(Continued from Page 1)
The twist in the story came with Satish's arrival on the scene. Nilkanta's life turned topsy-turvy when Satish, Sharat's younger brother came home to spend his college vacation. As he was of the same age as Kiran,
Nilkanta was possessed with bitterness, thrashing his devoted boy followers for no fault, littering the path with twigs and leaves beaten from the roadside shrubs, and kicking his pet mongrel till the skies resounded with its whines.
On several occasions, Nilkanta felt neglected and hurt. Having less time on hand, Kiran seldom supervised his meals and she never got to know that Nilkanta would often abandon them. The boy felt that Satish was poisoning Kiran's mind against him. With all the fervour of his hate, he took to praying to gods to make him at the next rebirth Satish and Satish him, convinced as he was that a Brahmin's wrath would never go in vain. Not daring to show his enemity openly to Satish, Nilkanta began to cause him annoyance by creating petty inconveniences for him like taking away his soap without his knowledge when he went for a swim or throwing his favourite tunic into the water and letting it float away. He refused to recite the verses he had learned to entertain Satish too.
Finally the time came for the family to depart. While Satish would accompany them, no one said a word about Nilkanta. Kiran sent for the boy and kindly advised him to go back home, but the pent up feelings of neglect poured out in the form of tears and Satish added insult to injury by commenting sarcastically-
In a desperate bid to take revenge, Nilkanta stole Satish's favourite inkstand
Satish suspected Nilkanta and charged him to bring it back at once, but Nilkanta would not yield. Kiran prevented further interrogation and humiliation of the boy, not allowing his bag to be checked.
However, when Kiran went to keep the parting gifts- two new suits of clothes, a pair of shoes, and a banknote, in Nilkanta's absence, she discovered the inkstand and felt greatly distressed. Nilkanta who observed it all from behind, without her knowledge misunderstood the situation, thinking that Kiran had come to spy on him.
The gaunt young adolescent who had once turned up in the household out of nowhere to find bliss for the first time ever in his life, once again became the abundant, wandering lad. He disappeared the next day.
Kiran stood her stand that his box should not be checked and quietly threw away the inkstand into the river. The whole family left home and Tagore leaves us with the lingering picture of Nilkanta's starving mongrel that seemed to reflect its master's deep agony and helplessness.