25th Baishakh, 1941,Tagore’s final birthday and the last song he ever wrote: an account by Santidev Ghosh

“The whole of Bengal was taken up by the approaching celebrations of Gurudev’s birthday on 25th Baishakh in 1348 (Bengali calendar); I came back to Santiniketan at this time and went to meet him. He asked, ‘What is happening here on the day?’ I understood from his words that he wished that the day be celebrated through music and dance. I went to him on an evening before the day and asked, ‘Should I sing the song ‘Abar Jodi Iccha Koro’ (If you wish for me to return) for the program?’ He refused to select the song saying, ‘You decide on what you want to sing, why should I do it?’ A little later he spoke at length about the song I had suggested. It became obvious to me that he was still hurt by the thought that his country never understood him completely. He said, ‘When I pass away, they will understand what I did for my country.’ After a few moments he sang the song ‘Sharthok Janam Amar Jonmecchi Ei Deshey’ ( Blessed is my birth for I have been born in this land) with a lot of feeling. I realised that even though he was filled with pain over the lack of understanding, his love for his country would never be lessened.

The next morning I went to him and said, ‘It does not seem right that you have written poems and given lectures on the occasion of your birthday but you have not written a song. The whole country is joining hands to celebrate this birthday, if a song is not composed the entire event will be left lacking.’

He replied saying, ‘What a strange request to bring to me. What will people say if I write a song for my own birthday? They are not blind; they will think that I am trying to draw attention to myself. You try and get one of the major poets of today to write the song.’ He then started naming them and I began to smile. He asked, ‘Why, do you think they cannot write poetry?’ I answered, ‘But why ask anyone else at all? When you wrote poems for your own birthday, did anyone blame you?’ He then agreed and asked me to get all the birthday poems from the office. He then made some changes to some lines of the poem Pnochishey Baishakh (The 25th Of Baishakh) from the collection known as Purabi and set it to tune. The day was the twenty third of Baishakh. The next morning he listened to me sing the song and said, ‘Yes, it is alright now.’

Santidev Ghosh

(Translation, mine)

Follow the link to hear the song:

This entry was posted in Poetry, Tagore, Translated Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s