The Telegraph
Friday , May 6 , 2016

Tagore’s blue jewel

The poet Rabindranath Tagore had an immense love for flowers, all flowers; be the flowers from gardens, from wastelands or those he had seen in his myriad trips abroad. Even tiny flowers growing amidst the green grass did not escape the poet's notice. 

The poet liked flowers of different colours and different fragrances. While Juthika was one of his favourites, he also loved Raktakarabi, Ashok, Palash and Shimul. Rhododendron was another favourite. He loved the yellow Sonajhuri, Basanti and Sarshephul too. 

The poet had a great fascination for blue flowers. He often used to say “neel ronge aamar gabheer aanando” (Deep is my joy in the blue colour). In Santiniketan, all his friends and associates knew this. 

So his friend Dr W. W. Pearson decided to bring for him a sapling all the way from Argentina. Those were the days of marine travel, and the sapling remained in a corner of the ship’s deck under Dr Pearson’s watchful eyes. Tagore was delighted to receive this rare gift and planted it in front of his house named Konark. After months of anticipation and wait, one fine spring day, the creeper burst into a profusion of blue flowers. The poet’s happiness knew no bounds. Thereafter every year, at the onset of spring, the plant burst into jewel-like blue flowers.

The flower was very different from Tagore’s familiar floral world. It did not resemble in the least Juhi, Shefali, Malati or Madhabi, flowers he knew and loved. Its colour was very different, so was its shape. The poet was mesmerised by its beauty. 

A few years passed, the poet had still not given the plant a name. And then came a year when at its blooming time, the poet was in faraway Bharatpur in Rajasthan. The poet brooded. So long the flower was close to him it did not need a name, but now that it was far away it needed a name. The poet named the plant Neelmonilata in Bengali and thereby brought it closer to his own heart and to the heart of every Bengali. He composed a beautiful poem on the flower. Later, the poem was included in his collection of poems titled Banabani.

Shikul Bhattacharji
AK 185

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