My Lord, the Baby by Rabindranath Tagore
In My Lord, the Baby by Rabindranath Tagore we have the theme of sacrifice, guilt, responsibility, gratitude, letting go, selflessness and shame. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Tagore may be exploring the theme of sacrifice. Raicharan rather than living with the guilt of feeling responsible for his master’s son’s death gives his only son to his master. Believing that his son is in fact the reincarnation of his master’s son. Raicharan’s logic is questionable but he himself believes that his own son is really his master’s son. It is as though God has returned his master’s son to him and as such Raicharan has no right or at least he feels as though he has no right to keep what is his own son. It is also noticeable that Raicharan lives the life of a pauper in order that his son can have the best of everything. This may be important as it further suggests that Raicharan is willing to sacrifice his own needs for his son. A son who in reality shows very little if any gratitude to Raicharan. It is also possible that Raicharan is trying to wash away any sense of responsibility that he may feel he has for the death of his master’s son. Raicharan is a kind-hearted man who would rather do the right thing than the wrong thing. He is prepared to sacrifice his own happiness with his son in order that his master and mistress are happy.
What is also interesting about the story is the fact that Raicharan never really lets go of his master’s son. Something that is noticeable when he buys his own son a go-kart and some gold ornaments that are similar to those that his master’s son had. It is as though Raicharan longs for the guilt he feels to dissipate. Though it never does despite the passing of time. Some readers will also notice that Raicharan is selfless. He puts everybody in front of himself. Whether it be his master, his master’s son or his own son. Raicharan thinks of others before he thinks about himself. There is also a sense that Raicharan feels shame over what has happened his master’s son. A shame that has driven him to create a mirror image of his master’s son by way of his own son. At no stage of the story does the reader feel that Raicharan has let go of the incident with his master’s son. He has carried the burden and punished himself since his master’s son died.
The mistress is also an interesting character though she does not play much of a role in the story. However just like Raicharan she has been unable to let go of the death of her son and longs for another baby. Which may be important as Tagore may be suggesting that the mistress may feel incomplete having lost one child and not have had another. Children bring joy to parents and since her son’s death the mistress does not appear to have lived a happy life. Something that is to be expected. The loss of a child can linger with a parent for life. So overwhelmed with grief when her son first went missing the mistress offered Raicharan all the money that she had. Hoping that this would entice the return of her baby. At no stage could the mistress accept that her son might be dead. Again something that would be very normal for a parent on discovery that their child is either missing or dead.
The end of the story is also interesting as Raicharan thoroughly believes that he is doing the right thing. His son’s reaction to his new life is also surprising as he disregards Raicharan though does suggest to Raicharan’s master that he provide Raicharan with a monthly pension. It is as though Raicharan’s son believes that he is finally home. Having never believed that Raicharan was his real father. Basing his opinion on the simplicity of Raicharan’s life. If anything Raicharan’s son has always looked down on his father because he was so different to himself. Raicharan’s son has no understanding of all the sacrifices that Raicharan has made for him. Nor does he understand the final sacrifice that Raicharan has made. Giving his son away to somebody else under the guise that they are his real parents. The fact that Raicharan is never seen again at the end of the story is also interesting as he may have decided that he has no other option but to roam from village to village lonely and defeated. Still blaming himself for the death of his master’s son. The real winners in the story are Raicharan’s master, mistress and son. All who owe a debt of gratitude to Raicharan as he lives his life as though he is an outcast. Still blaming himself for an accident that he was not responsible for.