View Full Version : Tagore's The Post Office : A profile

Dipen Guha
12-31-2009, 03:13 AM
A gentle and moving play, "The Post Office" tells us the story of a young boy, Amal. The play is set in the early 20th century rural Bengal. It is the poignant story of a childless man who has adopted Amal, who has been claimed by an incurable illness. The boy, innocent of what the loss of life means, is caught in the flurry of life outside the window of his room where he is confined. He touches the lives of people passing outside the window. With the world at his doorstep, Amal is happy in the fertile world of imagination, and is willing, when the time comes, to journey from this world to the next. A bedridden child, Amal yearns for the outside world. His doctor would shut out the world for him if he could. Consequently, he is elated at the news of a postoffice coming up in the neighbourhood. Would the King send a letter to him, he wonders, or, could he not become the King's postman and carry messages to the end of the world? The adults that he comes into contact with whet his appetite for the world at large and trigger his imagination. At the end of the play, we find Amal falling asleep, and Shudha--the little girl who promised to bring flowers for him--comes back to hm and says to the Royal Physician, "Tell him, 'Sudha has not forgotten you' "
Tagore himself explaines the intended meaning of the play to his friend C.F. Andrews in this way :
Amal represents the man whose soul has received the call of the open road. But there is the post office in front of his little window, and Amal waits for the King's letter to come to him direct from the King's own physician and that which is death to the world of hoarded wealth and certified creeds brings him awakening in the world of spiritual freedom. The only thing that accompanies him in his awakening is the flower of love given to him by Shudha. [ Dutta and Robinson]

Dipen Guha
01-11-2010, 02:34 PM
of all the plays written by Rabindranath, "The Post Office" continues to occupy a special place--both within and outside India; it has been translated into almost all major European languages and produced in different ways. In 1921, for example, the play was performed in Berlin, where the young Elisabeth Bergner, the famous German actress, played the role of Amal. However, the two most famous performances of the play abroad take us to the days of the Word War II, when the Nazi atrocities were at their height in Europe. Janus Korczac, the eminent Polish writer and educator, who was posthumously awarded the German Peace Prize, headed an orphanage at the Warsaw Ghetto. Despite offers from his friends, he did not agree to the proposal to leave the ghetto leaving the children behind. Refuting the Nazi order for the jews not to perform plays by the "Aryan" authors, he produced " The Post Office" with the children at the ghetto on 15 July 1942. Asked to reveal why he chose this play, Korczac said that " eventually one had to learn to accept serenely the angel of death" [ Dutta and Robinson]. Earlier, in june 1940, the night before Paris fell to the Nazi Germany, Andre Gide's translation of the play was read over Radio France. The fact that "The Post Office" was chosen on both these occasions proves beyond doubt the power of the play: it teaches mankind how to deal with the ruthless onslaught of death, especially when it is perceived that death is meaningless and bizarre. It may be recalled in this context that Korczac and his children were put to death by the Nazi rulers immediately after the performance of "the Post Office".