Discuss the role of Bindu in Tagore’s The Wife’s Letter

Bindu is the second important character of Rabindranath’s short story The Wife’s Letter. She is introduced rather later on, long after Mrinal’s married life has started. Bindu is the younger sister of Mrinal’s elder sister-in-law. She is forced to seek shelter in her sister’s house under the freak of misfortune.

As a matter of fact, after the death of her widow mother, Bindu is turned out of her house by her tyrannical cousins. She gets accommodation in her sister’s house but is treated as an undesirable intruder, even by the maid-servants, in the house. She comes across Mrinal here who readily takes the charge of her with care and affection and even combats oppositions for her sake.

Unfortunately, Bindu is no strong and spirited woman. She is nervous, shaky and weak. So she suffers meekly and dumbly and lives helplessly in motivated neglect and insult. Mrinal’s interest in and intimacy with her are not at all liked by her husband and his family. They are all keen to get them separated. So the effort starts to get rid of Bindu by getting her married. Bindu is scared, for she possesses no quality to have a match for her. She entreats Mrinal to let her remain unmarried. She has her womanly intuition that marriage will simply lead her from
the frying pan to the fire.

Mrinal has no power to stop the proposed marriage of Bindu. She can comfort her and assure her of her constant support. So Bindu gets married and strangely enough in the groom’s house against all usual norms.

Here begins Bindu’s worse misfortune. Her husband is starkly mad. This hard truth was kept concealed before the marriage. She raises no question, demands no justice, but seeks only a doubt, a fault, but not unnatural to a helpless, almost abandoned girl. Bindu is terribly frightened and flees away from her husband’s house to shelter in a corner, even in the cattle shed. The utter destitution of womanhood under the rigors of a man-ridden society is glaring in her lot.

Of course, Mrinal is true to her words and promptly accords protection to her. She even threatens to go for legal action against such a fraudulent marriage. But what can an average Bengalee housewife do against a heartless, exacting social order? Her husband is cold and sarcastic. His family is hostile.

The weak, ignorant girl in Bindu is, however, sensible enough. She understands well the helpless situation of her only friend and well-wisher, Mrinal. Bindu decides firmly to spare her from all complications and harassment because of her. She remains true to her stand and returns no more.

Bindu rather suffers in silence. She returns to her husband’s home only to flee away therefrom in fear and pain to her cousins who hurriedly take her back thereto. The young woman has suffered much under the thorny yoke of a cruel social system. She bleeds terribly but silently and puts an end to all pains to herself and troubles to others by setting fire on her cloth and killing herself thereby. She gets relief from her tyrannical cousins, mad husband and unkind fellow people in death.

Bindu’s death is tragic, nay horrible, and amply bears out the helpless plight of womanhood in the fetters of a male-dominated society. Yet, in her mode of death in burning herself, she shows her power of endurance that only death can end. Suffering seems fated to her in life and in death, but death is no ignominy to her. In Mrinal’s language,

“In that death, she has attained greatness…
…….There she is infinite”.