On my way back from Silchar, India, where I participated in the Anuvad Arts Festival (more on that to follow), I had an 8-hour layover at Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, where I read the poems of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and scribbled some drawings inspired by them on the blank spaces in my flight information printouts.
I HAD GONE a-begging from door to door in the village path, when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream and I wondered who was this King-of all kings!
My hopes rose high and methought my evil days were at an end, and I stood waiting for alms to be given unasked and for wealth scattered on all sides in the dust.
The chariot stopped where I stood. Thy glance fell on me and thou earnest down with a smile. I felt that the luck of my life had come at last Then of a sudden thou didst hold out thy right hand and say ‘What hast thou to give to me?’
Ah, what a kingly jest was it to open thy palm to a beggar to beg! I was confused and stood undecided, and then from my wallet I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to thee.
But how great my surprise when at the day’s end I emptied my bag on the floor to find a least little grain of gold among the poor heap. I bitterly wept and wished that I had had the heart to give thee my all.
EARLY IN THE day it was whispered that we should sail in a boat, only thou and I, and never a soul in the world would know of this our pilgrimage to no country and to no end.
In that shoreless ocean, at thy silently listening smile my songs would swell in melodies, free as waves, free from all bondage of words.
Is the time not come yet? Are there works still to do? Lo, the evening has come down upon the shore and in the fading light the seabirds come flying to their nests.
Who knows when the chains will be off, and the boat, like the last glimmer of sunset, vanish into the night?
THE DAY is no more, the shadow is upon the earth. It is time that I go to the stream to fill my pitcher.
The evening air is eager with the sad music of the water. Ah, it calls me out into the dusk. In the lonely lane there is no passer by, the wind is up, the ripples are rampant in the river.
I know not if I shall come back home. I know not whom I shall chance to meet. There at the fording in the little boat the unknown man plays upon his lute.