The Missing Mail

From the Malgudi Days by: R. K. Narayan

Summary

The Mail Man is very social with the rest of the people in their town and goes to Rammanujam's house who is about to get her daughter Kamakshi married. They are struggling to find a suitable husband for Kamakshi for a price of five thousand rupees. Many dates had asked for more money since they do not approve of her appearance. One person in Delhi however seems interested since many letters have been sent to negotiate. They are not sure whether they should bring Kamakshi and show her to the family because it is believed to be a disgrace to show off your daughter. The marriage must be planned before may 20th or the boy would be delayed for 3 years because of a training camp. The price was five thousand rupees for the marriage which is considered to be a lot for this family. Everyone is nervous since if Kamakshi does not get married, if for some reason the wedding cannot occur she will have to wait another 3 years and by then she will be considered "too old" to get married. The wedding goes great and ten days after the wedding Kamakshi says that her uncle's brother is very sick in Salem. Ramanujam then gets a telegram that says that he has died. The date however of this telegram was one day before the wedding and the reason the letter has not gotten there yet is because the postman held all of the letters until after the wedding. Ramanujam stared at the postman and stated, "I would not have cared to go through the marriage when he was dying" (19).

Meaning

The meaning is the importance of women getting married by the age of 18. This is so significant since the mail man is willing to hold off the fact that her uncle's brother has died. Girls in Indian culture are reared to be obedient, self-sacrificing, modest, nurturant, hardworking and home loving. A woman's primary role in the home is to produce sons, as this will bring honor to her family, and an heir for her husband. This shows that if a women is older than 18 or so, than she may not be as "appealing" to suitors. If Kamakshi had to wait 3 more years, then she may never had gotten married because of her age. Fortunately, everything worked out and she got married for a good price was very happy.


Quotes and Analysis

"The postman stood with bowed head and mumbled, 'You can complain if you like, sir. They will dismiss me. It is a serious offence" (19). The postman feels so strongly that Kamakshi must get married that he decides to hold back that her uncle's brother has died to make sure the wedding continued. It shows that he is wiling to put his job on the line.


"I would not have cared to go through the marriage when he was dying" (19). This stresses the importance of this marriage, how important it is to get married before a specific age.

Connection to Indian History or Culture

Dowry-

In the story, Ramanujam is looking for a husband for Kamakshi at a dowry of five thousand rupees. A dowry is the concept of exchanging money, land, or other assets in exchange for a joining in marriage of two individuals. In the Indian Culture, the dowry represents prosperity and security for the bride in case of divorce. The Indian government, recently, has said that they contend that the practice has become a burden and a disadvantage to the families of the prospective brides. This ties in the story because the bride can only marry the contending husband on May 20, or she would have to wait 3 more years to get married if it did not work out.


Social Culture-

As a whole, the picture of Indian culture in history, depicts a picture of the symbolism of unity and diversity, tolerating and forbearing people, a symbol of non- violence, and cohesive and coordinating qualities. In the story, it tells of a postman who is very social in the town where he delivers mail. He always stops in the houses of his "customers" and chats with them. He very much seemed to care about the upcoming wedding of one of his "customer's" daughters, Kamakshi. This shows the unity and social aspect of the Indian culture.