Kolkata: One of a collection of thousands of photographs of the poet that are archived and digitally available in Rabindra Bhavana at Visva-Bharati, it is part of Kshemendramohan Sen’s collection that was donated to the university.
The caption — or comment — with the image is “showing his hand to a palmist; Suren Kar and Nandalal Bose and a few others are anxiously listening”. Tagore’s curiosity in what the astrologer is saying is palpable from his slightly furrowed brow and eyes that are concentrating hard on his hand being read by the palmist. So do Kar and Bose appear involved in the process. Tagore had a distinct interest in fortune-telling: way back in 1891, in a letter that he wrote from the family estate in Sahajadpur to his wife, Mrinalini, he reported in some detail on the visit of “a major astrologer of the region” who “for the best part of the morning badgered me”. Tagore had just settled down to work, “but he rattled on so much that I could not write”.
On the basis of sun and zodiacal signs, the astrologer said that though Tagore was generous with money, he “would still be accused of being a miser”. He was handsome, well-dressed and with a fine wife — but “was rather irascible”, would fall out with his brother and not live beyond 62 — at best 70. “It worried me a lot to hear this,” wrote Tagore, but he added in jest that his wife should not brood on this as she would have his company for at least another thirty to forty years; however, Mrinalini died in November 1902 when Tagore was 41 and she not even 30