About Me

header ads

Rabindranath Tagore’s Monihara

Rabindranath Tagore is the greatest writer in modern Indian literature, his family were pioneers of the Bengal renaissance and they combined traditional culture and western ideas. Tagore was born in Kolkata in an affluent and prominent family. Tagore, in his early years was taught by tutors and then sent to different schools. He studied Law in University College, London but left after a year without completing his studies. He released his first collection of poems at the age of 17. He collected folklores and local legends in Bangladesh and wrote 7 books on poetry from 1893 to 1900. He founded a school outside of Kolkata, Visva-Bharati, it became a university in 1921.

Rabindranath Tagore has written several short stories, one of those stories is “MONIHARA” or “THE LOST JEWELS”. The main theme of the story is excessive greed, hallucinations due to guilt which gives this story a haunting miasma. The story revolves around Bhushan Saha and his wife Manimalika or Mani, Bhushan is a silk merchant who is very concerned about his image among the people of his town and his wife Mani is a woman who is obsessed with jewellery, Bhushan who is in love with is wife has spoiled her with jewellery to an extent that she loves her jewellery more than her husband. In this story an ordinary man sitting on the banks of a river notices another stranger staring at a dilapidated mansion on the other side of the river bank. He starts asking the man “where are you from?” “why are you here?” “where are you staying?” etc.  After introducing one another the man starts narrating the story of the unfortunate couple who used to live in that dilapidated mansion. According to the man when Bhushan was facing financial trouble due to his silk shipment being hijacked by pirates, he asks his wife to use the jewellery as mortgage for loan but Mani being obsessed with her jewellery gets scared that she will never get them back so she refuses to let him use it. Disappointed with his wife, Bhushan leaves for Calcutta to arrange enough money to support his business. While away on business Mani becomes paranoid and asks her ravening cousin Modhu for advice, he suggests her to leave with him and go back to her father’s house with her jewels. When Bhushan successfully returns he finds no trace of his wife and sends a messenger to fetch her from her father’s house who informs him that she never reached there, distressed Bhushan contacts police and a full-blown search is started but neither she nor Madhu are found. Guilty Bhushan hallucinates about his wife 3 nights in a row and on the 3rd night when suddenly awakened from the dream he finds himself in the ghat, due to the shock he slips head first into the water and drowns. After finishing his story, the man asks the stranger whether he believes in the story, the stranger then says that no he doesn’t as there are several errors and informs the man that his name is Bhushan Saha and his wife’s name was Nitya Kali.

In the conclusion of the story Rabindranath Tagore quite cleverly points out that the man who has been patiently listening was Bhushan Saha himself in his ghost form and that one of the errors were the name that man was using for his wife “Mani” was actually “Nitya Kali”. This story is a very famous one among those written by Tagore, it was adapted to a screenplay version by many directors one of them being the famous “Satyajit Ray”. It is a haunting yet a very relatable story and a story every one should read at least once. 

By: Tunnisha Das Gupta (FullFry)