|Apeejay students perform Totakahini as a tribute to Tagore. Picture by Sayantan Ghosh
There was barely an inch to move in the attic of Oxford Bookstore on May 9. Bookworms, parents, students and teachers had trooped in to watch students of Apeejay schools pay tribute to Rabindranath Tagore through music, mime and poetry on his 150th birth anniversary.
So charged was the atmosphere that some members of the audience also joined in for an impromptu performance. Leading the bandwagon was Oindrilla Mitra, mother of Class XI student Ishwari Basu. As Class IX student Akash Chakraborty played Praan chai chokkhu na chai on the synthesiser, an overwhelmed Mitra broke into a dance.
“This is what Tagore does to you. He brings out the artist in you and then you cannot stand still,” said Mitra, a schoolteacher.
Other members of the audience sang Amra shobai raja and Dariye achho tumi amar gaaner opare, as students provided the music.
A play, Amar mukti aloy aloy (Liberation unto Light), was also staged. Put up by students of classes VI to XI from both the Salt Lake and Park Street branches of the school, the play focussed on liberation through education. It also explored the bard’s views on the schooling system.
“Rabindranath ran away from school and ultimately came up with a model institution,” said the master of ceremonies, Farhat Khan, before the start of the play. With that, the children took to the stage, enacting Tagore’s vision of an ideal education system.
Part of the programme was a mime of Parrot’s Tale, an English translation of Totakahini. A dance drama, Chandalika, was also performed by the students.
The ball was set rolling by actress and singer Rijita Chatterjee with a rendition of a Spanish song, followed by a song Autumn leaves. “Rabindranath used to love jazz tunes. These songs are my way of paying tribute to the bard,” said the singer.
The curtains were brought down by principal Reeta Chatterjee, reciting the oft-repeated lines: “Where the mind is without fear...”. “These lines help you understand that for the development of society, every individual needs to be confident. We all need to be leaders and not wait to be led.”
Wonder of wonders
An inky sky with a tinge of blue,
A cloudy dome through and through!
And one lone hawk circling fast,
While the little birds chirrup past.
A concrete jungle gazing high,
At the wonder called the sky!
With changing colours at dusk and dawn,
A blazing evening or the winter’s morn.
The miracles that we get to see,
Are pictures painted by Him.
He who flings the lightning dash,
He who makes the raindrops splash,
Makes the sun a golden ball,
Makes the snow in winter fall!
The sunsets are so fiery red,
And the steely grey above my head!
I gaze up and try to see,
Try to see, where is He?
Within you … within me,
Just within you and me!