A contest marking Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary prompted an IT professional and her daughter to read some of his works. Sheela Shenoy and her daughter, Soumya borrowed some of Tagore’s books thinking it might be fun to see what the contest was about.
“At first, we couldn’t relate to them at all,” said Shenoy. “We had almost given up when we read some short stories. We had always perceived him as someone you couldn’t relate to, but all that changed.”
Inspired by his works, they sent in entries to the British Council-organised international competition. Their entries are among 300 selected from 1,400 entries across the world and published as part of a book, ‘Inspired by Tagore’. British Council and Sampad, a South Asian arts organisation based in the UK, jointly published the book earlier this month.
While Shenoy’s story “Arch Rivals” skims the surface of family interactions, Soumya’s short piece reflects on Tagore himself. “I’m very excited to have something published in a book,” said Soumya.
The overall prize for the under-15 age group was won by Mumbai boy Viraf Patrawala, a student of Udayachal High School in Vikhroli. The prizes were announced last month. His winning entry “The Fortress” was inspired by Tagore’s poem “Dungeon”.
“I was surprised to win, and it’s thrilling to be published,” said Patrawala, who wrote the poem in a day. The overall winner in the above-16 category was Cathy Bryant from the UK.
The British Council received 1,400 entries from 37 countries including Nigeria, the Philippines, Croatia and Ireland.
“We thought Tagore was known only in Bengal,” said Samarjit Guha, head of programmes, East India British Council.
“Tagore goes beyond many boundaries. It was a great effort from all the participants.”