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Haimontee: The Lost Treasure Trove

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Barrister Miti Sanjana :
Haimontee, is a short story by Rabindranath Tagore which reflects the deepest feelings of a 17 years old girl from the nineteenth century and described an intense description of matrimonial relations of the society of nineteenth century of India. Haimontee lost her mother at a very young age and was raised by her father in the path of virtue. He was a professor and a progressive minded person. God blessed him with this daughter and he educated her with an instinctive knowledge. In his lonely life this girl was meant as a blessing who kept the father's soul alive out of the darker depths. This 17 year old girl was at her past marriageable age and became outcast in the society. However, her prospective father in law found it beneficial to compromise the age of the bride with a huge amount of dowry.
Haimontee's father always taught her the true spirit of honesty and she did not learn to play any trick. Therefore when her mother in law asked her to hide her true age in front of the relatives who attended her wedding she was surprised and refused to do that.
Haimontee's struggle starts right after her marriage by silencing any disagreeable thoughts and by pretending she was happy. Despite of being a high- spirited girl she struggled to adjust herself with everyday household chores like every other traditional Indian housewives of that conservative society. But when her in laws started disrespecting her father she was broken and it was a wound that never healed. She was overly tired of making all compromises with the successive abusive marriage.  She looked thinner and paler with agony than ever. She felt weak, she felt death near, and had no one to vent her sorrow on to. Her father rushed to meet her. He called a doctor to see Haimontee as she was medically unattended. Doctor advised them to take her for a vacation to change the atmosphere. When Haimontee's father asked her whether she wants to go to home with him, her eyes were filled with tears of joy. But her unkind father in law disallowed her to do so. Haimontee's husband Opu attempted to take a stand against the decision of disallowing her to return to her father's home but he failed.
Haimontee's father was very lonely with only this treasure to keep his heart alive. He felt that he had an absolute right to take his daughter with him. Even he was ready to defend that right to the death but he had to surrender before the discriminatory elements of traditions and customs of the society.
Haimontee was all source of his happiness. On the other hand daughter's heart was crying silently for her father who had in charge of her heart and soul.  Silently Haimontee's heart cried out- "Father, you know me better than these people do-only you know what is in my heart!" But she could not speak up. Finally the day of separation of father and daughter came. Both the father and daughter's hearts were filled with sorrows and forebodings. Though she said goodbye to her father with heavy heart, her voice was soft, delicate and powerful that echoed through the entire corridor.
Tagore's women characters have psychological depth who described their views regarding the traditional Indian society and feminism. Opu was deeply in love with Haimontee and he described her as his treasure-trove not his property. But he utterly failed to disregard the social norms of that traditional conservative society which killed the passion, talents and dreams of Haimontee. Opu was constantly confronting with an extremely painful and stressful paradox. After that painful separation of daughter and father none saw Haiontee's smiling face again.  Her large black eyes sunk into deep melancholy forever. Few days later Opu's mother started searching for a suitable bride for him. n      
(The writer is an Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and an activist)

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