We took a cycle rickshaw to Kopai river though, as we couldn’t hire a small cycle for our little girl. So what? We still rode to Kopai river, with the breeze on our face, through the pristine countryside that was green with the usual wintry brown here and there, crops that had been harvested and were waiting in heaps to be converted to grains, through fields pregnant with mustards and showing off their bright yellow and green hues, through our own rendition of “Gram chara oei ranga maatir poth… — the red path that leads you away from the village”, “Poush toder daak diyeche….– winter in here with a rich harvest”, “Dhaner khete rodro chayay lokuchuri khela….– the hide and seek of the sun and shadows in the rice fields ”, through the blabbering of our amused rickshaw-walla who took it upon himself to educate us about Rabindranath Tagore and his Shantiniketan. Take a car, and these joys, little ones, but ones which filled the heart and the soul, wouldn’t be yours…
There is romance in the air when you are in Shantiniketan. The romance of life. You almost see every song, poem of Tagore coming to life and play out right in front of your eyes when you are here. It is as though the bard would have written them all, the ones you are singing softly, sitting right there. Blame it on the Tagore lover. Shantiniketan is Mecca for him/her.
The banks of Kopai river, then, had to be seen. The river that was the inspiration for his ever-popular “Amader choto nodi..” (our small river), that generations of Bengalis have learnt in their toddler years.
Still two hours to sunset, the sun had mellowed considerably and had cast its spell on the wintry noon. We simply wanted to sit by the riverside, listening to the Baul (Read — Bauls at Shantiniketan’s Poush Mela) who sat with his Ektara close by, singing Lalon — “Ami opar hoye boshe acchi ohe doyamoy,
Pare loye jao amare…” ( Here, O Lord, I wait for Thee
Bring me ashore….). You glide, from Tagore to Lalon to Tagore and then Lalon again…just as the sun’s rays get more and more colour, and the winter breeze prick your skin. Does the tranquillity that has descended upon you bring the urge to cry? Yes, it does. Maybe you fight back the urge. Maybe you give in. There is nobody there to laugh at you….you are in God’s embrace….
[For those who don’t get carried away as much as I do, here is a warning — Kopai river isn’t a very big one. You might find it more like a stream, especially in the winter months when much of the water has dried up. But if you manage to find Bengal’s two most famous bards, Tagore and Lalon, while sitting by the riverside, your’s is the earth and everything that’s in it…]