‘Kobi’ and ‘Rani’:
Memoirs and Correspondences of Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis and Rabindranath Tagore
Translated and edited by: Somdatta Mandal
With a Foreword by: Dipesh Chakrabarty
The unique personal and loving relationship that Rabindranath Tagore shared with Prasantachandra Mahalanobis and his wife Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis (aka Rani) is a well-known fact for all Tagore enthusiasts. This anthology deals with the English translation of two travel memoirs penned by Nirmalkumari, namely Kobir Shonge Europey (With the Poet in Europe) which vividly narrates the seven-month long trip to various countries of Europe in 1926, and Kobir Shongey Dakshinattey (With the Poet in the South) narrating the trip to South India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1928, both published a long time after the death of the Poet in 1941. It also includes the translation of Pathe O Pather Prante, a collection of sixty letters Rabindranath wrote to Rani by personally selecting from more than five hundred letters he had written to her, and which was published from Visva-Bharati in May/June 1938 under the ‘Patradhara’ series.
Three other articles on Rabindranath penned by Nirmalkumari have also been included in this volume. They are “Om Pita Nohosi,” “Tamaso Ma Jyotirgomoyo” and an article for children published in the Autumn Festive Number of the magazine Anandamela in 1941. Read together, the colloquial style in which the memoirs are written confirms how Rani had become a part of Tagore’s household and managed to come in close proximity to the Poet. However trivial they might seem at times, these narratives give a fresh and intimate picture of the Poet which is lacking in his different official biographies. This translated volume therefore will not only add to Tagore scholarship but also throw a fresh light on the relationship between ‘Kobi’ and ‘Rani’, names that they used affectionately to address each other.