Thursday, April 11, 2019

J: Jorasanko #AtoZChallenge

Jorasanko is a neighbourhood of north Kolkata so called because of the two (jora) wooden or bamboo bridges (sanko) that spanned a small stream at this point.
It is famous for the Jorasanko Thakur Bari which is the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore (Thakur in Bengali) who needs no introduction, but apart from that, it was also home to Kaliprasanna Singha (author, playwright, and philanthropist), Krishnadas Pal (Indian journalist, orator and the editor of the Hindoo Patriotand others and can be termed as the cradle of the Bengal Renaissance. This area was earlier known as Mechua Bazar.  

In school, we were made to study ‘Shahaj Path” when we started reading and writing Bengali. Although 'Shahaj Path' means 'Easy Reading",, to me at least, it was anything but. And yes, it was written by Rabindranath Tagore. While growing up I was never a big fan of Tagore’s works. Liking Tagore was too clichéd and common (if you know what I mean) and I did not understand a lot of it. The rebel in me just could not accept that I enjoyed reading his poems, specially the historical ones in "Kotha O Kahini". The fact that we ended up reading a lot of Tagore’s works in school was another sure shot way to ensure we never would want to read it ourselves. 
BUT. (There’s always a but). 
My father used to quote from Tagore. He had a few favourite lines and even now whenever I hear those lines, no matter what the context, his face floats in front of me, accompanied by a smile that I would kill to see again. He laughingly used to say that whenever you are at a loss of words, look up Tagore’s works, he will have said something! I started reading Tagore’s poems after my father died, really. I memorised lines that struck a chord and discovered for myself that indeed Rabindranath Tagore has something or the other to say about practically everything!  
My father also used to tease me that someday I would fall in love with a Bengali man and the love sonnets would come handy. Well. I did fall in love with a Bengali but his knowledge of sonnets were (thankfully) as wanting as mine! 
I leave you with a few lines of poetry, which still whispers to me in my father’s voice, in my ears: 

“Aji hote shoto botshor porey
Ke tumi poricho amar ei kobita khani
Koutuhol bhore,
Aji hote shoto botshor porey.”

The poem goes on for some more lines. Loosely translated, (by Tagore himself), it means: 

“Who are you, reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence?
         I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, 
         or one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
         Open your doors and look abroad.
         From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the
         vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
         In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning,             sending its glad voice across an hundred years..”

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