Reading Tagore

​I wonder, awestruck, what it must be like to read Tagore on the banks of a river. That expanse of water, shimmering in the sun and the gentle breeze, bringing in a sense of calm. I wonder, what it must be to read, to muse, to dream away. To know that I have a few complete days to soak it all in-the sun, the peace and the magic of the word. No clocks, no routine, just the dreamworld. 

It is huge chunks of time like these that really free up the mind; when the thoughts can wander carefree and the memories tip toe in, unbidden. Every little thought and feeling seems intense, painted in myriad colours. 

These moments, frozen in time, are the ones that help me find myself. Every movement is deliberate, born out of choice. The book is a weight in the hands, the rustle of the pages like music to the ears. I notice the ink stains and the hastily scribbled notes in the margins, a bookworm’s version of a link in the text. 

What would it be like to read him, rolling the words about in my mind, wondering what those words would be in Bangla, longing to hear them being said aloud. Would the words find an echo in the lapping of the water? Would the weeds sway to the unheard tune of the flute? Would the dying rays of the sun illuminate the water? Skirting the waves and painting them a reddish orange? Would the sunset bring peace and closure along with the whispers of the next morning’s promise? 

Where time seems to stand still, is where the mind finds itself. 

Prayer

image
Ink and Crayon on paper. Signed 'Rabindra' in Bengali

I touch God in my song
as the hill touches the far-away sea
with its waterfall.

Rabindranath Tagore(1861-1941)

Free Writing for Writing 101

I celebrate the three songs I love the most…

The first one definitely would be ‘Yoon hi chala chal raahi’ in Hindi from the film Swades’. It reflects the moods of my days. From the time when the seconds and minutes felt heavy to an unbearable lightness of being, the journey has been long but not difficult or tedious. If anything, I look back on my dark days with fondness, for they led me to light. And now that I know where I belong, I do not intend to go back to the despair and the hopelessness. I intend to walk towards light.

The second song that I love to hum is Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Ekala Chalo Re..’. It is sung in Bangla and I do not understand the language. I can just connect with the inspiration and whenever I feel that my beliefs are out of sync with the crowd, or whenever I feel unsupported or criticised, I think of Tagore and his beautiful rendering of the song. His voice reminds me of dawn, still cold and grey but soon to get warmer and brighter. I, then think of images in monochrome, as they were in his time. I draw strength from the exhortation to ” walk alone, if you believe”.

Another one of my favourites is ‘Been’ sung by Punjabi artist Kanwar Grewal. It transports me to the world of mysticism and Sufi devotion. His raw voice, coupled with his evident connection with a higher power makes me feel strong. The song is full-throated and full of energy.

From a Hindi film song that mirrors my philosophy of life, to an inspirational snippet from the bard Tagore, to a devotional song, sung in my mother-tongue, I feel rich to have them on my phone. I do not need any other playlists.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield but to my own strength.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom.
Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone;
but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.

Rabindranath Tagore in Fruit -Gathering (1861-1941)
A poet and a playwright, novelist and philosopher, he was the first non European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.