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Reminiscences of Abanindranath Tagore
Thread poster: Subhamay Ray
Subhamay Ray  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:37
English to Bengali
+ ...
Apr 14, 2005

Abanindranath Tagore, a nephew of the poet Rabindranath Tagore, is known to most people as an artist. But he was also a man of letters, a writer who wielded a graceful and poetic pen. Indeed he painted pictures for the children with his words and to look at his word-paintings with the eyes of an adult is a sublime experience.

I have been reading a translation of his Reminiscences. Details about the book may be found here:

A few excerpts :

The notebook which I failed to develop any love for did not produce writing of any worth. This one has long been very close to me, and I have developed a fondness for it. My own tale of weal and woe can only be told to a person I am fond of. I love children, and I give this notebook with my scribbles to them. To those who want to buy my tale of life-long joy and sorrow, I bow from afar. Perhaps they would want to publish it and make a fortune. To those who are eager to listen to me, who come to me now and then and entreat me to tell tales, to them—real kings and queens, the nawabs and the begums of the world of children, do I give these few pages of scribblings. My left-handed salute to the present and would-be stalwarts of children’s literature! But I’ll salute with my right hand all those who listen to my story intently like kings and emperors sitting on tattered mats or simply on the bare ground, who while listening to me reward me with a little smile or a few drops of tears, with a little sigh or a glance of the sleepy eyes and not with an address of honour or a gold medal. To them whose presence lights up my mind I fondly say, ‘‘My humble salute to you! Please listen how I commence my tale.’’

Rows of bevelled pillars stood in pitch-dark night. In between such rows could be seen our small room at the north-east corner of the second floor. An oil-lamp was burning at one corner. Thick curtains made of coarse material covered all the three windows to shut out the cold. A high bedstead canopied by a coarse green mosquito-net stretched nearly all over the room. So high was the door leading into the room that the lamplight did not reach its top. Beside the door there was an iron chest and right in front of it a stake of about three arms’ length pierced through the floor and stood there rather awkwardly. It seemed to have no reason to be there just in the middle of the room. Leaning on it was a boy of about half its length. On top of the stake there was a small hole like a square niche. I felt like peeping through the hole, but, alas! It was far beyond me. Sitting close to the light, I could see my maid Padma pouring and re-pouring hot milk with a silver spoon to cool it. Her dark arm was rising and falling rhythmically. It was all quiet around but for the sound of milk being poured. Looking at the swing of the maid’s dark arm I wished I could reach and stand on the high bedstead. Far beyond the curtain and near the stable gate was the room of Nanda farash , where lame Noto was playing on his violin and muttering in Hindi—one, two, three and four. Getting hint of the hour my maid came, put some half-cooled milk into my gullet and placing me in between three pillows began to whisper a lullaby. The swing of both the song and the stroke of her dark hands slowly and softy dropped me into downy sleep.
Farash—A servant whose duty is to make beds, light lamps, dust furniture, etc.

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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:07
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
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Rabindranath Tagore: my hero Apr 14, 2005

This man was revered as a hero among teenagers when I grew up and I still browse through his quotes from time to time, in English or Dutch translations

One of my favourites is:
"A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it."

What welcome words for a creative but befuddled mind!

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Reminiscences of Abanindranath Tagore

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