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Rabindranath Tagore, born on 7th May 1861, at his ancestral mansion at Jorasankho in Calcutta (Kolkata). He was the youngest child of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi.He was well accomplished in various fields of education. Although he never received any formal education or achieved any degree from any university, he had vast knowledge in almost every subject. He was a great poet, a novelist, a short story writer, a play wwright and also a painter. He received the noble prize in literature in the year 1913 for his Gitanjali, a collection of song offerings. JANA GANA MANA”, the National Anthem of India and “AMAR SONAR BANGLA”, were also written by Rabindranath Tagore. The present story PUNISHMENT has been taken from his collection of short stories, GALPAGUCHHA.



The two wives of the Rui family getting indulged in quarrel with each other has become their daily activity.Immediately after their husbands Dukhiram and Chidam are out to earn their livelihood, they start with their quarrel. Both the Rui brothers Chidam and Dukhiram are farmers. Like the entire neighbourhood, the two Rui brothers were also accustomed to the wrangling habits if their wives. The two wives begin screaming with each other with the breaking of day and knowing the nature these two wives the whole neighbourhood only says that they are again at it. The neighbours never interfered in their regular strife as they were fully habituated to it. And when the wives remain  silent, it caused the anxiety of the others. This is because their present silence is just a presage of the forthcoming storm that is more violent.

It was such a day on which the plot of the story is set. After a day long toil the two Rui brothers have returned home tired. The house is extraordinarily silent and the the quietness of the house corresponds well with the choking atmosphere all round. In the afternoon there had been a heavy shower and since then the whole atmosphere is suffocated with a heavy smell of damp vegetation. Besides the buzzing of crickets and the croaking of frogs has filled the gloomy surrounding. The flooded river Padma has washed away the fields of grain is now flowing much closer to the houses.

Being alert by the warning of a flood, the villagers are busy in their fields, but the envoys of the zamindars forcibly engaged the two in mending the leakage in the office roof. The work kept them engaged throughout the day and hence they failed to return home for lunch. And when they have finally returned home after enduring the abuses of the envoy, the house has turned for them a hell. While the younger wife Chandra is found lying stretched on the ground with her sari flared out, Radha was sitting on the verandah leaving her eighteen month baby crying helplessly. By the time the two brothers returned from work the baby had gone to sleep.

Out of terrible hunger, Dukhiram howled to his wife for food. Radha in return screamed louder to announce there was no food in the house and made it clear that it was not her duty to walk on the streets to earn for it. Her humiliating words frenzied her wearied and starved husband, who lost his sense and roaring like a furious tiger thrusted his knife into her head. Instantly Radha collapsed into her sister-in-law, Chandara’s lap and within minutes she was dead. Although this horrific sight shocked Chandara, Chidam prevented her from screaming. Even the little boy woke up and started crying in terror. As for his guilty father, he dropped the knife fell down on his knees hiding his head in his hands.

The village head Ramlochan  Chakraborty, the village head, had returned home after his visit to post office with a letter. While smoking comfortably he remembered the debt of Dukhiram a portion of which the latter had promised to pay on that day. Hence, he walked to the Rui cottage, thinking that the brothers must be there in the house. On his arrival to the Rui’s house, Ramlochan felt uncomfortable with sound of muffled sobs coming from the inmates of the cottage. On the verandah of the house he found the four members of the Rui family obscurely visible.

Ramlochan called for Dukhiram, and the latter broke into tears seeing the head of the village standing before him.Chidam came quickly before Ramlochan, wondering what to say, because in his mind was developing the plot of removing the corpse elsewhere. The unexpected arrival of Ramlochan puzzled Chidam to such an extent that he distorted the truth by saying Chandra had struck at Radha’s head with a farm knife. Ramlochan was shocked to hear such a mess. On asking Ramlochan how to save his wife, he suggested Chidam to blame it on his elder brother, Dukhiram. But, Chidam was not however, ready to defame his brother, as according to philosophy it is impossible to replace a brother if he is hanged but a wife can be replaced. Ramlochan departed hearing Chidam’s viewpoint and said it would then be better for him to say what actually happened if his brother was more important to him than his wife.Ramlochanwhile moving out of the house said that it is not possible for one to protect himself on all sides.

Soon the news of Chandara’s murder of her sister-in-law spread all over the village. The police stormed into the village and scaring both the guilty as well as the innocent.Chidam was afraid to expose the truth of the murder, after having concealed the original fact from Ramlochan, decided to stick to his own point. Hence, he ordered his wife Chandara to take the blame on herself and assured her of her safety if she acted according to her husband’s advice. Although Chidam sorted out an easy solution to save his brother, he was panick- stricken while his wife remained dumb.

Chandara was a teen aged girl, full of liveliness and veryeloquent.On contrary Radha was a bit reserved and unkempt in her dress. Her world comprised only her child and her daily chores.However each of the wives were well matched with their husbands. While Dukhiram was a huge looking and though somewhat innocent was a fearsome man, Chidam on the other hand had a figure like a sportsman. He was full of energy, and eager to make himself charming among the women. But Chidam’s true love was for his wife Chandara and the bond between them was very firm as Chidam believed a wife like Chandara could not be trusted wholly.Chandara too did not trust her husband fully as she knew his wondering eyes if not controlled tightly might lead hi to astray.

Dukhiram relied on his brother for everything. Knowing this Chidamendeavoured to teach Chandara the fabrication of Ramlochan. The elder wife was about to attack her with the vegetable slicer. Hence, Chandara picked up a sharp knife to stop her. But, somehow the knife pierced her and Radha was killed accidentally. But, despite of Chidam’s every effort to save his wife, Chandara reported of proceeding to kill Radha  without any threat from the latter. The reason being her firm resolution to waste away her youth instead of surrendering to her husband. Thus, the lively expressive teen aged Chandara was arrested. A huge crowd followed her to the police station, where she made no attempt to wash away the undeserved blemish on her.

To the deputy magistrate, however, Chandara again confessed her guilt. But she reported no harm from her sister-in-law, as advised by her husband. Finding Chandara terribly resolute, Chidam broke out into tears, pleading to the magistrate that his wife was innocent. Gradually, the true story came out. But it was of no use.Ramlochan Chakraborty was the most trusted witness, who informed of having heard from Chidam the true story of the murder. The village head had previously prepaired stories to save Chandara, but finding her ready to wear the noose, decided not to take any risk of giving any false information.

Chandara’s statement remained firm even when she was made aware of her punishment. Hearing her punishment, she pleaded with the judge to give it to her, as she could not take it any more. Even seeing her husband in the court, Chandara, inspite of confessing her love for him, did not feel the urge to say the fact which might have saved her from being hanged. Dukhiramalso attempted to save Chandara by saying the truth. But every cross examination, the judge concluded that the Rui brothers had confessed to the crime only to save the younger wife from the shame of being hanged. Hence, Chandara was ordered to be hanged till death. Just before the hanging, in the gallow, a kind civil surgeon asked Chandara if she would like to see anyone.Chandara expressed her wish to see her mother. When she was informed about her husband’s desire to meet her, she refused to see him.


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