Kalyan Bandyopadhyay: At that time it was still a river, not a cesspool. We sat at one corner. Professor Lipika Sengupta told us to celebrate the rare moment with Rabindrasangeet
I have reached in an age where past is getting longer and the future shorter. Of course, this is nothing new. It happens to everyone who lives a little more time in this world, fortunately or unfortunately.
It was 1971. I was a student of Jadavpur University. After a tumultuous past the campus became relatively calm. My address for the time being was, room no 37, PG Hostel, Jadavpur University. My parents, living in a far-off village of Murshidabad District, were quite apprehensive, particularly my mother. Her condition was like ‘Sarbajaya’ in Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito. It was very difficult to make her realize that the situation particularly in Jadavpur University campus, was no more volatile. Now, at my present age, I can sense the shape of her anxiety, her fear of the unknown.
Our department arranged for an educational tour. It was decided that we would first go to Agra, then New Delhi and finally to Chandigarh.
The journey started. The name of the train was ToofanMail. (There is no reason to chuckle my dear reader! At that time, it was not at all a bad arrangement.) The train started at 9.35 am and reached Agra next day.
We put up at a hotel. As it was the month of March, the weather was fine. We refreshed ourselves, completed our lunch. Professor Roderigues, our teacher, advised us to take rest for few hours and at night we would go to Tajmahal.
At dusk we proceeded towards the famous ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river. By the time we reached there, it was already dark. Somebody amongst us said, ‘We are entering the Tajcomplex in Amabashya (new moon phase).’ Generally people throng here at the night of Kojagori Lakshmi Pujaor at least in a moonlit night. The complex was totally desolate. Silently we proceeded towards Taj.
At that time there was no restriction to descend to the area of main Samadhi. There was only one person in the entire complex to look after and one lamp. We saw the two Samadhis side by side in the flickering light of that dim kerosene lamp. We stayed a while and silently came out of that area and went to the bank of Yamuna river.
At that time it was still a river, not a cesspool. We sat at one corner. Professor Lipika Sengupta told us to celebrate the rare moment with Rabindrasangeet. We had some accomplished singers amongst us, like Arundhuti and Atanu. Atanu, son of famous author Prabodhkumar Sanyal, later established himself as an artist besides his career in academics.
They sang some immemorable songs. Then my turn came. I am not at all a singer, so there was no hesitation or trepidation on my part! (Besides, this type of opportunity rarely comes in life.) In that surreal atmosphere; the song,immediately came to my mind, was based on the Raga Darbari Kanara—‘E baar neerab kore daao he tomaarmukhar kobire.’
After that we sat there for sometime without any words. The serene atmosphere, sequestered ambience, the beauty of the Taj and my friends’ beautiful Rendition of Rabindrasangeet made all of us speechless. We enjoyed the night and its tranquility thoroughly and discovered,there was no dearth of beauty of Taj even at a dark night under star-spangled sky.
We felt it and silently enjoyed it.
Words: Kalyan Bandyopadhyay
About the author: Kalyan Bandyopadhyay is an ex-student of Jadavpur University, an ex-teacher and now a superannuated man spending time with his little granddaughter. Loves to read books, listen to music and dreams always like the ’old man’ of Hemingway.