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SONALI PUPU MUKHERJEE

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 5/15/2015 |




 We have branded him as an icon. Everywhere. In his province, the Bengal, both West Bengal in India and Bangladesh , the eastern part of the region . In his country, the whole of India. In the whole world. A bearded old sage.A sort of spiritual shaman, Gurudev. And it annoys me. 

Well, I have always loved his music unconsciously, as it was on the lips of my parents all round the day, humming while I brushed my teeth, getting ready for their offices, packing my school bag. Even when we met at the evening ,my father would inevitably quote a few lines of Tagore's poems while taking off his sweat drenched shirt, and my mom would add the next lines while handing him his large glass of water, with a twinkle in her weary eyes. That's what Tagore meant to me, a twinkle in the eyes, a cool refreshment in a fatigued day, a royal richness in a small middle class residence. 

I was a lonely child of working parents. Books were my only friends ,surrounding me lovingly in our one room small flat. 

He became my secret best friend within the age of five. He knew my sorrows of staying alone without my mom ,he spoke about it so fluently in lines of Shishu, the book of verse. He knew my heart's fluttering when the clouds came down grey and heavy at the end of scorching summer day. He knew about my fears as I faced the exams where I had to come out at the top without fail. No matter what I felt he had written about it already in those lovely yellow pages of Rabindra Rachanabali. 

And  he was no old sage. Rather, he was the rebel who challenged the set protocols. Whether it was dress codes of a Congress meeting or a social gathering, he invariably broke rules and wanted to bring about changes. In thoughts, in logical thinking, in day to day life, in relationship equations, everywhere. 

That is why I loved HIM. My fellow rebel with a gentle heart, and aesthetic expression. Oh, and his herculean capacity to endure pain. Pangs of separation. Agony of nearest one's death. One after another. And still the daring to sing. Yes , I drank from his spirited lines like a drought parched tree sucked water from far beneath the ground, grabbed his words of courage as swords to fight battles where love turned into betraying masks, friends turned into scheming foes, and fought. His words bathed my wounds. Made me stand tall in spite of belittling jeers. Reminded me not to tarnish myself by becoming vengeful or malicious. He gently murmured in my ears to carry on my journey. To become a beautiful wandering minstrel, a diva. 

The day my uncle came back in a coffin at the age of forty-eight, leaving behind my cousin sister of sixteen years, the same age as mine, my dad sang Tagore's song throughout the night after coming back from the burning ghat. When my pa prepared for his own departure he sang the beautiful songs to me, one after another preparing me for the pain. I walked down the steps of Ganga with the warm bones of both parents holding the hands of Tagore's words. And he never left my side. 

For all seasons, all nuances of love, all scars of disappointment, pain, happiness, joy, and especially the fights I call upon myself as I refuse to compromise, as I refuse to become gravely serious, Tagore or rather Rabibabu as I love to call him, stands beside me. All 365 days of the year. Always. With my prayers at the pink light of dawn. With my hymns at the violet depth of night. Rabindranath Tagore.The eternal protocol breaking knight of Achalayatan and Tasher Desh. The eternal lover, 'chiro sakha'. 

[SONALI PUPU MUKHERJEE]
        

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