‘The Homecoming’ by Rabindraneth Tagore

The Homecoming by Rabindraneth Tagore, 1892

The magic trick:

Emotional manipulation in surprising directions

Today’s classic feature introduces us to the character of Phatik, a boy trying to figure out familiar teen angst problems, social hierarchy, sibling rivalries, and a love/hate relationship with his mother. The story is not subtle in how it reaches for and manipulates our perceptions. These are big sympathy grabs. But you may be surprised at where your feelings land.

And that’s quite a trick on Tagore’s part.

The selection:

The boys began to heave at the log with all their might, calling out, “One, two, three, go!” At the word “go” the log went; and with it went Mākhan’s philosophy, glory and all.

The other boys shouted themselves hoarse with delight. But Phatik was a little frightened. He knew what was coming. And, sure enough, Mākhan rose from Mother Earth blind as Fate and screaming like the Furies. He rushed at Phatik and scratched his face and beat him and kicked him, and then went crying home. The first act of the drama was over.

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