Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind – Rudyard Kipling
The 150th birth anniversary of celebrated poet and author of the world-famous Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling, was commemorated in Mumbai on Wednesday, 30th December 2015. To mark the occasion, a few city-based poets arranged a gathering at Sir Jamshetjee Jeejeebhoy College of Architecture.
Rudyard Kipling was born in 1865 in the Sir J.J. College campus where his father was then the head of the architectural sculpture department. A house, which is widely believed to be the birthplace of the great writer, still remains in the college campus, albeit in a bad shape.
The event was the brainchild of Prof. Mustansir Dalvi of the Sir J.J. College, who, along with a few other Mumbai-based poets, read out some of Kipling's poems and extracts from his famous novels and stories to a gathering of over 100 people.
Poet-cum-professor Dalvi told The News Minute that he conducted the event out of his personal interest. "I discussed the idea with a few city-based poets, and we decided to read out a few of his works to people."
Contrary to the belief that Kipling was born in a house on campus, which now has his bust placed in front, Prof. Dalvi made it clear that the structure came into existence "some 10 to 15 years after Kipling's birth." There, however, have been plans to restore the decrepit structure and make it a museum in Kipling's honour. "The talk has been going on for a while now but nothing fruitful has come out till now," Prof. Dalvi said.
Prof. Dalvi read out excerpts from Kipling's autobiography 'Something of Myself,' which also turned out to be the writer's last work, where he described his birth city, Bombay, as "the quintessential urban setting of the world." Prof. Dalvi also read Kipling's poem 'The Architect's Alphabet.' A story behind the poem was also shared by the professor. "The poem was found in the margin of a book of Kipling's architect friend. It seems Kipling was not satisfied with his work and thus had kept it as such in his friend's book," Prof. Dalvi explained to the gathering at Sir J.J. College.
Mumbai based poet and Sahitya Academi winner Mr Ranjit Hoskote, who was also present, described the event as "pop-up reading." He talked of how Kipling "came from a cultural elite and yet identified himself with the common man in his works." But, Mr Hoskote also touched on Kipling's transformation from "an anti-imperialist stance to being a part of the colonial establishment," and to prove this he read out Kipling's poem 'A Pict Song.'
Another Mumbai-based poet and novelist Mr Jerry Pinto, who was also present, read two of Kipling's poems - 'The Needy Bird' and 'The Temptation of Love.' At the same time, he also spoke of how Kipling wrote "whopping, distorted, and terrifying stories" for the world in justification of imperialism and war. He also said that Kipling "planted the seeds of aspiration" in Indian minds - an aspiration for Indians to adopt the English style, which Mr Pinto said still remains in us all.
Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865 in Bombay. His parents had come to India the same year he was born. Though Kipling spent a few years in Bombay, he was forced to leave for England for his studies when he was just six years old. And in 1882, when he was 17 years old, he was back in India, unable to have his college education in England for want of money. He published his first set of short stories in 1882 under the title 'Plain Tales from the Hills.' His most famous 'The Jungle Book' was written and published in Vermont, USA in 1894 when he was just 29 years old. By the age of 32 he had become the highest paid writer in the world. Other works of his include 'Wee Willie Winkie,' 'American Notes,' 'The Naulakha: A Story of the West and East,' and 'Debits and Credits'. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and remains the youngest recipient of the award for literature till date.
He wrote vociferously in support of England in the World War, in which he would soon lose his son, and then, in his memory, would write 'The Irish Guards in the Great War.' Unable to recover from the grief at the loss of his son and followed by an ulcer, he became seriously ill, and on January 18, 1936 he breathed his last. His ashes were buried in Westminster near the grave of Charles Dickens.