Saturday, 1 January 2000

7. Moulvibazar, Hill and Haor - Village Flute Index


       hills and haor, the name of the game 

is open space

  once was a forest submerged

     once were wooden shoes

                         once was a crowded train platform 

   where gibbons swing and the tea comes 

secretly, in sevens.

       where fungus runs its human business.

             where betel vines climb and

   gardens hem you in.

as Madhabkunda's spirit knows, nature 

                          rules everything.


Hijol trees in Hakaluki Haor.

The Hijol Tree
When monsoon reached Hakaluki the trees waded, they got used to that – soothed and soaked all the way up their lower trunks to the first of their boughs. In those months that forest swam: a temporary inland sea. 

"Once was a forest submerged."

Infected agarwood, the world's most precious living material.
In the villages of Sujannagar in Barlekha, an upwardly mobile fungus, phaeoacremonium parasitica, has done rather well for itself.

"Where fungus runs its human business."

Manu ticket counter is very unlikely to have a queue.

They’ve loaded up that history and carted it away. Who will think of Manu now?

 "Once was a crowded train platform, riverside..."

"Taro plants grew wild in the town. All the vegetables were local too."

There were horse carts and ox carts and we used to walk barefoot – only outsiders wore shoes.

"Once were wooden shoes..."

A fern frond opening in Lawachara National Park.
How is it that a bunch of trees and living things can lift spirits and free souls? What magnificent ingredient or elixir does the forest bring to enchant, inspire and release? Does anybody know?

"Where gibbons swing..."

Seven-layered tea. But what do the colours mean?

Sreemangal Sevens
In the case of the signature seven-colour or the newer ten-colour tea it’s not worth asking. “I don’t know what’s in it,” twenty-six-year old waiter Joshim Uddin will say...

"and the tea comes secretly, in sevens..."

A bamboo bridge in the hills.

Land of the Seven Huts
When U Blei of the old belief first thought to create the world, did he plan for his Khasi to settle in these hills? He is U Blei, she is Ka Blei and they are Ki Blei: God belongs to every gender and number. 

"where betel vines climb..."

The spirit of the waterfall knows all.

The Spirit of Madhabkunda
“Shhh! There need be silence,” she says, “A white chicken will meet its death.”

" Madhabkundha's spirit knows, nature rules everything..." 

Rajkumari Das started working in the garden when she was 12.

Sun and light: the dirt road leading into Moulvibazar District’s Chatlapore hillock country feels forgotten.

How do you find yourself in the garden?

Worker's cottages in the tea garden.

Memsahib was Really Nice
“I am paying money,” she said, one day while passing by, “Why is this baby here?”

Come! Let me take you to a place where money falls from trees...

On the way home from her job at the dispensary.

Tea Reconsidered
"The village has a sweet, pungent smell. Is it incense or a range of native cooking styles from various Indian places? It doesn’t smell like regular Bangladesh."

The faces who stop to ask who I am, they aren't Bengali faces...

A rickshaw (pedicab) in San Diego, California.

The first known mention of California was in the 1510 romance novel “Las Sergas de Esplandi√°n”...

California started as an idea...
The guardian and the tamal tree.

A Poet's Aside
The conductor says we’ll be stopping for twenty minutes. It means half an hour.

But the village flute doesn't run like an intercity bus...

Winter fog lingers over Hatiya, Noakhali.

My Islam
It used to be that of a village Eid morning in Hatiya I'd get ready along with my Bengali brothers. After bathing in the pond we'd dress and walk the short distance to the mosque.

Because a special day like Eid should be share

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