when the
neighbours complained against him. Sharat did not want his name and stature to be
spoilt among the neighbourhood. When Satishs inkstand was stolen, he
immediately pointed his finger at Nilkanta because he thought that being povertystricken and unbalanced; he must have been tempted to steal. Sharat would have
cross-examined him, had his wife was not interfered. Nilkanta took advantage of
Kirans affections and delved deep in the riches of the family. This made Nilkanta
emotionally also castaway from the rest of her family. ----------When none else came,
Mother Sleep soothed with her soft caresses the WOUNDED HEART OF THE
Like a rudderless boat, the discussion kept turning round and round the same point;
and at last it threatened to be overwhelmed in a flood of tears__________------ What
was his grievance? Against whom? And from whom did he expect redress?
HEART WOULD BREAK- At last, when none else came, Mother Sleep soothed with

Original Story-Rabindranath Tagore[Except Setting, and Additional of a few words and autobiographical word, Ideas,
Decorum and Irony, Style, Circumstantial Metaphors;]- Words and sentences and
chronological pattern with magnanimous beauty and decorum of the story from the
original story of Tagore with reference to also Xavier Pinto and an anthology of short
I wonder, am afraid to find out what happened really to Nilkanta.
Life is such, also sometimes a complete mirage of an exploration to an
adolescents psyche, a mirror of mind that oscillates to be broken in perhaps more
than a thousand pieces that are full of emotional themes, and the depiction of a
rural or an urban life. The train would hault a full ten minutes and then a bell would
sound, the guard would blow his whistle, and presently a small railway station
Deoli while on way to Dehra would be left behind and forgotten.
(Ideas and
Self-thought from Anthology and Ruskin Bonds The Night Train At Deoli.)
My Personal Thought: I was highly been ousted when I led myself to be settled
nowhere what could be happened to this homeless young lad Nilkanta. The
depiction of the sketch of this protagonist-boy by the author Rabindranath Tagore
through his wonderful pen-picture therefore left upon the readers. The story has far
enough a gracious touch to the encountered beauty of an adolescents psyche, on a
journey of life There are on the outskirts of the story in the social outlook enoughsuch categorical -adolescents psyche be noted perhaps to whom do we not
understand, as such making number of mistakes in life from bothsides, but upon
whom in an unnecessary way therefore we are showing our grievances? What is to
be done? |||

The Castaway is an apt title therefore, for the story depicts how the reckless
stormy Nilkanta delved into the Flags of Doom swaying from side to side with sighs
and groans in the repeated crashes and flashes of lightening in his own abstract
exploring life becomes ultimately a castaway, both physically and, as well as

Rituparna Ray Chaudhuri