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Ch. 20: Publishing

My writings so far had been confined to the family circle. Then was started the monthly called the Gyanankur, Sprouting Knowledge, and, as befitted its name it secured an embryo poet as one of its contributors. It began to publish all my poetic ravings indiscriminately, and to this day I have, in a corner of my mind, the fear that, when the day of judgment comes for me, some enthusiastic literary police-agent will institute a search in the inmost zenana of forgotten literature, regardless of the claims of privacy, and bring these out before the pitiless public gaze.

My first prose writing also saw the light in the pages of the Gyanankur. It was a critical essay and had a bit of a history.

A book of poems had been published entitled Bhubanmohini Pratibha.[37] Akshay Babu in the Sadharani and Bhudeb Babu in the Education Gazette hailed this new poet with effusive acclamation. A friend of mine, older than myself, whose friendship dates from then, would come and show me letters he had received signed Bhubanmohini. He was one of those whom the book had captivated and used frequently to send reverential offerings of books or cloth[38] to the address of the reputed authoress.

Some of these poems were so wanting in restraint both of thought and language that I could not bear the idea of their being written by a woman. The letters that were shown to me made it still less possible for me to believe in the womanliness of the writer. But my doubts did not shake my friend's devotion and he went on with the worship of his idol.

Then I launched into a criticism of the work of this writer. I let myself go, and eruditely held forth on the distinctive features of lyrics and other short poems, my great advantage being that printed matter is so unblushing, so impassively unbetraying of the writer's real attainments. My friend turned up in a great passion and hurled at me the threat that a B.A. was writing a reply. A B.A.! I was struck speechless. I felt the same as in my younger days when my nephew Satya had shouted for a policeman. I could see the triumphal pillar of argument, erected upon my nice distinctions, crumbling before my eyes at the merciless assaults of authoritative quotations; and the door effectually barred against my ever showing my face to the reading public again. Alas, my critique, under what evil star wert thou born! I spent day after day in the direst suspense. But, like Satya's policeman, the B.A. failed to appear.

[37] This would mean "the genius of Bhubanmohini" if that be taken as the author's name.

[38] Gifts of cloth for use as wearing apparel are customary by way of ceremonial offerings of affection, respect or seasonable greeting.

Rabindranath Tagore