Mungpoo, May 9: On his 80th birthday on May 9, 1940, Rabindranath Tagore had enjoyed being wheeled around the bungalow at Mungpoo by K.B. Yonzon, a youth of 18 years then.
Seventy-years later, Yonzon, now 88, is among a handful of people who had witnessed probably the last of Tagore’s birthday celebrations before his death in August 1941.
“I was a worker of a Cinchona factory here and was assigned to take care of Gurudev during his stay. Around 300 villagers had gathered here on his 80th birthday with flowers and garlands. Gurudev had wished to be wheeled around the bungalow so that he could meet the people. I had taken him around and he was very happy,” Yonzon said at Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations here today.
Overwhelmed by the love and affection of the people, Tagore had penned three poems including Janmadin during his stay here which are still preserved in the Rabindranath Museum, now housed in the bungalow.
To Pratap Singh Ghatraj, the bard in flowing white hair had appeared like a “sadhu”. “I had attended his birthday celebration in 1940 as a 10-year-old with my mother. I was awed by his appearance because he looked like a sadhu,” Ghatraj, now 80, said.
The bungalow at Mungpoo, around 40km from Siliguri, wore a festive look today with people from all quarters flocking there to celebrate the poet’s birthday. School children in colourful dresses and local people performed folk dances, recited Tagore’s poems and sang Rabindra Sangeet.
The programme was jointly organised by the district administration, information and cultural department, directorate of cinchona and other medicinal plants, the Rabindra Memorial Model Labour Welfare Centre and the local people of Mungpoo.
Tagore had visited Mungpoo four times from 1938 to 1940 because of his love for the place and special bond with Maitreyi Devi, the daughter of his friend Surendranath Dasgupta. Memoirs of his stay here were published by Maitreyi Devi in her book Mungpoote Rabindranath translated into English as Tagore by Fireside .