Theme: Education

The Delinquent

You say, I give indulgence to Tinu
And for that you are angry with me.
I love the boy
Rather than delinquent
I think him to be naughty –
Not that I am not angry with him
But I like him too
And perhaps this is true.
There are some people
Who are just like that -
They are not entirely bad
So their bad qualities easily come to notice.
That worthless fellow appears outwardly bad
But inwardly he is good.
He is bad in mass but not in weight;
So, he isn’t as bad as you see him to be.
His mind is like a long racing boat
That travels in a smooth speed;
Call it good or bad
No load it retains for long
It passes it forthwith to the other bank;
Nothing can put any pressure on him
Nor does he put pressure on others.
His nature is to liven up a gathering,
He talks a lot and hence tells a lot of lies –
Full of gaps the gossip becomes dull
Whatever is false is not in his mind
They are in his words.
They know it well those who know his style.
You think he is a scandal monger?
Yes, it is true –
Never intending to harm him whose calumny he spreads
He makes scandals by exaggerating the truth
To make it salacious to the ears
Of those who love to hear scandals –
In the firmament of scandal
These people are millions
They are a milky way
While Tinu is only a single star
He derives his brilliance from those millions.
He is intelligent but indiscreet
Instead of indignation he is a source of fun.
But those who judge everything absolutely
Either as good or as bad
Do not feel amused,
They are grim and grave.
Unable to tolerate their solemnity and weight
Their company Tinu always avoids
We breathe a sigh of relief
If by chance
These solemn men are ever caught in their wrong foot
Let me explain the manner of his indiscretion –
That rogue Makhan in the Sanskrit class
Kept some ashes on the teacher’s chair
The teacher’s dress became soiled
At this he heartily laughed
So laughed the entire class
Except of course the Sanskrit teacher.
Makhan was rusticated by the head master
Who was very grave and a strict judge
And instead of laughter he always excites fear.
Tinu does mischief without any premeditation
As he does good without any consideration
And forgets them all as soon as they are done.
He also forgets to repay what he borrows
As he forgets to collect what he lends.
It is he who is the ultimate loser in the bargain.
Scold him as much as you wish
But you should also laugh
To do otherwise would be wrong.
I see him as a human and fellow being
Beyond all right and wrong.
As an accused to be tried at your bar
According to your own rules
As a judge you see him from a distance.
I treat him more harshly than you do
But more magnanimously I forgive him.
I punish him but I do not banish him.
Don’t be angry
He will stay with me.
Translation of the poem Aparadhi from the collection Punascha (Once More) by Rabindranath Tagore.
The original poem is at[This poem is very important not only as one of the earliest specimens of what may be termed as a ‘modern’ prose poem in Bengali literature written in colloquial language without any conventional rhetoric or rhyme  but also as an exposition of the educational ideas of Rabindranath which he put into practice in his children’s school at Santiniketan. This school was started as a response to his bitter and painful memories at school in his own childhood. Young students used to be taught their lessons in a very crude and cruel manner; corporal punishment was not an exception but the rule. The educational theory was simple - 'Spare the rod and spoil the child'. In Tagore’s school even naughty students were to be treated in a humane manner. In this connection my translation of an article Bhandare-Gurudev by one of the earliest students of Santiniketan Brahmacharyashram, Syed Mujtaba Ali, published in bolokids at
may be read. And in its early days some of the students of Santiniketan were actually ‘problem children’, very unmanageable and impossible at home, who were sent there by their parents as a good riddance.]


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

Views: 1349     Comments: 2

Comments on this Poem

Comment Thank you, dear rdashby. The poet was very fond of children. Very few, if any, writer in the world has written so much for them as did Tagore. And most of them are masterpieces. Also, unfortunately, untranslatable, or when translated much of their poetry and beauty is lost.

11-Nov-2011 19:21 PM

Comment >And in its early days some of the students of Santiniketan were actually ‘problem children’, very unmanageable and impossible at home, who were sent there by their parents as a good riddance.<

The institution of boarding school was founded on this, one would surmise. My own mother used to say, 'Thank God you're going back to school!' towards the end of my 3 months holidays, and I faced the prospect of 9 months away from home. Actually, maternal and filial feelings were enhanced by separation, and the weekly letter to each contained only sweetness and affection - no more telling or being told off. In short, every child has the delinquent in his nature, whose typicality the poet more or less acknowledges:

> I see him as a human and fellow being
Beyond all right and wrong.<

11-Nov-2011 14:17 PM

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