Incomprehensible: Rabindranath Tagore

The professor tried to explain the meaning of drama
It grew beyond comprehension
Let me talk about that play of mine
The title is ‘Patralekha’
Kushalsen, its hero
Bidding goodbye to Nabani he went abroad
They would marry when he returned four years later
Nabani threw herself on the bed to weep
It felt like a death sentence of four years
Kushal had no need for Nabani on his road to love
She was necessary to pave the way for his foreign trip
Nabani knew this
She had vowed to win his heart with utmost effort
From time to time Kushal,
Tripping on civility and good sense, had been rude to her
She had borne this quietly
Accepting her own unworthiness,
Her quarrel was with herself
She had assumed her poverty would bring her victory one day
The way the grass gradually embraces the unyielding mountain
This was like the artwork of her love
Invoking the beauty of the heartless stone by chipping away
Incessantly with her injured heart
Today the object of Nabani’s constant devotion went far away
The plate of her sorrows was laden with tear-soaked gifts
From today there would be sadness but not the its holy offerings
Now the road to their relationship
Lay only across the bridge spanning the two sides with letters
But Nabani did not know how to lay out her heart
She only knew how to garnish her serving with care
How to create magic with orchids in the flower-vase
To spread out in secret,
Away from Kushal’s eyes,
The rug she had made with her own hands
Where he rested his feet
Kushal returned home
The wedding day was finalised
He had brought a ring from England
He visited Nabani’s home to put it on her finger
There he discovered she had vanished without an address
In her diary she had written
“The one I loved was someone else
Not the one I found in the letters”
Meanwhile Kushal was convinced
His letters were like Meghdoot’s in prose
Eternal treasures for parted lovers
Today he had lost his beloved
But his heart did not allow him to lose his letters
His Mumtaz had escaped, but the Taj Mahal had remained
Under a pseudonym he published the letters with the title ‘Bewildered Lover’
Nabani’s character
Was analysed threadbare
Some said a Bengali woman
Was being led by the author
Towards Ibsen’s message of freedom
Towards hell, said others
Several people came up to me to ask
‘How would I know,’ I told them
I said, ‘Even the gods do not know, claim the scriptures’
My reader friends said
‘Very well, we won’t ask about the woman
Like the perplexed gods
But the man?
Will he also remain shrouded in eternal mystery?
What magic made this fellow come around?’
I said,
‘Be it a woman or a man, neither is transparent
Only the happiness or misery they provide is clear
Don’t ask questions
Just read what Kushal said.’
Kushal said, ‘For four years Nabani was out of sight,
As though she was out of all creation
Only her sweetness remained in my mind
All else became insignificant.
It was easy to write her letters in a beautiful mould
I felt her absence, made demands
Unrestricted faith in her love
Moistened my heart, made it proud
In every letter I deluded myself with my own language
Metaphors welded with the warmth of my writing
I built the image of her memory like a goddess
She became a new composition
That’s why the Bible says
In the beginning was the Word.’
My reader friends asked again
‘Is this the truth
Or the heroism of theatre?’
I said, ‘How would I know?’

[ Original poem: Durbodh ]

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