February 12, 2009

Hand-written letter of Rabindranath Tagore found in Bangladesh

Dhaka (IANS): A rare hand written letter by Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore has been found from a private collector in a Bangladesh village. The six-page letter was found in Patisar village under Atrai Upazila in the northern Bangladesh district of Naogaon. Over 66 years since Tagore's death, it is a major find for those interested in his memorabilia.

Naheed Sultana, custodian, Rabindranath Kachharibari Museum at Shazadpur Upazila in Sirajganj district, confirmed that Tagore addressed the letter to someone in Bolpur, now in West Bengal in India. He had set up Santiniketan, an open air university, there.

Apparently the missive was a response to a request to the poet for his photograph. The letter was dated on Bhadra 28 in the Bengali year 1317, The Daily Star said on Wednesday. "As far I know, no original handwritten letter or manuscript of Tagore is in any of the museums in Bangladesh," said Mohammad Abdul Khaleque, director general, Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh. The letter throws interesting light on Tagore's date of birth.

Tagore had pointed out in the letter that his date of birth was May 6, 1861. However, Sultana thinks he was born May 7 in the same year. She maintains that Tagore was in all likelihood born after midnight, hence the discrepancy. In response to a request for his biography, the poet said in the letter that his life history was not important. He did, however, give insights into his younger days and his conjugal life.

The letter has a complicated history: Matiur Rahman of Patisar village collected the letter from a man named Nazrul Islam. Nazrul Islam inherited it from his father Kabej Ali Mandal, who was one of the cooks working on the poet's boat. Matiur Rahman has been collecting Tagore memorabilia from several districts in the county since 2003.

The newspaper, however, complained about the poor upkeep of Tagore memorablia.

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