Tagore Translations

The Welcome: A Skit by Rabindranath

Translated from Bengali by Somdatta Mandal, this satirical skit[1]was part of Hasyakoutuk (1914) or Humour by Tagore


Courtesy: Creative Commons

Scene One

A village road

Chaturbhuj Babu has come to his village after passing his M.A. exams. He had expected the entire village to be exuberant. He has a stout Kabul cat with him.

Enter Nilratan

Nilratan: So here is Chatubabu. When did you come?

Chaturbhuj: After appearing for my M.A. examination in college –

Nilratan: Oh! This cat is very exquisite.

Chaturbhuj: The examination this time was –

Nilratan: Sir, where did you get this cat?

Chaturbhuj: Bought it. The subject I had elected this year –

Nilratan: How much did you pay for it, sir?

Chaturbhuj: Can’t remember. Nilratanbabu, has anyone graduated from our village?

Nilratan: Plenty. But there is no such cat in the vicinity.

Chaturbhuj: (to himself) Oh God! He only speaks about cats. He does not talk about my success in the exams.

Enter the Zamindar

Zamindar: Oh, here is Chaturbhuj! What did you do all this while in Kolkata, son?

Chaturbhuj: Sir, just came after my M.A. exams.

Zamindar: What did you say? Meye[2]? Given a girl to somebody? To whom have you given?

Chaturbhuj: No, not that. After B.A.—

Zamindar: You have got your daughter married? Her biye[3]? But we did not get to know about it.

Chaturbhuj: Not marriage, but B.A. –

Zamindar: Oh, it’s the same thing. In the city you call it B.A., in our village we call it biye. Ok. Let that be. This cat is very beautiful.

Chaturbhuj: You are mistaken. My –

Zamindar: What mistake? Go and find a similar cat in this whole district.

Chaturbhuj: No, sir. I am not talking about cats –

Zamindar: Yes, we are talking about cats. I am saying that we can’t get such cats.

Chaturbhuj: (to himself) Goodness gracious!

Zamindar: Come with your cat to our locality in the afternoon. The children will be very happy to see it.

Chaturbhuj: Yes, they will surely be happy. They haven’t seen me for a long time.

Zamindar: Yes, that’s true. But I am saying that if you cannot come, then send it through Beni. I want to show it to the children.



Uncle Satu enters

Uncle Satu: Here you are. Seeing you after a long time.

Chaturbhuj: Won’t it take long? So many examinations –

Uncle Satu: This cat –

Chaturbhuj: (annoyed) I am going home.

[About to leave]

Uncle Satu: Here, listen to me. This cat –

Chaturbhuj: No sir, I have work at home.

Uncle Satu: Here, at least answer one question. This cat –

[Chaturbhuj does not reply but walks out hurriedly]

Uncle Satu: Oh God! These children have become very clever after being educated. They have many attributes but too much pride.


Scene Two

The inner domain of Chaturbhuj’s house

Maid: Mistress. Dada has come home very angry.

Mother: Why?

Maid: How do I know?

Enter Chaturbhuj

Small boy: Brother, I want this cat –

Chaturbhuj: (slapping him) Day in and day out only cat, cat, cat!

Mother: Poor son. Is he annoyed for nothing? He has come home after such a long time and the children are pestering him too much. Go! All of you go from here. [To Chaturbhuj] Give it to me, son. I have kept rice and milk for it. I’ll go feed your cat.

Chaturbhuj: (angrily) Take it, mother. All of you only feed the cat. I will not have food. I’m leaving.

Mother: (earnestly) What sort of statement is that? Son, your meal is ready. Just go and take your bath.

Chaturbhuj:    I am leaving. In your country only cats are admired. There is no place for geniuses. (He kicks the cat)

Aunt: Oh, don’t beat it. It has done no harm.

Chaturbhuj: All your affection is for the cat. You don’t have any pity for the human being. (Exit)

Small girl: (pointing offstage) Uncle Hari, come and see. Its tail is so thick and bushy.

Hari: Who’s tail?

Girl: There, his.

Hari: Is it Chaturbhuj’s?

Girl: No, the cat’s.

Scene Three

The road. Chaturbhuj with a bag in hand. No cat with him.

Sadhucharan: Sir, where is your cat?

Chaturbhuj: It’s dead.

Sadhucharan: Oh! How did it die?

Chaturbhuj: (Disgusted) I don’t know, sir.

Enter Paranbabu.

Paran: Sir, what happened to your cat?

Chaturbhuj: It is dead.

Paran: Really? How did it die?

Chaturbhuj: Just as you all will die. With a rope around your neck.

Paran: Oh my god, He is too angry.

A group of boys follow Chaturbhuj. Clapping themselves they tease him shouting

“Kabuli Cat,” “Kabuli Cat.”

[1] [Translated from “Abhyarthana” (Bhadra 1292 B.S.) by Somdatta Mandal]

[2] Daughter in Bengali

[3] Wedding in Bengali

Somdatta Mandal is a former Professor of English and ex-Chairperson, Department of English, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. A recipient of several prestigious fellowships like the Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellowships, British Council Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship, Rockefeller Residency at Bellagio, Italy, Salzburg Seminar and Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Enrichment Fellowship, she has been published widely both nationally and internationally. She has also an award from Sahitya Akademi for the All India Indian Literature Golden Jubilee (1957-2007) Literary Translation Competition in the Fiction category for translating short stories series ‘Lalu’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya.



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