Woman

The following excerpt is from Rabindranath Tagore’s story, Broken Ties. The seemingly easy manner in which he has portrayed the most complex emotion that runs through a woman’s heart is delightful and illuminating. Also, it is something with which one can relate, for most of us, if not all, have been at either bank of the river of love as portrayed in the follow-up.

Women are ever ready to bestow their heart where sorrow cannot but be their lot. They will either string their garland of acceptance for some brute of a man who will trample it under foot and defile it in the mire of his passions, or dedicate it to some idealist, on whose neck it will get no hold, attenuated as he is, like the dream-stuff of his imaginings.

When left to do their own choosing, women invariably reject ordinary men like me, made up of gross and fine, who know woman to be just woman – that is to say, neither a doll of clay made to serve for our pastime, nor a transcendental melody to be evoked at our master touch. They reject us, because we have neither the forceful delusions of the flesh, nor the roseate illusions of fancy: we can neither break them on the wheel of our desire, nor melt them in the glow of our fervour to be cast in the mould of our ideal.

Because we know them only for what they are, they may be friendly, but cannot love us. We are their true refuge, for they can rely on our devotion; but our self-dedication comes so easy that they forget it has a price. So the only reward we get is to be used for their purposes; perchance to win their respect. But I am afraid my excursions into the region of psychology are merely due to personal grievances, which have my own experience behind them. The fact probably is, what we thus lose is really our gain, – anyway, that is how we may console ourselves.

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