I fled home when I was 15 year old teen. Never I thought what I was leaving behind. I only brood a charm, and that of an adventure. But for what? I never asked to know. I left behind a wonderful family. My parents and seven of my siblings. I was the fourth. To me a boy from a backward district town of a few thousand populations, I wonder now, did Rabindranath Tagore had any relevance to me?

The year was 1962. Tagore was physically dead by then. When I reached the unknown metropolis of Kolkata, the capital of undivided Bengal a mere 13 years back, was still struggling tooth and nail to overcome the devastation caused a decade ago by rampant killings and mistrust. Kolkata then was a haven for the rich landowners from neighboring districts when the great city’s other self was for the multitude of uprooted homeless from across the newly drawn border. I was in the later group. Was Tagore relevant to me at that social turmoil?

Yes, surprisingly, he was. His patriotic lyrics enthused the struggling mass. He greatly influenced us, who found themselves bystander at their own end game. The words of Tagore were good enough to inflict determination, diligent and careful steps in strengthening a just human society around. ‘Ekhon aar deri noy, dhor go tora, haate haate dhorgo (Nothing more to wait for, now hold the hands. Hold you all hands on hands)’-- I was reassuring.

The Chinese war was turning point in my emotional growth graph. It made this Teen more resolute. The All India Radio, TV came to Kolkata ten years later, used to play Tagore’s songs all through the day to turn the population unbendable. I could pick up my slice from them to buoy up my low fortitude: ‘Sankocher Bihbalata nijer-i apoman (Wavering is an insult to self)’--I would often buzz it in marching tune to shake off my rustic faltering.

Those days I was not big enough to understand Tagore, nor I had enough money to buy a Tagore. Even so I knew from my school days, he was a great poet, a great man to adore.

One day while walking and stopping at will by the shops of old books along the railing of Presidency College, I came across a tattered volume of ‘Chhinna Patravali (Scattered Letters)’ by Tagore. I was stuck to it for a while, and by parting some coins, I could bring the collection to my one room ‘home’. The letters speak of Tagore’s mind and record all projections of his unmatched talent and brilliance. And the book held me tight to Tagore, the greatest guide and friend to any age. Till today this book is my Tagore.

I could enjoy the book as a Tagore capsule, as a Tagore package. I read it again and again from any page to any page at any point of time and enrich and re-enrich myself every moment. Now I can dare to travel to several corners of Tagore-galaxy which, to me, a part of the unexplored Tagore-universe. I trust, whatever decent human being I have cut out of myself, is mostly by reading him. Reading My Tagore.



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