5. The Japanese inkRabindranath Tagore lavished boundless affection and love on Nandalal Bose, and he was also fond of the artist Mukul Dey. Mukul Dey was a great admirer and student of Nandalal Bose. Nandalal Bose and Mukul Dey went to many countries with Tagore, and Tagore liked them immensely.
Once, Nandalal Bose gave a bottle of ink to Mukul Dey and said, “This ink was made in Japan.”
In those days in India, any article from a foreign country created such fascination and was deeply appreciated. Mukul Dey was so excited and delighted. He thought, “This is such a nice thing. I will not use it. I will give it to Gurudev (meaning Tagore). He will be very happy to use this.”
Any object that is nice, people always wish to give to their dear ones. Because Mukul Dey was so fond of Tagore, he presented the ink to him.
When Tagore heard that the ink had come originally from Nandalal Bose, whom he loved so much, he used the ink to compose a poem on Nandalal Bose. Tagore wrote the whole poem, but nothing was visible on the paper. Tagore and Mukul Dey thought that it would become visible in a few hours. But hours passed by, and still nothing could be seen.
Tagore asked Mukul Dey, “What happened? Nothing is coming out. I thought that Nandalal Bose was giving us something extraordinary, an ink which becomes visible only after some time.”
Mukul Dey went to Nandalal Bose. When Bose heard that Tagore had used the ink, he was thunderstruck! He was so embarrassed. “What have I done? What have I done?” he said.
Nandalal had never expected that the ink would go to Tagore; otherwise, he would never have dared to do this kind of thing. He gave it to Mukul Dey to pull his leg, but Mukul Dey took the gift seriously and presented the gift to Tagore, of all people. But Tagore also enjoyed that joke. Afterwards, he wrote out the poem again using proper ink.1
RTM 147. Ibid., pp. 94-96.↩