Another day’s story. At the counter of Vishwabharati’s central office. (Kinkarda has) come to the cash section to withdraw his salary. While handing out the pay, the counter colleague politely informs Kinkarda that this would be his last salary packet. Kinkarda is stunned. He says, “Why, why is that?” “You retired a month ago. So…” Hearing that Kinkarda falls off the sky, “What are you saying, what will I eat then? So you won’t give me pay next month?” “No, sir,” the counter official informs awkwardly.
Kinkarda dashes off to the Vice Chancellor’s house. Kalidas Bhattacharya, the VC, was having lunch. Hearing Kinkarda’s voice he rushes out with food-stained hands. After hearing the story he says, “You heard it correctly at the office. The university has to work according to its rules, you see; that’s the problem. But there are provisions for those who retire. You, too, have those. You will receive a pension every month. Besides that there’s provident fund, gratuity…”
Kinkarda is elated. “Ah! I thought the same. There must be some arrangement. See, good thing I came to you. That’s what I was wondering, there has to be a way.”
This man is strange. His anxiety and its release are both worth watching. His mind is detached from all things material. The fists are loose. In those loose fists he’s only held art all his life.
As endearing as it is to see the sculptor’s personality, it’s still not a full view. Without knowing Ramkinkar the artist, the full depth of his inner self isn’t fathomable. Again, the author brings this part of Ramkinkar Baij in all its glory. The conversations mostly hover around the artist’s works and the author’s keen understanding of them. We get deep into the mind and heart of a creator, learning how each of his works came into being—both mentally and organically. Someone who has no artistic acumen, the discussions on Ramkinkar’s finest creations fascinated me with every nuance leading to their origin. To learn that the figure of Sujata, the woman who had served milk rice pudding to Buddha, had actually been inspired by a lanky student at Shantiniketan was not a let down, but a revelation. Especially when one learned the associated story of how the famous Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar’s mastermoshai at Shantiniketan, advised putting a bowl on top of the woman’s head, transforming her into Sujata.
“Study isn’t done only with open eyes, but with the eyes closed as well. You see beauty with your eyes and with your heart. Only when the two meet is the seeing complete….Your eye’s vision comes near the heart’s, and the heart’s vision moves toward the eye’s. Somewhere in the middle they meet…But this meeting isn’t free from conflict, my dear, it has a lot of friction. And what remains after all the clash isn’t two any longer—the two then merge into One.”
While reading the book I lamented not being born early enough to see this humane, child-like, genius of a sculptor. But I am glad Somendranath Bandopadhyay preserved his essence so lovingly for me to cherish.
Note: All quoted text written by Somendranath Bandopadhyay, translated by Bhaswati Ghosh.