Home Literature The Post Office By Rabindranath Tagore Summary

The Post Office By Rabindranath Tagore Summary

by Litinbox

‘The Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore‘ is a two-act play (some versions of the play contain three acts) with no scenes to divide between the actions. No lack of lucidity is there however, as Tagore cleverly divides between actions with the entrance and exit of characters which obviously mark the division of scenes.

‘The Post Office’ was originally written in Bengali in 1912 known as ‘Dak Ghar‘. Then it was translated into English and published in 1914 as ‘The Post Office’.

Until today, the play stands as one of the most produced plays of Tagore in India and abroad. William Butler Yeats was the first to produce the English version of the play. 

The longing for spiritual liberation and the obvious mystical undertones are beautifully portrayed in the play that kindle the emotions of readers.

Plot Overview

At the opening of ‘The Post Office’, Madhav adopts a young boy named Amal. Amal is an orphan boy. He is seriously ill and vulnerable, so he is confined to bed and not permitted to get out of the room as per the advice of his physician that if he is exposed to autumn wind and sun, then it will ruin his health further.

Amal’s longing to get liberated from his confinement is evident in his questions to every passers-by at his window. He makes contact with the passers-by and befriends them, particularly the dairyman, the watchman, the headman and Sudha, a little flower girl.

Amal views his life as a barren land, a desert, where even the water is a mirage. He longs for the stream of life in the outer world. He often dreams of such a life and even fantasies about a life in an imaginary world.

Amal’s dream is to become a postman when he grows up, as this job would keep him busy with work in the outer world. He gets tired speaking with strangers at his window. Madhav grows anxious to preserve the boy’s life by any possible means. 

Amal learns from the watchman that the King’s Post Office is set up nearby to deliver letters to the children from the King containing small notes. At once, Amal hopes to receive a letter from the King for sure one day.

He sees a flower girl named Sudha on her way to work, stops her and befriends. When he sees a group of boys go to play, he stops them and requests them to play at his window, promising to provide them all his dolls.

On account of his exposure to damp air at his window, now his physical condition deteriorates and it seems he will embrace death soon.

Amal wishes to ask Gaffer about the places he had been. He also enquires whether the King has sent him a letter.

The physician arrives and after checking him, he informs that Amal’s health is declining and it is impossible to hold him up anymore.

The King’s Herald enters and announces the arrival of the King that night to visit Amal. The Royal Physician follows the Herald to try some advanced medications. The oil lamp is blown out for the starlight to come in. All are quiet.

Amal falls into an eternal sleep. Sudha arrives and innocently requests the physician to whisper into Amal’s ears that she still remembers him, unaware of his demise.

The Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore Summary


At the beginning of ‘The Post Office’, Madhav is seen speaking with the village doctor. Obviously, they discuss about sick Amal, an orphan boy, whom Madhav has adopted as his son.

Madhav admits to the doctor that his heart is fully occupied by the boy and even a mere thought of separation from the boy would make him awful. The doctor consoles Madhav and advises on medications and caretaking.

Amal is an orphan boy at Madhav’s home. He is confined to bed owing to a terrible fever and taking medicines as prescribed by the physician. Even a moment’s exposure to the damp autumn wind and the sun will make his health critical.

Gaffer, one of Madhav’s acquaintances, enters. They bite each other in words. Then Madhav informs him that he has adopted a child as his wife was dying to adopt a child. Before he has adopted Amal, he admits, money-making was a kind of passion to him. But now, he earns all only to spend on the medications of the boy with pleasure.

Gaffer enquires from where the boy was picked up. Madhav replies that the boy is a distant relation to his wife. He lost his mother one day at his infancy and his father the other day recently.

Then, he details the doctor’s advice to keep the boy away from the autumn wind and the sun as all the organs of his body are at loggerheads with each other. He seeks Gaffer’s support, for he is an expert in keeping children indoors. Gaffer exits.

Amal comes in. He requests permission from his uncle (Madhav, the adopted father) to go out. But Madhav denies. On being asked why he should not be out, Madhav says that the doctor doesn’t allow him. Amal deplores his situation and wishes he were a squirrel or any other animals that would enjoy its life without a barrier.

Madhav advises him to read more number of books to become a learned man in future. But, Amal is determined that he doesn’t want to be a learned man, instead he wants to measure the far away hills and everything around him.

Apparently Madhav is not happy at his reply. He says that the hill stands upright as a hurdle signifying that it won’t let him out. Amal thinks the other way, however. He says that the earth raises its hands, signaling the people to live far away instead of sitting alone by their windows.

Madhav reprimands him for being so crazy and adds that the learned men never think nonsensical like him. Amal charges him explaining about a crazy man whom he met the day before. The man carried a bamboo staff on his shoulder with a small bundle at the top, a brass pot in his left hand and an old pair of shoes. He goes without an idea as to where to go, but to search for a work anywhere over there.

Seeing that crazy man, Amal says, he also wanted to go up to the stream, but his auntie denied permission, assuring to take him up there once he recovers from his illness.

But, he still wishes to go about finding things to do like that crazy man. Amal’s concern is that no one takes him out, instead everyone forces him shrink to four walls.

A dairyman selling curd on the streets stops by Amal’s room at his request. He asks why he has stopped him. Amal replies that he feels homesick and wants to join him since he can enjoy roaming along the streets.

Amal asks the curd-seller where he hails from. He replies that he is from the village which lies on the Shamli river under Panchmura hills. Amal is intrigued to imagine the astonishing sight of the village with very big old trees and women-folk in red saree carrying pitchers home from river.

He admits to the curd-seller that he has actually never seen his village and requests to take him to his village once he gets well. He further adds that he also wants to learn to carry curd and shoulder the yoke like him, and walk along the road long way around.

He doesn’t want to be a learned man but want to carry curd along and sell it from village to village. Moreover, he also wants to learn the tune in which the dairyman shouts out for selling curd. 

The dairyman feels it a pleasure to give the boy some curd at free of cost since he has taught him how to be happy selling curd. Money matters a little to him.

After the dairyman leaves, a watchman arrives hearing Amal’s cry for some curd from his window. He enquires the boy what is the noise about. Amal begins to imagine how life would be a bliss to be with the watchman as he will take him straight to the king.

The bell sound the watchman gongs at proper intervals is like a music to hear. The bell strikes when it is midday to have lunch and his uncle has to be back at work after his meal is over and his aunt would fall asleep with Ramayana in hand.

Amal imagines to fly with time to a faraway mysterious land known to nobody. He hopes that one day a doctor better than this village doctor will come to release him from his confinement and take him to that mysterious land.

He asks the watchman when will the great doctor come to untie his fastened wings. But he gets a shut-up call from the watchman. Though he can’t get out of four walls, when he hears the ding dong sound of the bell, he feels as if he is taken away to another land.

Amal sees a new big house the other side where people come and go out. He enquires the watchman what is up there. He says that it is the newly established post office to dispatch letters from the king for children containing tiny notes.

At once, Amal hopes to receive a letter from the King one day. He grows impatient to ask the watchman when he will receive his letter from the King and who will bring the letter.

The watchman clarifies that the king has set up the Post Office with golden flags flying high in the building, appointing several postmen with a round gilt badge on their chests, only to dispatch the letters to the recipient.

Now, Amal wishes to become the king’s postman when he grows up. The watchman appreciates the boy’s wish to be a postman, though it’s a necessary job, he says, it is a difficult task delivering letters from door to door.

After he leaves, Amal thinks it would be splendid to receive a letter from the King every day, but asks himself who will read them to him. He doesn’t know how to read and Auntie would be busy with her Ramayana. If no one is there to read him, he will keep them safe and read them when he grows up.

Amal yells at the headman to stop. The headman bursts into the boy and calls him a ‘wretched monkey’. Amal asks him whether the postmen revere him as everybody else does. The headman replies that they don’t but obey his command, however.

Then, Amal requests him to tell the postmen in the post office that he always sits by the window, so that they would find him easily when they have to deliver his letter from the King.

When Amal asks why he is so cross with him, the headman replies angrily that it is his habit, and continues that if he wishes, he may even complain to the King that Madhav is a devilish swell who has made a little monkey. Amal is obviously displeased with his behavior and the headman leaves.

Amal requests a girl to stop. She is Sudha, daughter of a flower-seller, who is already late for work and has no time to spare for him. She regards him as a late star in the morning and asks whatever is the matter with him.

Amal says that she doesn’t wish to stop and he doesn’t care to stay on here either. He knows one thing clear that his doctor won’t allow him out. She understands his feelings that always looking out of the window must make him tired.

Also, she advises him to follow doctor’s advice and not to be very naughty wishing to be out as people will be cross with him. He enquires him who she is. She says that her name is Sudha, the nearby flower-seller’s daughter, and her work is to gather flowers in basket.

The boy says that he knows all about Champa of the fairy tale and his seven brothers. If he is allowed, he will go right into the dense forest and pick flowers like Champa, where the honey-sipping hummingbirds rock at the end of the thinnest branches.

On being asked whether she can be his sister Parul, she says, she can’t be as she is Sudha, the daughter of Sasi, a flower-seller. She says that it would be an enjoyment for her if she can lounge like him free from duties. But she has a lot of work to do every day as she has to weave garlands as many as possible a day.

When Amal asks what would be her great times, she says, she is happy with her doll, Benay the bride and Meni the pussycat. She leaves in a hurry promising to visit him late in the day when she comes back.

Then Amal stops a troop of boys off to play. He asks them what will they play. One of them says, they are to play at being ploughmen and another boy showing a stick, says that it is their ploughshare.

Another boy says that they two are the pair of oxen. Amal asks whether they are going to play all day long. The boys say ‘yes’ that they will be back only at the sunset. The boys ask him to join them. He says, he can’t as it is his doctor’s advice.

Amal requests them to play in front his window offering to give his own dolls which are getting dirty and he can get new dolls for them once they become old. The boys consent. Then he feels sleepy when he hears the bell sound.

Before the boys leave, he enquires them whether they know the King’s postmen and they can find him if there’s a letter for him. The boys reply that they will surely find him. As Amal requests, the boys agree to bring one of the postmen when they come back the next morning.


At the opening of the second act of ‘The Post Office’, Amal is seen withdrawn to bed as his health condition worsens on account of his exposure to wind squatting near the window every day. 

Amal asks Madhav whether he can go near window and would the doctor mind if he does so. Madhav denies permission since being at window still worsens his health. Amal says that he may miss Fakir pass the window if he is not there.

Amal replies to Madhav when he questions who Fakir is, that Fakir is an acquaintance and he comes and chats with him about the various lands where he has been, and he loves to hear him.

As Fakir is about to pass the window, Amal requests Madhav to bring in him. Fakir (actually Gaffer in disguise) comes in. When Amal welcomes Fakir to sit by his bed, Madhav opens out to tell him that Fakir is actually Gaffer. But Gaffer quiets Madhav with a strong winking.

The sick boy asks Fakir where he has been to this time. Fakir says that he is just back from the Parrot’s Isle. Amal reminds his promise to take him along with him as his follower when he recovers from his illness. Fakir keeps his promise and also offers to teach him so many traveler’s secret.

Madhav is apparently displeased to hear from Amal say that he wants to go along with Fakir. Fakir, then, explains the Parrot’s Isle which is situated in the sea.

There is no human, only birds which sing and fly. It is a land of wonder with greenery hills on it. No hills without waterfalls, they are very fascinating. The waterfalls are like molten diamonds and pebbles sing and dance with the flow of water. The birds would look at him like he is nothing but a man, who, without wings is an insignificant creature, inferior to them.

Since Amal has already fixed up with curd selling business when he grows up, he doubts whether he will be able to pursue his business among birds and their nests. This again makes Madhav feel uncomfortable. He exits.

Then Amal asks Gaffer whether the King has sent him a letter to the Post Office. He replies that his letter is on the way.

Gaffer also promises Amal that he will take him to the King once he gets well and declares to request the King to make Amal his postman. This will keep Amal busy in delivering letters door to door and thereby he will get an opportunity to stay away from home all day long, since he feels staying in the room the whole day makes him feel that the day is much longer than it actually is.

Madhav enters and criticizes Gaffer for spreading rumour that the King has planted his office there to send messages to both of them. The headman has informed it to the King anonymously. As everything reaches the King’s ears, he warns him to be careful as it will bring ruin to them.

Amal asks Fakir whether the King will be cross. Fakir assures him that the King won’t be cross with a child like him and a fakir such as himself. By then Amal reveals that he feels a sort of darkness coming over his eyes since the morning.

Everything seems like a dream to him, so he longs to be quiet. Won’t the King’s letter come, Amal enquires. Fakir says that the King’s letter is sure to come.

The doctor enters and asks Amal how does he feel today. He replies that he feels awfully well today and all pains seem to have left him. The word ‘awfully well’ makes the doctor anxious. He realizes it is a bad sign.

The doctor informs Madhav that it is impossible to hold him much longer and it seems that he has got a new exposure to wind. But Madhav assures him that he did his best to secure him. The doctor says that he has felt a peculiar quality in the air, a fearful drought through his front door which is most hurtful.

The doctor advises him to keep off visitors at least for three to four days. The Windows should be shut well enough to ensure the sun rays don’t enter the room to keep the patient awake unnecessarily. By then Madhav observes Amal’s eyes are shut up and it seems he is sleeping.

The headman enters and the doctor leaves saying that he will send a heavy dose which may save Amal.

Gaffer tells the headman to keep his voice down as Amal is asleep. Amal raises up from bed however, and says that he can hear everything including a far away noise. He feels like his mother and father are sitting by his bed and speaking to him.

The headman jokingly tells Amal showing a blank paper that this is a letter from the King informing that the King visits him shortly. Amal hopes that he will receive his letter from the King, so he is ready to wipe the dust off his feet.

The gong of the watchman is heard and the evening star shows up but can’t be seen from inside as all windows are shut up.

A knocking at the door is heard and the King’s Herald enters to announce that the King is coming this night at the time of the second watch. He also informs that the King sends his greatest physician to attend on his young friend (Amal).

The Royal Physician enters and opens all the doors and windows of Amal’s room. Amal feels extremely well and sees all the stars now twinkling from the other side.

Amal is ready to leave along with the King when he visits him. He requests the Royal Physician to permit the headman to stay with him as he is the friend who brought the King’s letter to him.

Madhav whispers to Amal to ask a gift when the King visits him. Amal says that he has made up his mind to ask the king to make him his postman so that he can wander around far and wide, delivering the King’s message door to door.

The Royal Physician silences everyone as sleep comes over to him. He asks the oil lamps to be blown out so that only the starlight may stream in.

Madhav becomes nervous and asks Gaffer why are they darkening the room and how will starlight help. Gaffer says him to not to disbelieve things anymore.

Sudha enters calling for Amal. The physician says he is asleep. Sudha requests to allow her to give some flowers to Amal. She asks the physician when will he be awake. The physician says that he will be when the king comes and calls him.

Sudha requests the physician to whisper into Amal’s ears that she hasn’t forgotten him and she has returned as she promised him earlier that day, not realising that Amal is dead.

The Post Office Characters

The play features several important characters that include the protagonist Amal, his adopted father Madhav and so on. Let’s see the list of characters in ‘The Post Office’:


Amal is the tragic hero, the protagonist of ‘The Post Office’. He is a young, lonely boy who is confined to his bed because of a serious disease. Nevertheless, through the imagination, his physical inability to roam around freely is not a barrier to the virtual exploration.

He craves affection and friendship and seeks it in anything real or imagined. The audience can relate with Amal’s innocence, curiosity, and desire to have affection and friendship from anyone.


Amal refers to Madhav as his uncle, though technically, Madhav is his adopted father, a kind and compassionate man who helps Amal in giving him the shelter and love.

Madhav’s presence in Amal’s life gives the boy a chance to calm down and feel safe, even though he suffers from a serious illness. This is true because he is a loving father who represents the strength needed to deal with the difficulties of life.


Gaffer is a friend of Madhav, and he takes the position of Fakir or holy man in Amal’s life. He mesmerises Amal with rather fascinating stories which bring to life a colorful and wondrous world.

Some versions of ‘The Post office’ Gaffer is known as as Thakurda. Gaffer/Thakurda character reveals the impact of storytelling and the ability to take Amal out of the place he exists in and give him a certain hope.


Sudha is the daughter of a flower-seller and is met by Amal at some point for the story. She offers to become Amal’s friend and be his company as he spends most of his time alone within four walls.

Amal is rejoiced by his time with Sudha, signifying that friendship and human interaction can bring happiness to one’s lonely life.

The Doctor

Doctor is the caretaker of Amal’s health condition who attends to Amal in case of any ailment. His roles is giving out professional counsel, recommending requisite drugs and courses of action that could help Amal overcome his symptoms.

The Royal Physician

The Royal Physician is a doctor who is often involved in taking care of the King when he is sick. He also visits to look after Amal when is about to die.

He comes to attend to Amal because of the King’s order, as King himself prepares to visit him on knowing about the boy’s serious health and his wish to visit the King at least once in his lifetime.

The Dairyman

The Dairyman is a curd seller who becomes a vital character in ‘The Post Office’, as Amal befriends him at his window. In this scene, Amal who is a very intelligent young boy becomes eager to be like the Dairyman/ he wishes to be a curd seller when he grows up. Amal loves shouting on the streets selling curd like this dairyman.

The Watchman

Watchman’s life routine has a major impact in Amal’s life as he rings bell at regular intervals. The noise of the bell positively influences Amal and offers him a sense of rhythm and joy.

Watchman’s presence provides small joys in Amal’s life that can provide solace and meaning in one’s life.

The Headman

When first introduced, the Headman humiliates Amal and treats him like an idiot. However, he has a change of heart as the story progresses. He gradually learns that Amal has good intentions, and perhaps somehow an inherently good nature.

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