Justify the title of the story ‘The Wife’s Letter’.
Ans. The journal ‘Sabujpatra’ (The Green Leaf) was launched in 1914 on the eve of Rabindranath’s birthday, 25 Vaishakh (usually 8th May) by Pramatha Choudhuri, married to Poet’s niece Indira Debi Choudhuri. Out of ten remarkable short stories that the poet wrote for ‘Sabujpatra’ ‘The Wife’s Letter’ had occupied an important position due to its intellectual inner perception and irony and symbols. The story sets out to free the self from the tyranny of conformity.
Standing on the shore of the vast ocean Mrinal comes to know the truth, the truth which was so long caged in the darkening rooms at number 27, Makhan Baral Lane. She is capable of breaking the family cord and finds the path eternal ;
“Mirabai too was a woman like me. Her fetters were not light either, but she did not need to die in order to live.”
If Mrinal would come out from the boundary of family life out of anger it would be unjust. She responds to the call of life.
Through the letter Mrinal declares openly her quest for self or the discovery of self. She had to take the confined family life. During fifteen years’ toil and moil she can not find relief. Her soul was chained. She in every pause of life protests against the tradition, tries to express her individuality and struggles hard to establish her identity. The result of those was the conflict. This conflict gives birth a revolt and Mrinal abandons her family and sojourns to discover herself to begin a free life where she could draw forth the cool air of life.
It was Bindu who was responsible to open the eyes of Mrinal. Bindu was the sister of Mrinal’s elder sister-in-law. After the death of her widowed mother Bindu was driven by her cousins. She gradually became infatuated with Mrinal and Mrinal loved her like a mother. Sometimes Bindu’s love made her uneasy but “that love made me glimpse a true image of myself, one that I had never seen before. This was the image of my free self.” The suicide of Bindu made Mrinal to cross her limits, the ties for which she could not free herself. The death of Bindu opened a new vista to Mrinal. She finally won the game of representing her existence.
Mrinal through a letter describes her new journey for a new life as well as her efforts to establish her identity. Moreover the letter helps the reader to understand the female psychology and the true picture of women’s quarter of the then time. Mrinal sketches the characters from her own point of view and probes deep into their psychology also. Moreover what we can not speak face freely we can write down them. Thus Mrinal through the letter makes her husband to know those which she perhaps could not utter before him. So the title is the manifesto of the central character and hence apt.