Dhumketu is the pen name of Gourishankar Govardhandas Joshi. He is a creative writer and one of the pioneer writers of Gujrati stories. He wrote stories based on historical and social subjects. He also wrote plays and travelogues.
The theme of this story is about human emotions. A father, Ali, who waited for a letter from his beloved daughter was mocked by everyone at the post office. Ali is the protagonist of the story. One day the postmaster who once laughed at Ali faced a similar kind of emotion when his daughter fell sick in some other city and he was desperately waiting for a letter from her. He then realized the pain that Ali went through and empathized with him. It is very sad that many times we overlook or ignore the feelings of others and treat them indifferently.
The coachman Ali dressed in torn clothes, that barely covered his body walked all through the town every day for five years. He would keep tightening his clothes to guard his body against the bitter cold outside. Every day, early morning he trudged with his walking stick towards the post office quietly and squatted on the veranda of the post office. He always sat on the same spot and observed the clerk inside the room, separating the letters by calling out names. He called out names after names and read out the addresses written on the letters. He then flung them to the postman who waited to put them in his bag for delivery. Ali waited patiently outside to hear his name called out. In that course of action, one day, Ali suddenly heard his name being called. He got up and looked at the sky with gratitude to his God. He went inside and told the clerk that he heard his name being called but the clerk retorted. He said there was no letter for him. The clerk told the postmaster that Ali was mad and he troubled everyone in the post office. Disappointed, Ali went and sat on the bench, which he had been doing for the past five years.
Ali was a very clever hunter. He was a very skilled shooter and there was not even a day when he did not hunt. It had become a habit for him. He could shoot out a partridge or a hare from the bush, which was not even seen by the dogs. Besides hunting, he also went fishing with his friends. With age, he had to give up his hunting. Ali’s only daughter Miriam got married and left him. She went with her husband who was a soldier in the army posted in Punjab.
For five years, Ali had no news about his beloved daughter for whom he had been living then. He was like a young partridge without their parents. He could no longer enjoy the pleasure of his old hunting days. Obviously, he understood the realities of love and separation. Ali became lonely after his daughter Miriam went away with her husband. He started taking more interest in his surroundings and he admired the green fields and concluded that the entire world was built with love and separation is inevitable. He wept bitterly thinking of it.
From that day, he woke up at 4 o'clock every morning and went to the post office with lots of hope and faith. He never received a single letter in his whole life yet he came to the post office daily hoping that one day he would receive it. The post office became the place of pilgrimage for Ali. When people got to know about his habit, they mocked him. They also called his name even though there was no letter for him. They enjoyed seeing him jump up and coming to the door. Ali did not give up on his faith and patience. He came every day and went back empty-handed.
One day when everyone had gone and Ali too got up from his seat to go home, he was noticed by the postmaster. When the post master inquired, the peon said that he was a mad man.
For many days Ali was not seen in the post office. Even though none in the post office had any sympathy for him, yet they were all curious to know what had gone wrong with him. At last, he came one day. This time he couldn’t breathe properly. He went to the postmaster and asked if he had any letter from his daughter, Miriam. The postmaster replied angrily. With the hope that the postmaster would deliver the letter to him, Ali told him to write his name in case he got a letter from Miriam. The postmaster lost his temper and asked him to go away.
Ali left the post office helplessly, with tears in his eyes. Ali saw a clerk coming from behind. Ali talked to him and offered him five gold coins. He asked him for a favour. He requested him to forward his letter from Miriam to his grave. After that, no one saw Ali in the post office and no one bothered to ask for him either.
One day, the postmaster was in trouble. His daughter fell ill and she lived in another town. He was anxiously waiting for news about her but there was no letter for him. Looking through the mail, he found a letter addressed to Ali. He was shocked to see the letter. He called his clerk Lakshmi Das and asked him to search for Ali and give the letter to him. The postmaster could not sleep the whole night. He waited anxiously for some news about his daughter. He went to the post office at three in the morning. He then realized Ali’s pain that he went through for five years. At five in the morning, he heard a knock at the door. He saw Ali standing. He gave Miriam’s letter to him but Lakshmi Das confirmed later that Ali passed away three months ago. The postmaster was shocked to hear. He could not relate to the reality of the knock on the door and tears in Ali’s eyes. That evening Lakshmi Das and the postmaster went to Ali’s grave and delivered Miriam’s letter for which he had waited for the past five years.
Q1. Why Did Ali Give Up Hunting?
Ans. Ali gave up hunting because he grew old and he did not have the stamina to hunt the hares and partridges like before.
Q2. Why was Ali Lonely?
Ans. Ali was lonely because his only daughter got married and went with her husband who was a soldier in the army posted in Punjab.
Q3. How Did the Postmaster Realize Ali’s Pain?
Ans. One day, the postmaster's daughter fell ill who lived in another town. The postmaster was anxious to hear some news about his daughter but he did not get any letter. It was then he realized the anxiety that Ali had about his daughter for the past five years.
Q4. Where Did the Clerk and the Postmaster Finally Deliver Ali’s Letter?
Ans. The clerk and the postmaster finally delivered Ali’s letter at his grave.