Kumkum was one of the most beautiful girls I met at university, and I am not talking about physical beauty alone. A brilliant student, she exuded charm wherever she was. She was a promising singer too. A song she sang at our Fresher’s Welcome became a mini legend. We expected Kumkum to become a leading singer in the future, but she didn’t. I firmly believe it is not because she lacked talent, but because she lacked the inclination to aggressively market herself, which is an essential ingredient for success today, particularly in the field of performing arts. But she has not wasted her talent either. She has been running a fine music school in the second largest city in West Bengal for decades and has countless grateful disciples.
At university, she was beyond reproach and above controversies. She was a perfect girl liked by all. The only serious fault she had was that she would have broken countless hearts. And after after the passage of trillions of years, I don't recall if yours truly was among them! But I do know something for sure.
Life would be less complete if my wife and I didn’t have friends like Kumkum.
A few days ago I posted a pen-sketch of an utterly remote lake in Purulia. We were there in the afternoon, when in the light of the setting sun, some men were washing themselves in the lake after a hard day’s work. As I watched them, I wondered what kind of homes they would go back to, what women would wait for them ... and later collected my thoughts in a short piece. After reading it, Kumkum quoted these lines from Tagore:
বাহিরে কাজের পালা হইবে সারা
আকাশে উঠিবে যবে সন্ধ্যাতারা
আসন আপন হাতে পেতে রেখো আঙ্গিনাতে
যে সাথী আসিবে রাতে তাহারি তরে।
True, Rabindranath wrote lines that would be so apt even today, prose and poetry that could describe such a multitude of human emotions …. I would not be able to translate the beauty of these lines even if I tried a thousand years, but here is a feeble attempt for my many friends who don’t read Bangla.
When day ends, he’ll get back from afar
It will be time for the evening star
Take the rug, gently spread it right
For the lover who’s coming tonight.
Kolkata / 13 January 2016