The Taj Mahal and the slumdog

‘You knew, Shah Jahan, life and youth, wealth and glory, they all drift away in the current of time. You strove, therefore, to perpetuate only the sorrow of your heart… Let the splendor of diamond, pearl, and ruby vanish like the magic shimmer of the rainbow. Only let this one tear-drop, this Tajmahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.

O King, you are no more. Your empire has vanished like a dream, your throne lies shattered… your minstrels sing no more, your musicians no longer mingle their strains with the murmuring Jamuna… Despite all this, the courier of your love, untarnished by time, unwearied, unmoved by the rise and fall of empires, unconcerned with the ebb and flow of life and death, carries the ageless message of your love from age to age: ‘Never shall I forget you, beloved, never.’

– By Rabindranath Tagore (translated by Kshitish Roy) from One Hundred and One Poems

A young cowherd stares at the Taj Mahal, lost temporarily in thought.
A young cowherd stares at the Taj Mahal, lost temporarily in thought.

On the banks of the Yamuna river, lies one of the seven wonders of the world; one of the most recognized symbol of love: The Taj Mahal.

I was across the river waiting for the sunset when this boy, not more than ten years of age stood in the perfect position staring at the magnificent structure. I took this shot very quickly but he heard the shutter and came to me. He said to me “Money! Money!” with an outstretched hand.

I responded back in Hindi that I had none. We chatted a little and I offered him some chewing gum. We sat there in silence staring at the Taj Mahal, each lost in our own thoughts. He may see many people like me come and go. I will be lost in the flood of his experiences, but like the Taj Mahal, he remains etched in my memory.


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