THE EYES HAVE IT
THE EYES HAVE IT
Ruskin Bond’s short story, The Eyes Have It is based on the theme of vision and blindness. People who do not have eyesight use their insight to visualise the world around them. The insight of the mind becomes more powerful to them than the common five senses. Besides handling the theme of vision in blindness the narrator refers to the theme of blindness in love. He dwells on the importance of a shortlived encounter and states that inner eye bestows one with greater perception than normal eyesight.
In the first part of the story, the narrator had been seen travelling alone in a train compartment. He attempted to initiate a conversation with a fellow passenger. But he realized that the girl was surprised by his remark. Then she said that she had not seen anyone sitting in the dark corner of the seat. Both of them were blind but they did not disclose their personal infirmity. The male passenger thought that he would continue to play the game of deception. He imagined an ‘interesting face in his mind.
The girl would get down at Saharanpur. Her aunt would receive her. The narrator humorously remarked, “Aunts are usually formidable creatures’. The narrator was heading towards Dehra and then to Mussoorie. The girl eagerly hoped to visit Mussoorie for she loved the hills in October.
The conversation continued. The narrator replied that he too enjoyed the scenic beauty of the hillside with Dahlias blooming around the place. When the tourists left the place, the roads looked ‘almost deserted’. The little girl wondered why her fellow passenger never looked out of the window. Then the male passenger pretended to look out of the window as if he was ‘studying the landscape’ minutely. It seemed rather strange to the narrator that the trees moved but the passengers inside the compartment stood still.
The girl explained that it was nothing but an optical illusion. When he complimented the girl for having a pretty face, she remarked that the narrator was a ‘gallant man. She wondered why he remained so serious and thoughtful. The narrator observed that he liked to be reticent. The short journey came to an end. The girl got down, leaving a longing lingering spell behind. But the truth that the girl was blind came out in the final part of the story. The third passenger entered the compartment and revealed that ‘she was completely blind’.
The title directly refers to the story of the two blind travellers on the train. It appears to be a prologue in itself. But it has a meaning and significance of its own. There is also a note of irony in it.
In the final part of the story, we realize what the author intends to convey. At first, the two passengers try to conceal their personal infirmity from each other. Although the two characters do not have a vision, yet their inner eye is sharper than those having eyes. Thus blindness can be a blessing in disguise at times. It enables one to perceive the world that lies hidden to ordinary vision. So the title introduces the theme of vision and blindness and throws a subtle hint over the situation of the fellow-passenger after the revelation of truth.
Once the narrator was going to Dehra by train. Then a girl got in. Her parents came to see her off. They advised her to be careful about the things and people before they finally left. The narrator thought about his total blindness and began to guess the image of the girl from the sound of her voice and slippers.
At first, the narrator himself attempted to initiate a conversation with the girl. The girl was startled by his voice. She had no idea that anyone was sitting in a dark corner of the compartment. People who are blind are gifted with inner eyes. They can visualise better than those having ordinary eyes. The narrator thought that it should not be too difficult to hide his infirmity.
Their conversation continued. The girl would meet her aunt at Saharanpur. But the narrator would go to Dehra first and then to Mussoorie. The girl would like to visit Mussoorie someday as she was fond of the hills in October’. The narrator also affirmed that ‘October is the best time’ to enjoy the beauty of the hill. Then she wondered why the narrator never looked out of the window. Immediately G the narrator came to the window ledge and made a pretence of ‘studying the landscape’ intently.
The narrator and the girl, however, talked about optical illusion among the passengers and animals of the forest near Dehra. Then he boldly remarked that the girl had an ‘interesting face’. The girl replied that she was tired of people telling about her ‘pretty face’. She regarded the narrator as gallant but very serious.
The girl was glad as her journey was a short one. She would get down soon but the narrator thought of carrying in his mind the warm companionship of the girl for the rest of his journey. When the girl got up to collect her things, he wondered how she might have looked like. The train reached Saharanpur. The narrator heard the voice of the girl’s aunt amid noise and confusion at the station. When the girl bade him goodbye, he wanted to touch her once and feel her gentle warmth. But only the scent of perfume lingered in his mind.
After some confusion, another passenger got in. The narrator got himself ready to play a game of deception again. The train left the station and the narrator was lost in dreamy contemplation. The new passenger intruded the narrator’s world of thought. He remarked that he was not as attractive as the girl who had just left the train. The narrator asked if the fellow traveller had noticed how her hair was. The new passenger replied in haste that he had no time to observe it. What he noticed were her beautiful eyes. But they were completely blind.
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS:
The story The Eyes Have It begins abruptly and ends with a sudden twist at the end. It revolves around three main characters. The few words exchanged among them hold the interest of the story. Ruskin Bond presents his idea in a lucid conversational style. He shows his marvellous craftsmanship and novelty of thought in the development of his theme.
The author uses the imagery of the train journey and the rail station to present ‘slice of life’. At the same time, the story goes beyond the confines of the carriage and the station to include a wide range of human emotions. The nameless passengers become symbolic metaphors for the common people. But the author always wants to universalise his characters. So there are no names of identification for the characters in the story.
Besides handling the theme of vision and blindness, the author introduces the theme of blindness in love with genial humour and graceful expression. His narrative technique has a great affinity with Guy De Maupassant. He withholds the truth until the end of the story.
The narrator himself was the main protagonist of the story. He intended to hide his blindness. He talked with the girl cautiously. Yet he was well aware that he was ‘completely blind’. But he had not lost his perception of beauty. He narrated his bygone memories of ‘the hills in October’ with photographic details and pictorial image. Little did he know that he was being deceived in the same game by his fellow traveller.
The narrator was disillusioned after the revelation made by the third passenger. The epiphany revealed a note of shock and surprise at the end. The story ended on a note of irony. The plot of the story is well-knit and the author shows his mastery in the art of characterization.
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