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Crisscrossing Through Afro-Asian Literature

Crisscrossing Through Afro-Asian Literature

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Crisscrossing Through Afro-Asian Literature

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749 pages
11 heures
Oct 3, 2017


Crisscrossing Through Afro-Asian Literature is intended to give the reader varied views of life in the Afro-Asian sphere. 

It hopes to help the reader capture the nuances of the human experience that well from the vast wealth of wisdom and culture in these countries.

Oct 3, 2017

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Crisscrossing Through Afro-Asian Literature - Rustica C. Carpio



Afro-Asian Literature

Edited by


Crisscrossing Through Afro-Asian Literature

by Rustica C. Carpio

Copyright to this digital edition © 2006 by

Anvil Publishing, Inc.

Rustica C. Carpio

All rights reserved.

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of the author and the publisher.

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ISBN  9789712729195 (e-book)

Version 1.0.1

To the memory of my Parents

Leon Jose S. Carpio


Maria C. Carpio

who early in my life had imbibed

in me the upholding,

unfolding of the value like love for

the true, the beautiful, and the noble.


Acropolis Books for My Country, Ethiopia from Queen of Sheba’s Heirs by Edith Lord.

George Allen and Unwin Ltd. for Excerpts from The Sigiri Graffiti, translated by S. Paranavitana and W.G. Archer; for The Story of the Lay Devotee by Dharmasena translated by D.E. Hettiaratchi and C.B. Cooke from An Anthology of Sinhalese Literature, Christopher Reynolds, ed.

American Bible Society for Chapter IV of "The Song of Solomon" from The Holy Bible.

Asia Magazine for The Cock by Tao Kim Hai, translated by Ruth Barber.

Atlantic Monthly Company for The Sorrow of Kodio, translated by Miriam Koshland, recorded by Leon G. Damas.

Cirilo F. Bautista for Danak-Bunga Beach, Zambales and The Pineapple Man.

Collier-Macmillan Ltd. for The African World-View from a speech by Dr. K.A. Busia from African Heritage, Jacob Drachler, ed.

Columbia University Press for The Reed Cutter, by Kanze Motokiyo Zeami, translated by James O’ Brian from Twenty Plays of the Noh Theatre, edited by Donald Keene with the assistance of Royall Tyler.

Daisy Honteveros-Avellana for the adaptation of The New Yorker in Tondo.

Ophelia A. Dimalanta for Amarantha.

Duke University Press for I, the Kazakh Song, Am Singing by Mukhtar Auezov; for My Love by Tahir Dzaruqov from The Oral Art and Literature of the Kazakhs of Russian Central Asia by Thomas G. Winner.

East African Publishing House for My Husband’s Tongue Is Bitter by Okot p’ Bitek from Song of Lawino by Okot p’ Bitek.

Edition Seghers for I Give You Thanks My God by Bernard Dadie, translated by Donatus Ibe Nwoga from West African Verse by Donatus Ibe Nowga.

Heirs of Anacleta M. Encarnacion for edited version of Shadow and Solitude.

Everywoman’s Library for The Tale of Savitri from The Ramayanan and Mahabharata, Ernest Rhys, ed.

Faber and Faber Limited for A Meeting in the Dark by James Ngugi from Modern African Stories, Ellis Ayitey Komey and Ezekiel Mphahlele, eds.

Fawcett Publications, Inc. for The Hymn to the Sun by Pharaoh Akhenaton, translated by J.E. Manchip White; for The Lonely Traveller by Kwesi Brew; for New Life by Joseph E. Kariuki; for Song of a Common Lover by Flavien Ranaivo, translated by Alan Ryder; for Piano and Drums by Gabriel Okara from 3000 Years of Black Poetry, Alan Lomax and Raoul Abdul, eds.

Flamingo Magazine for A Man Can Try by Eldred Durosimi Jones; for Coffee for the Road by Alex La Guma.

Fontana Books for A Day Off by Anthony M. Hokororo from More Voices of Africa, Barbara Nolen, ed.

Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. for The Food of Paradise by Ibn Amjed from The Book of Oriental Literature, The Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, ed.

Heinemann Educational Books Ltd. for Excerpts from Woyengi recorded by Gabriel Okara from The Imprisonment of Obatala and Other Plays by Obutunde Ijimere, English adaptation by Ulli Beier.

Hill and Wang for Excerpts from Manohra translated by Ubol Bhukkanasul; for The Price of Wine, Josephine Huang Hung, translator from Traditional Asian Plays, James R. Brandon, ed.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston for Odes by Hafiz, translated by R.M. Rehder; for Excerpts from the Koran, translated by A.J. Arberry from An Anthology of Islamic Literature by James Kritzeck; for In Vain by Chairil Anwar, translated by Burton Raffel and Nurdin Salam; for Instant Justice, by Tewfic Al-Hakim, translated by A.S. Eban from Modern Islamic Literature from 1800 to the Present, with an Introduction and commentaries by James Kritzeck.

Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike for Chapter 2 of Toads for Supper by Chukwuemeka Ike.

Intercultural Publications, Inc. for Parting by Walujati, translated by Burton Raffle and Nurdin Salam; for Oh … Oh … Oh! by Idrus, translated by James S. Holmes and Hans van Marle from Perspective of Indonesia (An Atlantic Monthly Supplement).

Japan Publications Trading Co., Ltd. for The Mole by Kawabata Yasunari from Modern Japanese Short Stories, E.G. Seidensticker, translator.

Margaret M. Kardell for Silvery Beach by Nu Yin; for This Earth, This Man by Maung Htwe Aung; for The Green Barbet by Prof. U. E. Maung; all translated by The Most Rev. Friedrich V. Lustig from Burmese Poems through the Ages.

Alfred A. Knopf for Drinking Alone in the Moonlight by Li Po, translated by Florence Ayscough and Amy Lowell; for The Little Rain, by Tu Fu, translated by M. Cranmer-Byng; Tanka by an unknown author, translated by Curtis Hidden Page from Poetry of the Orient, Eunice Tiekjens, ed.

Korea Journal and Kim T’ae-gil for The Changing Morals of Korean Students by Kim T’ae-gil.

Lund Humphries Publishers, Ltd. for The Negative Truth about Me’ by Ma’ruf al-Rusafi; for Wishes by Mahmud Darwish; for To a Dead One by Nizar Qabbani; for A Stranger by Abd al Majid Ben Jallun; for Pot-Smoking by Muhammad al-Arusi al Matwi; for The Morrow by Mustafa Lufti al-Manfaluti from Modern Arabic Literature 1800- 1970 by John A. Haywood.

McGraw-Hill Book Company for Chapter One of Death Had Two Sons by Yael Dayan.

John Murray Publishers for Ghazal No. 10 by Muhammad Iqbal, translated by V.G. Kiernan; for Till Heart’s End by Chayasis Sunthonphiphit, translated by James N. Mosel and Burton Raffel from The Mentor Book of Modern Asian Literature, Dorothy Blair, ed.

National Historical Commission and Director Esteban de Ocampo for The Sense of the Beautiful by Jose Rizal, translated by Encarnacion Alzona from Writings of Jose Rizal, Rizal’s Prose, Volume III, Book Two.

National Institute for Compilation and Translation for Jar by Hsiung Hung, translated by Yang Mu; for Homecoming by Lin Huai-min; for The Plaza by Hsu Ta-jan, translated by Ch’en Chu-yun from An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Literature Taiwan, Vols. 1 and 2.

The New American Library, Inc. for Rabindranath Tagore by Niyamat Hussain, translated by Pritish Nandy; for Green Nostalgia by Nguyen Thu Me, translated by Nguyen Ngoc Bich and Oliver Rice from Voices of Modern Asia, Dorothy Blair Shimer, ed.

Aziz Nesin for American Guests Come to Our House from Two Stories by Aziz Nesin; Craig Nole, translator.

The New American Library of World Literature, Inc. for To a Basketball Player by Muhammad Qassim, translated by Desmond Stewart in collaboration with Ali Haidar Al-Rikabi from New World Writing.

Outrigger Publishers Ltd. for Fear by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar; for Four-Leaf Clover by Behcet Necatigil; for The Love of Hamisi and Hadija, translated by Jan Knappert from The New Quarterly Cave.

Oxford University Press for Totem by Leopold Sedar Senghor from Leopold Sedar Senghor: Assimilation or Negritude? For Africa" by David Diop from Seven African Writers by Gerald Moore.

Penguin Books Ltd. for a tanka by Ito Sachio; for three haikus by Basho, Hana Sekitei and Matsumoto Takashi; for three modern senryus; for Bedraggled Ostrich by Takamura Kotaro; for Star and Dead Leaves by Tsuboi Shigeji; for "Beach Rainbow by Takahashi Shinkichi from The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse, Geoffrey Bownas and Anthony Thwaite, translators.

Praeger Publishers, Inc. and O Yong-su for Nami and the Taffyman by O Yong-su translated by Marshall R. Pihl from Listening to Korea, edited by Marshall Pihl.

Random House for Excerpts from The Red Lantern from China on Stage by Lois Wheeler Snow.

Schocken Books for Excerpts from Songs and Prayers by Mordekai Temkin from Modern Hebrew Literature by Simon Halkin.

Rolando S. Tinio and La Tondeña, Inc.’s Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for A Life in the Slums.

Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. for three essays from Essays in Idleness from Anthology of Japanese Literature, compiled and edited by Donald Keene, for The Ribs and the Cover from Japanese Folk-Plays, Shio Sakanishi, translator.

The University of Arizona Press for Sijo by Hwang Chin-i, translated by Peter H. Lee; for From the Sea to Children by Ch’oe Nam-son from Korean Literature: Topics and Themes by Peter H. Lee.

University of California Press for Excerpts from The Mwindo Epic, Daniel Biabuyck and Kahombo C. Mateene, editors and translators.

University of Iowa Press for Flower in a Classic Whisper by Chon Pong-gon from Contemporary Korean Poetry, compiled and translated by Ko Won.

University of Washington Press for Excerpts from The Song on Human Action by Saraha, translated by Herbert V. Guenther from The Royal Song of Saraha, translated and annotated by Herbert V. Guenther.

Visva-Bharati for Mahamaya by Rabindranath Tagore from The Runway and Other Stories.

Prefatory Note

Time and again, in man’s quest for the true, the good, the beautiful, he finds fulfillment and satisfaction so indescribable yet quite discernible. In this search, this reaching out to grasp what he wants, he discovers himself dazed, bewitched, entrenched amongst a plethora of moods and thoughts and emotion unfolded through the wonders of word. Then there is joy, there is delight as the encompassing magic of literature unfurls before his being in the inexhaustible depth of poetry, the filigreed web of fiction, the realistic profundity or the cursory tint of an essay and the gripping immediacy of the drama.

In man’s striving for truth, literature provides avenues for unlocking certain treasure troves of human expression and creative urges. As shades of feelings and passions are acutely delineated, man soars to gothic heights.

Man’s capacity for greatness is conveyed not through prurience, but through the entelechy of the literary genius. CRISSCROSSING THROUGH AFRO-ASIAN LITERATURE is designed to draw what August Strindberg means when he says that man should not falter in his search for truth, though truth be threatened by the human craving for happiness, the habit of wishing.

If it be accurate and valid as it is in the criticism of Hegel and Taine that historical or social greatness is equated with artistic greatness, then it can be safely stated that, indeed, the artist, the writer, conveys truth which is also historical and social.

For a writer expresses his own truths, his own experiences, his total conception of life; hence, he shares with his reader the life of his own time, of his own age and social milieu. The primacy of literary works is stressed by and in these lines:

… they are instructive because they are beautiful; their utility grows with their perfection; and if they furnish documents it is because they are monuments. The more a book brings sentiments into light, the more it is a work of literature; for the proper office of literature is to make sentiments visible. The more a book represents important sentiments, the higher is its place in literature; for it is by representing the mode of being of a whole nation and a whole age that a writer rallies around him the sympathies of an entire nation …

Indeed, a writer works amidst uncertainties to dissect life’s breadth and depth, to keep the cultural stream flowing from pole to pole, from age to age. His concern is not only purely personal but global. His vehicle forges an affinity which is universal.

When man becomes conscious through literature that he inhabits a world of plural cultures, then he would be aware of the meaning of tolerance and allowance. He can evaluate himself better when etched against a social backdrop of a heterogeneous nature, when brought side by side with men of other races and climes, when juxtaposed with other people in a horizon broadened by human relationships and interactions.

CRISSCROSSING THROUGH AFRO-ASIAN LITERATURE is intended to give the reader varied views of life in the Afro-Asian sphere. It hopes to help the reader capture the nuances of the human experience that well from the vast wealth of wisdom and culture in these countries. For now, more than ever, there is an awareness that the culture currents crisscrossing Asia and Africa are vital in the interweaving of cultural enhancement necessary in world integration for better understanding.

In selecting the literary pieces included in this volume, the editors sought materials which truly represent the countries, the cultures, the very lifestyles of the people.

Selections which include the ancient and the contemporary are grouped in four units—fiction, poetry, drama, essay—each prefaced by introductory explanations. A brief note on the author, when available, precedes each selection and in some cases, particularly under fiction, a summary of the novel is given and under drama, a plot summation is sometimes included to bring clarity to the excerpt that follows.

Explanatory notes are provided to give ample background information to the selections arranged by countries from Asia to Africa in an alphabetical equence. The discussion questions, on the other hand, put into focus literary analysis and aid the student in understanding the literary pieces in the context of the genre they belong to and the countries they represent.

In evaluating the different works, the reader may seek pleasure in artistic details, delve into special doctrines, seek escape or find clarity and meaning in certain aspects of living. Or, he may wish to look for effects through the insight of the personality of each writer. But whatever end is achieved, it can be said that literature has functioned successfully for the notes of pleasure and usefulness coalesce to engender joy of the highest level.

Sincere gratitude is due to all those who helped in the preparation of this anthology, I thank: Ms. Cora Itable who helped in the gathering of materials; Sylvia Punzalan and Marietta Quindara who encoded the text from the manuscript; Ms. Jo Pantorillo for the overall help in putting the book into a whole piece; the publications where the materials saw print; Ms. Karina Bolasco, ANVIL PUBLISHING editor; and most especially to the publisher of ANVIL PUBLISHING and its mother, the ever-assiduous, ever-understanding, ever-charming Mrs. Socorro C. Ramos, the entrepreneur of all entrepreneurs. Added to this is my gratitude for the grace of God Almighty and His all-flowing gift of energy, dedication, and devotion to what is true, good, noble and beautiful.



Prefatory Note


Rabindranath Tagore, Mahamaya

Idrus, Oh … Oh … Oh …

Kawabata Yasunari, The Mole

O Yong-su, Nami and the Taffy Man

Dharmasena, The Story of a Lay Devotee

Lin Huai-min, Homecoming

Tao Kim Hai, The Cock

Ibn Amjed, The Food of Paradise

Yael Dayan, From Death Had Two Sons

Aziz Nesin, American Guests Come to Our House

Tewfik al-Hakim, Instant Justice

James Ngugi; A Meeting in the Dark

Abd al-Majid Ben Jallun, The Stranger

Chukwuemeka Ike, From Toads for Supper

Eldred Durosimi Jones, A Man Can Try

Alex La Guma, Coffee for the Road

Anthony M. Hokororo, A Day off

Muhammad al-Arusi al-Matwi, Pot-smoking


Niyamat Hussain, Rabindranath Tagore

Nu Yin, Silvery Beach

Maung Htwe Aung, This Earth, This Man

U.E. Maung, The Green Barbet

Li Po, Drinking Alone in the Moonlight

Tu Fu, The Little Rain

Hsiung Hung, Jar 1

Chairil Anwar, In Vain

Walujati, Parting

Unknown Author, Ito Sachio, Wakayama Bokusui, Three Tankas

Basho, Hara Sekitet, Matsumoto Takashi,Three Haikus

Unknown Authors, Three Modern Senryus

Takamura Kotaro Bedraggled Ostrich

Tsuboi Shigeji, Star and Dead Leaves

Tsakahashi Shinkichi, Beach Rainbow

Hwang Chin-i, Sijo

Ch’oe Nam-son, From The Sea to Children

Chan Pong-gon, Flower in a Classic Whisper

Muhammad Iqbal, Ghazal No. 10

Cirilo F. Bautista, Danak-Bunga Beach, Zambales

Cirilo F. Bautista, The Pineapple Man

Ophelia A. Dimalanta Amarantha

Excerpts from The Sigiri Graffiti

Chayasi Sunthonphiphit, Till Heart’s End

Saraha, From The Song on Human Action

Nguyen Thu Le, Green Nostalgia

Hafiz, Odes

From The Song of Solomon

Mordekai Temkin, From Songs and Prayers

Mohammed, From The Koran

The Forenoon

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Fear

BehcetNecatigil, Four-Leaf Clover

Mukhtar Auezov, I, the Kazakh Song, Am Singing

Tahir Dzarugov, My Love

From The Love of Hamisi and Hadija

Pharaoh Akhenaton, The Hymn to the Sun

Anonymous, My Country, Ethiopia

Kwesi Brew The Lonely Traveller

Bernard Dadie, I Give You Thanks My God

Joseph E. Kariuki, New Life

Flavien Ranaivo, Song of a Common Lover

Gabriel Okara, Piano and Drums

Okot p’Bitek, My Husband’s Tongue Is Bitter

David Diop, Africa

Excerpts from The Mwindo Epic

Muhammad Qassim, To a Basketball Player

Mahmud Danwish, Wishes

Nizar Qabbani, To a Dead One

Baule Tribe, The Sorrow of Kodio

Leopold Sedar Senghor, Totem

The Tale of Savitri from the Mahabharata


Chinese Theater

Author Anonymous, The Price of Wine

Japanese Noh Theater

Kanze Motokiyo Zeami, The Reed Cutter

Japan’s Kyogen

The Ribs and the Cover

Thailand’s Lakon Jatri

Excerpts from Manohra

African Theater

Obotunde Ijimere, Woyengi

Rustica C. Carpio, Theater-through the Ages

Marceino M. Agana Jr. as adapted by Daisy H. Avellana, The New Yorker in Tondo

Claro M. Recto, Shadow and Solitude edited by Anacleta M. Encarnacion

Rolando S. Tinio A Life in the Slums


Yoshida Kenko, From Essays In Idleness

Kim T’ae-gil, The Changing Morals of Korean Students

Jose Rizal, The Sense of the Beautiful

Hsu Ta-jan, The Plaza

Anacleta R. Encarnacion, This City is in the Heart: A Lingering Melody

Mustafa Lufti al-Manfaluti, The Morrow

K.A. Busia, The African World-View


Man and his world surface prominently in the literary creations of fictionists. Reflected in their art is society, its many fabrics, its varied textures for it is a mirror carried along a highroad. One moment it will reflect into your eyes the azure of heaven; the next, mire in the potholes along the road.

The virtual universe of a fictionist is a recreation of his external world. Thus, he articulates in his art factors generally circumscribed by his social milieu. Underpinning his works is a concern to grasp reality—the global upheavals, a group’s striving for societal change, an individual’s yearnings for life’s little joys or upward mobility—now resounding with success, now muted by failures. But continuously delineating the constant flux is an effort to make his prose cavort with the solid facts.

Always, the fictionist, be he a novelist or a short story writer, aims to realistically spotlight life’s nettled complexities, the erratic changeable hues tinting the sphere, of man, the barometric ups and downs of his feelings congealed by deep seated socio-cultural disparities or ignited by his inner civil strifes. The writer while giving expression to his own personal world, creates and molds for us a world based on our actual world. Our understanding of the interpenetration of this triad of worlds triggers our appreciation of fiction. We respond to a piece of fiction if we are able to crouch out of our shell and inhabit, however momentarily, the imaginative world fashioned by the author. So, one world must relate to the other to be meaningful, one world must have relevance to the other to be comprehended and understood.

Consequently, the interweaving of persons, places, and actions in fiction is flashed to us through the eyes of the writer in a first-person point of view or through the observation of another, at times in a photographic manner, capturing whatever is registered by the camera eye at times in an omniscient stance, but as a third person, an outsider looking in.

Through those authorial handlings, our reflections are stamped in the created verbal microcosm. Our own struggles, our clashes of interests, our friendly ties, even the biting coldness of indifference, we in turn relish as we follow them wending their way into the interstices of the narrative. We are lured to tears, to laughter, to anger, to fear. Because we enjoy what we read, because we bend to the truth of fiction.

This truth, so aptly delineated by Brooks and Warren, involves the consistency and comprehensibility of character, the motivation and credibility of action, the acceptability of the total meaning.

Truly, fiction is not just a melange of words and people and places. Neither is it a filigreed web of events and happenings springing forward at the magic touch of the writer’s pen. It is more than these. For it has to be moored to the world of our experience.

Who people our day-to-day world? A congeries of men—each one distinctly different from the other, We know them by their language, their gestures, their facades and integument. We recognize them through their venues and surroundings, their goals or purposes in living and the corresponding outcomes. In fiction’s domain, these are grasped dramatically by the writer who is ever observant of the whimsicalities of human nature.

Like life, the story or the novel is tenuous without conflict. It is this force, this tug-of-war, this collision, this instability that makes man aware of what it means to live, what it is to triumph or to suffer. Weed out struggle from man and he is transmogrified to a robot. Life pales to the insipidness of existence. Delete tension from the story and the plot falls limp, lifeless, no matter how inextricably knit is the concatenation of characters and movements.

Then again, interlacing the limitations of the short story or the novel’s epic proportion is an encompassing vision of life that lends full meaning and significance to the human experience. While moralizing is not always given overt primacy in fiction for it likewise enriches us with fun and pleasure and guffaws, at the end, even in comedy, there seeps through man’s frailties, through his striated roughness, a glimmer of human values.

All these are spread before us through the short story’s organic unity evolving one single impression, attitude or idea despite its brevity. The novel, with its panoramic scope, carries the burden of the universe in its chapters and episodes welded together by cohesiveness of ties and links.

These we realize even as we trail the progress of the narrative from the exposition to the motivation, petering out the rising action which swells to the complication. Suspense checkers the way to the tautness of the climax and finally the tousled situation is unravelled in the denouement.

As we read a story in its entirety or a novel from cover to cover, several things may markedly arrest our attention and in varying degrees. It may be the winsome coyness of a young Japanese girl or the strained, unrelieved atmosphere of an African setting. Or the strange satirical twists distilled from a Turkish humorous experience. The poetic prose that breathes life into an Arab encounter or an unnerving Asian family squabble.

Indeed, reading a novel or a story is leaving our world and entering the world of fiction. It is an exploration and a discovery.

RABINDRANATH TAGORE was born in Calcutta, State of Bengal, India in 1861 to a family known for wealth, position, learning and culture. Genius, mystic, poet, painter, composer, short story writer, novelist, playwright, actor, champion to the cause of modern science, he spearheaded the Indian Renaissance Movement which led to the attainment of independence. He was founder of Viswa Bharati University in Shantiniketan. Indians look up to Tagore as a cultural and national symbol, and his political philosophy is self-reliance. In 1913, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although a humanist and an internationalist, Tagore showed extreme nationalism for his country. He says, I shall be born in India again and again with all her poverty, misery and wretchedness, I love India best.


by Rabindranath Tagore

They met together in a ruined temple on the river bank: Mahamaya and Rajib. In silence she cast her naturally grave look at Rajib with a tinge of reproach. It meant to say: How durst you call me here at this unusual hour today? You have ventured to do it only because I have so long obeyed you in all things!

Rajib had a little awe of Mahamaya at all times, and now this look of hers thoroughly upset him. He at once gave up his fondly conceived plan of making a set speech to her. And yet he had to give quickly some reason for this interview. So, he hurriedly blurted out, I say, let us run away from this place and marry. True, Rajib thus delivered himself of what he had in his mind; but, the preface he had silently composed was lost. His speech sounded very dry and bald—even absurd. He himself felt confused after saying it, and had no power left in him to add some words to modify its effect. The fool! After calling Mahamaya to that ruined temple by the river side at midday, he could only tell her "Come, let us marry!

Mahamaya was a kulin’s daughter, twenty-four years old—in the full bloom of her youth and beauty, like an image of pure gold, of the hue of the early autumn sunlight; radiant and still as that sunshine, with a gaze free and fearless as daylight itself.

She was an orphan. Her elder brother, Bhavanicharan Chattopadhyay, looked after her. The two were of the same mould—taciturn, but possessing a force of character which burnt silently like the midday sun. People feared Bhavanicharan without knowing why.

Rajib had come there from afar with the Burra Sahib of the silk factory of the place. His father had served this Sahib, and when he died, the Sahib undertook to bring up his orphan boy and took him with himself to this Bamanhati factory. In those early days such instances of sympathy were frequent among the Sahibs. The boy was accompanied by his loving aunt, and they lived in Bhavanicharan’s neighbourhood. Mahamaya was Rajib’s playmate in childhood, and was dearly loved by his aunt.

Rajib grew up to be sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and even nineteen; and yet, in spite of his aunt’s constant urging, he refused to marry. The Sahib was highly pleased to hear of this uncommon instance of good sense in a Bengali youth, and imagined that Rajib had taken him as his ideal in life. I may here add that the Sahib was a bachelor. The aunt died soon after.

For Mahamaya, too, no bride groom of an equal grade of blue blood could be secured except for an impossible dowry. She steadily grew up in maidenhood.

The reader hardly needs to be told that though the god who ties the marriage-knot had so long been ignoring this young couple, the god who forms the bond of love had not been idle all this time. While old Prajapati was dozing, young Kandarpa was very much awake.

Kandarpa’s influence shows itself differently in different persons. Under his inspiration, Rajib constantly sought for a chance of whispering his heart’s longings, but Mahamaya never gave him such an opportunity; her silent and grave look sent a chill of fear through the wild heart of Rajib.

Today he had, by a hundred solemn entreaties and conjurations, at last succeeded in bringing her to this ruined temple. He had planned that he would today freely tell her all that he had to say and thereafter there would be for him either life-long happiness or death in life. Yet at this crisis of his fate Rajib could only—say, Come, let us go and marry, and then he stood confused and silent like a boy who had forgotten his lesson.

For a long while she did not reply, as if she had never expected such a proposal from Rajib.

The noontide has many undefined plaintive notes of its own; these began to make themselves heard in the midst of that stillness. The broken door of the temple, half detached from its hinge, began at times to open and to close in the wind with a low wailing creak. The pigeon, perched on the temple window, began its deep booming. The woodpecker kept up its monotonous noise as it sat working on the shimul branch outside. The lizard darted through the heaps of dry leaves with a rustling sound. A sudden gust of warm wind blowing from the fields paused through the trees, making all their foliage whistle. Of a sudden, the river waters woke into ripple and lapped on the broken steps of the ghat. Amidst these stray, languid sounds came the rustic notes of a cow-boy’s flute from a far-off tree-shade. Rajib stood reclining against the ruinous plinth of the temple like a tired dreamer, gazing at the river; he had not the spirit to look Mahamaya in the face.

After a while he turned his head and again cast a supplicating glance at Mahamaya’s face. She shook her head and replied, No, it can’t be.

At once the whole fabric of his hopes was dashed to the ground; for he knew that when Mahamaya shook her head it was through her own convictions, and nobody else in the world could bend her to his own will. The high pride of pedigree had run in the blood of Mahamaya’s family for untold generations—could she ever consent to marry a Brahmin of low pedigree like Rajib? To love is one thing, and to marry quite another. She, however, now realized that her own thoughtless conduct in the past had encouraged Rajib to hope so audaciously; and at once she prepared to leave the temple.

Rajib understood her, and quickly broke in with I am leaving these parts tomorrow.

At first she thought of appearing indifferent to the news but she could not. Her feet did not move when she wanted to depart. Calmly she asked, Why? Rajib replied, My Sahib has been transferred from here to the Sonapur factory, and he is taking me with him. Again she stood in long silence, musing thus: ‘Our lives are moving in two contrary directions. I cannot hope to keep a man a prisoner of my eyes for ever.’ So she opened her compressed lips a little and said, Very well. It sounded rather like a deep sigh.

With these words only, she was again about to leave, when Rajib started up with the whisper your brother!

She looked out and saw her brother coming towards the temple, and she knew that he had found out their assignation. Rajib, fearing to place Mahamaya in a false position, tried to escape by jumping out of the hole in the temple wall, but Mahamaya seized his arm and kept him back by main force. Bhavanicharan entered the temple and only cast one silent and placid glance at the pair.

Mahamaya looked at Rajib and said with an unruffled voice, Yes, I will go to your house, Rajib. Do you wait for me?

Silently Bhavanicharan left the temple, and Mahamaya followed him as silently. And Rajib? He stood amazed as if he had been doomed to death.


That very night Bhavanicharan gave a crimson silk sari to Mahamaya and told her to put it on at once. Then he said, Follow me. Nobody had ever disobeyed Bhavanicharan’s bidding or even his hint; Mahamaya herself was no exception to it.

That night the two walked to the burning-place on the river-bank, not far from their home. There in the hut for sheltering dying men brought to the holy river’s side, an old Brahmin was lying in expectation of death. The two went up to his bedside. A Brahmin priest was present in one corner of the room; Bhavanicharan beckoned to him. The priest quickly got his things ready for the happy ceremony. Mahamaya realized that she was to be married to this dying man, but she did not make the least objection. In the dim room, faintly lit up by the glare of two funeral pyres hard by, the muttered sacred texts mingled with the groans of the dying as Mahamaya’s marriage was celebrated.

The day following her marriage she became a widow. But she did not feel excessively grieved at the bereavement. And Rajib, too, was not so crushed by the news of her widowhood as he had been by the unexpected tidings of her marriage. Nay, he felt rather cheered. But this feeling did not last long. A second terrible blow laid him utterly in the dust; he heard that there was a grand ceremony at the burning ghat that day as Mahamaya was going to burn herself with her husband’s corpse.

At first he thought of informing his Sahib and forcibly stopping the cruel sacrifice with his help. But then he recollected that the Sahib had made over charge and left for Sonapur that very day; he had wanted to take Rajib with him, but the youth had stayed behind on a month’s leave.

Mahamaya had told him Wait for me. This request he must by no means disregard. He had at first taken a month’s leave, but if need were he would take two months, then three, months leave and finally throw up the Sahib’s service and live by begging, yet he would wait for her to his life’s close.

Just when Rajib was going to rush out madly and commit suicide or some other terrible deed, a deluge of rain came down with a desolating storm at sunset. The tempest threatened to tumble his house down on his head. He gained some composure when he found that the convulsion in outer nature was harmonizing with the storm within his soul. It seemed to him that all Nature had taken up his cause and was going to bring him some sort of remedy. The force he wish to apply in his own person but could not was now being applied by Nature herself over earth and sky.

At such a time some one pushed the door hard from outside. Rajib hastened to open it. A woman entered the room, clad in a wet garment, with a long veil covering her entire face. Rajib at once knew her for Mahamaya.

In a voice full of emotion he asked, "Mahamaya, have you come away from the funeral pyre?

She replied, Yes, I had promised you to come to your house. Here I am, to keep my word. But, Rajib, I am not exactly the same person, I am changed altogether. I am the Mahamaya of old in my mind only. Speak now, I can yet go back to the funeral pyre. But if you swear never to draw my veil aside, never to look on my face, then I, shall live in your house.

It was enough to get her back from the hand of Death; all other considerations vanished before it. Rajib promptly replied, Live here in any fashion you like; if you leave me I shall die.

Mahamaya said, Then come away at once. Let us go where your Sahib has gone on transfer.

Abandoning all his property in that house, Rajib went forth into the midst of the storm with Mahamaya. The force of the wind made it hard for them to stand erect; the gravel driven by the wind pricked their limb like buck shot. The two took to the open fields, lest the trees by the roadside should crash down on their heads. The violence of the wind struck them from behind, as if the tempest had torn the couple asunder from human habitations and was blowing them away on to destruction.


The reader must not discredit my tale as false or supernatural. There are traditions of a few such occurrences having taken place in the days when the burning of widows was customary.

Mahamaya had been bound hand and foot and placed on the funeral pyre, to which fire was applied at the appointed time. The flames had shot up from the pile, when a violent storm and rainshower began. Those who had come to conduct the cremation quickly fled for refuge to the hut for dying men and shut the door. The rain put the funeral fire out in no time. Meantime, the bands on Mahamaya’s wrists had been burnt to ashes, setting her hands free. Without uttering a groan amidst the intolerable pain of burning, she sat up and untied her feet. Then wrapping round herself her partly burnt cloth, she rose half-naked from the pyre and first came to her own house. There was no one there; all had gone to the burning ghat. She lighted a lamp, put on a fresh cloth, and looked at her face in a glass. Dashing the mirror down on the ground, she mused for a while. Then, she drew a long veil over her face and went to Rajib’s house which was hard by. The render knows what happened next.

True, Mahamaya now lived in Rajah’s house, but there was no joy in his life. It was not much, but only a simple veil that parted the one from the other. And yet that veil was eternal like death, but more agonizing than death itself because despair in time deadens the pang of death’s separation, while a living hope was being daily and hourly crushed by the separation, which that veil caused.

For one thing there was a spirit of motionless silence in Mahamaya from of old; and now the hush from within the veil appeared doubly unbearable. She seemed to be living within a winding sheet of death. This silent death clasped the life of Rajib and daily seemed to shrivel it up. He lost the Mahamaya whom he had known of old, and at the same time this veiled figure, ever sitting by his side, silently prevented him from enshrining in his life the sweet memory of her as she was in her girlhood. He brooded: ‘Nature has placed barrier enough between one human being and another. Mahamaya, in particular, has been born, like Karna of old, with a natural charm against all evil. There is an innate fence round her being. And now she seems to have been born a second time and come to me with a second line of fences round herself. Ever by my side, she yet has become so remote as to be no longer within my reach. I am sitting outside the inviolable circle of her magic and trying, with an unsatiated thirsty soul, to penetrate this thin but unfathomable mystery, as the stars wear out the hours night after night in the vain attempt to pierce the mystery of the dark Night with their sleepless, winkless, downcast gaze.’

Long did these two companionless lonely creatures thus pass their days together.

One night, on the tenth day of the new moon, the clouds withdrew for the first time in that rainy season and the moon showed herself. The motionless, moonlit night seemed to be sitting in a vigil by the head of the sleeping world. That night Rajib too had quitted his bed and sat gazing out of his window. From the heat-oppressed woodland, a peculiar scent and the lazy hum of the cricket were entering into his room. As he gazed, the sleeping tank by the dark rows of trees glimmered like a polished silver plate. It is hard to say whether man at such a time thinks any clearly defined thought. Only his heart rushes in a particular direction,—it sends forth an effusion of odour like the woodland, it utters a cricket hum like the night. What Rjib was thinking of I know not; but it seemed to him that that night all the old laws had been set aside; that day the rainy season’s night had drawn aside her veil of clouds, and this night looked silent, beautiful and grave like the Mahamaya of those early days. All the currents of his being flowed impetuously together towards that Mahamaya.

Like one moving in a dream, Rajib entered Mahamaya’s bedroom. She was asleep then.

He stood by her side and stooped down to gaze on her. The moonbeams had fallen on her face. But, Oh horror! Where was that face known of old? The flame of the funeral pyre, with its ruthless greedy tongue, had utterly licked away a part of the beauty from the left cheek of Mahamaya and left there only the ravages of its hunger.

Did Rajib start? Did a muffled cry escape from his lips? Probably so. Mahamaya woke up with a start and saw Rajib before her. At once she replaced her veil and stood erect, leaving her bed. Rajib knew that the thunderbolt was uplifted. He fell down before her—he clasped her feet, crying forgive me!

She answered not a word, she did not look back for a moment as she walked out of the room. She never came back, No trace of her was found anywhere. The silent fire of her anger at that unforgiving, eternal parting left all the remaining days of Rajib’s life branded with a long scar.


To attain unity in fiction, to pinpoint emphasis and subordination, the device called point of view is of primary importance. It is the angle of narration used by the author which fittingly answers the question: Who tells the story?

The first person point of view finds the author narrating the story using the ‘I’. As a participant, the writer-narrator may be the dominant character, the minor-character or, simply, an observer. Because of the intimate and desultory touch, the first person point of view convinces the reader of the reality of the events, action and characters in the story.

Directly opposed to this post of observation is the omniscient point of view, a variant of the third person point of view, where the author is all-knowing. The principle of selectivity and the upper hand here as the author can peer into the mind and sensations of any one character or he can merely be recording the events. The writer can also maintain an objective distance or he may directly address the reader.

A writer may combine different points of view as long as he does not confuse the reader by doing so.


What point of view is used by Tagore in Mahamaya? Does his angle of narration freely enable him to tell what he likes to emphasize and omit what he wants to play down?


This selection is one of those stories of Tagore published between 1893 to 1895 Prove this through an analysis of his style.


What advantage is there by having Mahamaya’s beauty licked by the flames of the funeral pyre? Does it achieve Tagores intention as author?


In this story, Tagore unveils ancient Indian marriage customs and practices. Point them out.


State the general idea of this story..

Born in Sumatra In 1921, fictionist IDRUS is noted for his short stories and novels about life and affairs in his homeland during the Japanese occupation and the revolution.

OH … OH … OH …!

By Idrus

Sukabumi is known for its cool climate, but the people lined up in front of the ticket window were close to dying of the heat. On their backs, at their necks, their armpits, their shirts were drenched with, sweat. Alongside the row of humans, near their feet, the flies, too, stood in a row, as black as cough syrup, busily feeding in the gutters. Someone was constantly coughing and spitting.

The person coughing was a young man who was as lean as a dead branch. He was standing in the middle of the row. The man just behind him asked: Why are you coughing? It’s not dusty here.

The young man answered: I cough in even the cleanest room. I’ve just come from Patjet. I want to go to Jakarta.

The man behind him pulled out his handkerchief and said: If you’re sick at your chest you shouldn’t spit on the floor, you know. That’s contagious. The young man coughed again, and out of his mouth came thick milk, with red in the middle like the Japanese flag.

At the head of the line stood an Indonesian clad in rags. He pushed his mangy hands through the ticket window and repeated over and over, One fourth-class Jakarta.

The ticket seller cast an angry glance at him and said, If you can’t wait you can leave.

The Indonesian, angry too, answered: I’ve been standing in line for half an hour already. And I’ve not been waited on, yet. And that man’s waited on, ahead of me. The Indonesian pointed toward a station employee behind the ticket seller.

The ticket seller grew angrier still and shouted: "That’s none of your business. That’s my affair. If you want to be helped in a hurry you can do business

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