Kadambari Devi – A lesser known lady in the life of the most important Laureate of our country Rabindranath Thakur (Tagore).
Her story attracted me most was that of unrequited love. Though married into a rich jamindar household of the Thakur’s, she remained mostly anonymous. Married to Tagore’s elder brother Jyotindranath Thakur at the age of 10, her spouse was a decade older to her. In the Thakur’s household all women were encouraged to study, but they even had the responsibility to manage it.
In Tagore, Kadambari found a playmate and a young companion. She was just 2 years older to him and he sweetly called her notun bouthan. They spent their youth in each other’s company reading novels, poems and exploring dream world. She had developed a good literary sensibility and often used it to be a stern critic to Tagore’s initial work. She became his inspirational source and a muse who constantly wanted him to do his best. It is no wonder he wrote several poems, letters and even few sketches about her. He dedicated the poem to her and may I say the lyrics is just apt.
‘তারাতোমারেই করিয়াছি জীবনের ধ্রুবতারা’
You are the guiding star of my life.
Her husband though liberal in his ways often left his wife and kept busy with businesses of the family. There were few occasions when he would play violin, Tagore sang and recited poems were the best times Kadambari enjoyed thoroughly. Otherwise she was neglected, childless and often found herself lonely. Some of Tagore’s letters written to her were published and for their family a matter of shame.
It was soon decided that Tagore will be married and that news was traumatic to Kadambari. She felt a void inside her, an idea of Tagore her most important person in her life, a widening distance between them simply became unbearable for her. Within 4 months of Tagore marrying Mrinalini, Kadambari took her life with overdose of opium.
Needless to say the young bard was heartbroken and distraught after her death and since then dedicated to her, many of his works. But only he knew what she meant to him as the whole world celebrated his work as she had predicted.
You can read about her in snippets in some autobiographical books of Rabindranath Tagore like Chellebela and then in a book by True love stories by kiran Manral (Rabindranath Tagore & Kadambari Devi). Many movies have also tried to capture this unsaid unrequited love story.
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