Introduction:

‘The Home Coming’ is a story written by Rabindranath Tagore. Narrated in third person point of view, it talks about the story of a fourteen-year-old adolescent boy, the struggles he has to go through.

About the Author:

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a prominent poet who wrote both in English and Bengali. In 1913, he was a awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work ‘Gitanjali’. After being knighted in 1951, he renounced it in 1991 after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Famous works of his include Gitanjali, Ghare-Baire and India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’.  

Theme:

This story revolves around the themes of conflict and love in Phatik’s life. Minor themes also include responsibility and isolation as felt by an adolescent boy. 

Summary:

The brothers:

Phatik is a fourteen-year-old fun loving, mischievous boy and has earned a reputation for it. When he was with other boys of the village, his younger brother Makhan, in an attempt to rile him up, sits on the log in front of him. Phatik threatens that he would push him down if he down if he doesn’t go away. But this threat falls on deaf ears. Swallowing his panic for he couldn’t lose face before the other boys, Phatik pushes the log off. An injured Makhan, enraged, beats Phatik. Returning home, Makhan promptly informs his mother lies. His mother too, believes him. Angered, Phatik hits his brother before his mother before a stranger, who is revealed to be the mother’s brother, arrives.

Calcutta:

His uncle, Bishmaber, gets permission from his mother to take Phatik along with him to Calcutta to educate him. His mother was all too ready to agree. His mother was distressed by his presence as she was under constant fear that he would prove to be a threat to Makhan. However, she gets distressed over Phatik being equally enthusiastic to leave. However, Calcutta was no better. His aunt didn’t love him. People saw him as a nuisance. He was miserable. He wished to be home.

The school:

Schooling was also a miserable experience for Phatik. He could neither blend in nor impress the teachers. Desperate, he finally musters enough courage to ask his uncle when he could go home. His Uncle’s only reply was that he could return during the holidays. One day, he loses his book for which he is both insulted and reprimanded by his fellow school mates and aunt. 

The fever:

Upon returning home that day, Phatik tries to escape back home. However, he gets caught in a torrent of rain, he catches a severe malarial cold. His uncle, unable to find him, lodged a complaint with the police. When the police find him and bring him back, he is further criticised. Unable to bear it any longer, he cries that he wants to return home, to which his uncle replies that he has already sent for his mother. His mother finally arrives but it can be seen that it is all too late. 

Conclusion:

In his fever induced hallucination, Phatik begs his mother to not beat him, even as he wishes to return home. Society’s attitude towards adolescents is highly criticized by Tagore when he points out how not even one person tries to understand what he was going through, the emotional suffering he had to endure. Even though his mother seems to regret her actions in the end of the story, it cannot reverse the turmoil her son had to endure.