As the sun set over the JJ School of Art campus, Fort, streaking the sky with a last, defiant tint of red, one heard author Rudyard Kipling words resonate. Kipling had described the place as, “a marvellous place filled with smells of paints and oils, and lumps of clay with which I played.”

The ‘Kipling Bungalow’ saw unusual activity on the author’s 150th birth anniversary tribute. Pics/Shadab Khan
The ‘Kipling Bungalow’ saw unusual activity on the author’s 150th birth anniversary tribute. Pics/Shadab Khan

This is the place that played host to his 150th birth anniversary celebrations last evening, with a reading of his work, which brought together Kipling enthusiasts and poets.

Jerry Pinto, Mustansir Dalvi, Ranjeet Hoskote and Kaiwan Mehta paid tribute to the English author and poet on his 150th birth anniversary at JJ School of Art campus
Jerry Pinto, Mustansir Dalvi, Ranjeet Hoskote and Kaiwan Mehta paid tribute to the English author and poet on his 150th birth anniversary at JJ School of Art campus

Dressed as if invited to a formal dinner, Nitant Zaveri, a literature student from St. Xavier’s College, Fort said, “I am supposed to be at a friend’s wedding, but when it comes to Kipling, I couldn’t miss it for the world,” even as organizers ushered the guests into the JJ College’s seminar hall for the event.

Reading out their favourite excerpts from Kipling’s work, authors Jerry Pinto, Ranjeet Hoskote and Kaiwan Mehta, along with Professor Mustansir Dalvi, event organizer and professor brought the room to life.

The audience laughed at every humourous description of the city Kipling’s autobiography ‘Something of Myself’ offered.

“It has been years since the halls of this institution have heard such beautiful prose,” said Dalvi, as Pinto recited Kipling’s poem, ‘Recessional.’

“No doubt, there are misplaced sentiments in his works, and a warped, distorted picture of the British Raj in India emerges. Kipling was planting seeds of the Empire through his writings, but there is a moral tone behind everything he writes. Kipling has been, in the truest sense of the word-inspirational,” said Pinto; referring to the heavy criticism his work has drawn for being pro-imperialistic.

As the reading continued, many in the audience mouthed the verses of Kipling’s most famous poem, ‘If’.

Carrying three large books, which turned out be collection of Kipling’s work, Shantanu Rai, an architect and Kipling enthusiast got misty eyed, as Dalvi ended the tribute with ‘If’, leaving him and many others wanting more.