Read the passage. Then answer the question.
excerpt from “Living or Dead?” by Rabindranath Tagore
(This excerpt from “Living or Dead?” contains authentic references to cultural and historical practices of
the past, so it is authentic to the time period and the place, India. Many of these practices would be
considered archaic or inappropriate by today’s standards, but they serve as an important lesson to help
readers imagine what life was like in other times and places, so they are better able to understand and
appreciate the evolution of societies over time.)
The widow in the house of Saradasankar, the Ranihat zemindar, had no kinsmen of her father's family.
One after another all had died. Nor had she in her husband's family any one she could call her own,
neither husband nor son. The child of her brother-in-law Saradasankar was her darling. For a long time
after his birth, his mother had been very ill, and the widow, his aunt Kadambini, had fostered him. If a
woman fosters another's child, her love for him is all the stronger because she has no claim upon him—
no claim of kinship, that is, but simply the claim of love. Love cannot prove its claim by any document
which society accepts, and does not wish to prove it; it merely worships with double passion its life's
uncertain treasure. Thus all the widow's thwarted love went out towards this little child. One night in
Sraban, Kadambini died suddenly. For some reason her heart stopped beating. Everywhere else the
world held on its course; only in this gentle little breast, suffering with love, the watch of time stood still
Lest they should be harassed by the poike, four of the zemindar's Brahmin servants took away the body,
without ceremony, to be burned. The burning-ground of Ranihat was very far from the village. There was
a hut beside a tank, a huge banian near it, and nothing more. Formerly, a river, now completely dried up,
ran through the ground, and part of the watercourse had been dug out to make a tank for the performance
of funeral rites. The people considered the tank as part of the river and reverenced it as such.
Taking the body into the hut, the four men sat down to wait for the wood. The time seemed so long that
two of the four grew restless and went to see why it did not come. Nitai and Gurucharan being gone,
Bidhu and Banamali remained to watch over the body.
It was a dark night of Sraban. Heavy clouds hung in a starless sky. The two men sat silent in the dark
room. Their matches and lamp were useless. The matches were damp, and would not light, for all their
efforts, and the lantern went out.
After a long silence, one said: "Brother, it would be good if we had a bowl of tobacco. In our hurry we
The other answered: "I can run and bring all we want."
Understanding why Banarnali wanted to go (from fear of ghosts, the burning-ground being considered
haunted), Bidhu said: "I daresay! Meanwhile, I suppose I am to sit here alone!"