Tagore received his education at home. He was taught in Bengali, with English lessons in the afternoon. Tagore spent a brief time at St. In , he enrolled at University College, at London, but was called back by his father to return to India in During the first 51 years of his life, he achieved some success in the Calcutta area of India where he was born and raised with his many stories, songs and plays.
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But then I read an article that called out a resounding "Bullshit! Tagore, who wrote poetry and plays and also over two thousand songs, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in , the first Asian to win the prize. And yet, many Westerners have never heard of him. I had never heard of Tagore prior to reading this article, and I soon found that I was not alone in my ignorance. It took a little while to track down some of his books, and after calling several local bookstores I found that no one I spoke with had heard of him.
What has he written? It sounds very interesting. But his literary repute may have offered little solace to one whose life was filled with tragedy with Tagore finding many accolades unnecessary and creating, it seemed, more to fill his heart with purpose in the face of tragedy than in search of any acclaim -- his mother died when he was only a boy and his father traveled often, so the young Tagore was raised by servants and spent most of his days sheltered indoors though he longed to be outside, feeling that there were mysteries in the open world beckoning him ; a close friend killed herself; and his wife and two of his children all died of illness not long before he wrote this play, The Post Office Dak Ghar.
The Post Office is a short play in three acts as presented in this translation that rose up out of the ashes of despair. It is semi-autobiographical, one might say, in that the sheltered life of the young boy in the play Amal is very similar to the upbringing of Tagore and in that Tagore wrote it in response to the many untimely deaths that confronted him.
Amal does not realize that he is dying, but he does know that he is not well. And yet, he still lives life to the fullest, as far as he is able, and he makes friends through his window with passers by, teaching a curdseller the joys of his profession, conversing with a watchman on the relativity of Time, whose sweeping reach is unavoidable as it pushes us on toward the future, and making friends with young boys and a flower girl, enjoying their company rather than envying them.
Korczak explained that the play was chosen to teach the children that "eventually one had to learn to accept serenely the angel of death. Life is difficult and unfair, and there are dark moments that will just not go away no matter how hard we resist.
When hard times present themselves, if they cannot be overcome, then we just have to try to search for the light in the darkness, or else we suffer a sort of death of the spirit that is worse than any physical death.
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