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     Volume 5 Issue 95 | May 19, 2006 |

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A Poetic Tribute

Badrul Haque

This little flute of a reed
Thou hast carried over hills and dales
And hast breathed through it melodies
eternally new.

These lines from Tagore were written on a season's greeting card that had arrived from far-off America along with a reed, - a real one- glued to it. I was profoundly captivated by the delicate charm the lines exuded. Lyrical elation aside, they scaled a new height in dimensional reach. The greeting card sent by Dave Hopkins, my friend, is now a memento, - in exclusion of the ritualistic ones.

Even in our daily chores, we are not far away from Tagore, he touches us intimately. To keep to my usual exercise regime, I took a walk to the bridge at Road-7, Dhanmondi. The flowers, trees and the horizon were still shrouded in a veil of secrecy. A transient misty haze hung in the day-night interlude. The air was balmy, refreshing, -- and the eyes were in respite from the glare that come pouring from the vivid summer sky. Overhead birds could be heard chirping across the lake.

The water view of the lake was healing, a sigh of relief in the non-stop urban conversation. I got a nostalgic flashback of my village river that I visited last time.

The podium that sits on the edge of the lake water had a small crowd of health-seekers. Some boys and girls were lost in their musical outpourings of life and nature, - a profusion that was precious beyond measure. The surroundings were idyllic, but the divinity of Tagore songs lent it a perspective.

A day at Santiniketan. Rabindranath was imparting lessons to students in open air. A, magical quiet charged the surroundings. As on any other day, a motely crowd, young and old, had gathered, whose main attraction was, of course, to get a glimpse of the poet. In the crowd, the poet however did not miss to spot an octogenarian who leaning on a stick remained standing for long braving a tortuous sun. The poet stood up from his seat, walked straight to the old man and asked: Why have you come here? The reply was simple: To see Rabindranath. The poet was overwhelmed. For a while, it seemed silence had seized the time. For the old man, it was a dream come true, for, even in his wildest dream he could ever imagine that he would in his life-time see Rabindranath in person standing before him. With his falling eye- sight, he tried to see the poet with all his curiosity in the world. His stretched his unsteady hands to touch the feet of the poet. But that was not to be. The poet caught hold of those hands,lowered his head and said, "these should be here on my head and not on my feet. So was the episode that had got lost in the tapestry of time that was woven between the old man and the poet. A poetry was indeed born at that point of time.

(To note, the story was narrated to me decades ago by a resident of Birbhum, West-Bengal who was present on the occasion.)


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