Dear Mr. Tagore,
It was June 25th. 1983. Michael Holding could not read the in-cutter from the mystique arm of Mohinder Amarnath and the red cherry got him stranded in front of the wicket. Dicky Bird, the English umpire, raised his finger,taking no time, signalling the fall of last wicket.
Holding lay down on the pitch, tears smudging the white trail of the batting crease. Joel Garner, his partner, on the opposite side, stood on crestfallen.
Amarnath ran forward, yanked a stump off the ground, and dashed towards the pavilion, flashing a victor’s smile. He was followed by Syed Kirmani, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Kapil Dev, Roger Binny, Sunil Gavaskar and the rest of warriors.
They were engulfed midway by the surging crowds who came down from the gallery crazily. India, literally, emerged a nation on the lush green field of Lord’s in England. It bet the two-time reigning champions West Indies. Kapil Dev, the captain, lifted the Prudential world cup, amidst busy, intermittent flashes from camera men.
The fate of final, however, was effectively sealed much earlier when the dangerous looking Bachhus was ensnared by Sandhu to nick an outswinger into the safe hands of ever-vigilant Kirmani, behind the stumps. The rearguard action of Bachhus and Dujon came to a staggering halt.
My vocal music guru, Dr. Dhruvo Tara Joshi, a Marathi Brahmin, wanted his kababs be made off beef. He had a last- minute wish, too. He wanted to be buried in the sprawling garden of his disciple Golam Imam.
Any public performance of Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan was not complete without his signature bhajan Hari Om tatsat.
Ustad Bismillah Khan did not want to get settled in America as he could not miss a day of arati on the banks of Ganga which lapped his Baranasi home on her plaintive glide forward to the lilting melodies of sehnai.
Abdul majhi, a servant at Jorasanko house, told you, Mr.Tagore, stories of growling tigers and prowling crocodiles when you were a child. Abdul kept you thrilled all day and night.
Bastani, an Arab poet you invited to your ashram at Shantiniketan, translated your English poems to Arabic language.
Tagore, you knew India what she essentially is. Shak-hun-dal-pathan-mogul ak dehe holo leen.
Yes. The Shakas and Pathans and Mughals have merged into a body that is India.
And so, Muslim jawans fight and fall to bullets fired from the other end of territory.
And so, some Roys, Boses and Tudus follow the rituals of the holy month of Ramzan, as the devout Muslims do, and celebrate Id.
And so, the ace actor Amir Khan shortly launches into his next mega project: The Mahabharat on the celluloid.
Mr.Tagore, you wrote Bharotbarsher Itihaser Dhara. There you showed how India embraced all the different faiths over decades and centuries.
So despite the growling tigers and prowling crocodiles which Abdul majhi told you of, the victorious run of Amarnaths, Kirmanis and Sandhus will go on and on.
And Tagore, you were convinced of it much before us all: Janaganomongaldayok jayo hey….
My pronam to you, Shri Rabindranath Tagore, the visionary poet, on your 158th birthday.