Birthday Photo, Birthday Poetry


Birthday Photo


This is a very precious photo of my ancestral family. From Benaras (Varanasi), circa 1930. Taken in front of our ancestral house at the death bed of my great grandfather. My father Jitendranath is sitting at the lower right corner (a six-year-old boy, his hands folded). My grandfather Kedarnath is in front of the pillar on the left, with a big moustache, and a cloth towel on his shoulder. Great grandfather Ramdas left Hooghly, Bengal to find prosperity in North India. My father returned to Bengal, married a Bengali Brahmin girl from a very poor family (for no dowry — underlined), and I was born in Calcutta.

I’ve never seen my grandfather. Practically NONE of these people are alive, except for my father. That makes this photo even more important. This picture brings back so many wonderful memories — a lot about the fascinating city of Benaras.

My father has lived 90 years to learn how the Internet and www work. He has talked to me over Skype on my i-Pad. That’s a long journey all the way from the Benaras alley.

Come to think of it: in this photo, I’m actually going back almost 100 years of my identity.


Birthday Poetry

A Rabindranath Tagore song that sums up my thoughts at this time. I translated it last year in April, just before I got ill, and deactivated from Facebook. But I am well now, and this “old” Tagore still has the same special meaning for me. I share it with you. I am happy this year to see so many young, activist friends are thinking this way, and working tirelessly.

YOU are my happiness. 



Places the forsaken and the poorest live

You are there too, I know, I believe

underneath the sick and behind the all slow

amongest the ones with nowhere else to go//

I bow my head for almighty you

the bow is all pretense and it’s stubborn too

arrogance of mine

can’t match your humble divine

you descend on places where i can never show

underneath the sick and behind the all slow

amongest the ones with nowhere else to go//


Pride cannot reach you up in your lofty seat

the places you roam, the people you visit

underneath the sick and behind the all slow//


I only seek your hand in the midst of wealth

I only seek your blessing in the midst of pride

yet you are befriend with the friendless left behind

you are always with them and only there you reside//


My heart is boastful and my ego is high

I just can’t deny

I am only unable to follow you back and fro

underneath the sick and behind the all slow

amongest the lone poor with nowhere else to go.//

In Bangla script.

যেথায় থাকে সবার অধম দীনের হতে দীন
সেইখানেতেই তোমার চরণ রাজে
সবার পিছে সবার নীচে
সবহারাদের মাঝে।

যখন তোমায় প্রণাম করি আমি
প্রণাম আমার কোনখানে যায় থামি
তোমার চরণ যেথায় নামে অপমানের তলে
সেথায় আমার চরণ নামে না যে
সবার নীচে সবার পিছে
সবহারাদের মাঝে।


অহংকার তো পায়না নাগাল যেথায় তুমি ফেরো
রিক্তভূষণ দীনদরিদ্র মাঝে
সবার পিছে সবার নীচে
সবহারাদের মাঝে।


ধনে মানে যেথায় আছে ভরি
সেথায় তোমার সঙ্গ আশা করি
সঙ্গী হয়ে আছ যেথায় সঙ্গীহীনের ঘরে
সেথায় আমার হৃদয় নামে না যে
সবার পিছে সবার নীচে
সবহারাদের মাঝে।



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