|The future Moheshkhali, as imagined by Tanzina, Jahanara and Shaheda of Ghotibanga Govt. Primary School.|
|The British-era cemetery with primary school behind.|
In the dry spring months Moheshkhali Island’s Ghotibanga Bazar takes on the appearance of a desert outpost, like a film set from a western genre movie – think John Wayne. It mightn’t have the tumbleweed but the dusty, sandy strip of tin shops adjacent to a windswept British-era cemetery is vaguely reminiscent of Hollywood’s American Wild West. You wouldn’t think the coast is nearby.
|The year 8 students took to the task of drawing Moheshkhali with relish.|
|Tajmahal and Tahamina, both 13, have each included their house on either side of a tidal channel.|
|There's no lack of sharing skills in Ghotibanga|
Art is included in the syllabus from class six but at remote Ghotibanga there’s no permanent art teacher so the students hardly ever draw. Nonetheless they prove more than willing to take up the challenge.
|Inside the classroom.|
|Pleased with artistic results.|
I ask the girls what’s the best thing in Moheshkhali. “The betel leaf,” Tajmahal answers. Although sweet Moheshkhali betel leaf is famous to the degree that it’s the subject of songs, I’m surprised. “How do you know?” I ask. “Do you chew paan?”
|There are only 12 boys to 36 girls in class 8.|
|The boys work together with Md. Sharif (2nd row, right) taking the lead.|
|Like many Bangladeshi primary schools, this one doubles as cyclone shelter.|
In the classroom’s back corner, Sagorika, Ruposhi, Samira and Lovely, all 14 years old, are working on a drawing of the island’s icon: Adinath Temple. Their artwork features the nearby jetty, built by the Nepalese government for the temple that country also honours, the mangrove forests and a tiger – there may once have been a tiger kept on the temple grounds. There’s even a priest to attend the temple with the signature singular strands of hair coming from the top of his otherwise bald head.
|The novelty of drawing.|
“It’s a beautiful area,” the girls tell me. “We were there the day before yesterday – and we saw you there!”
|Life as it used to be: Ghotibanga's class 8 boys illustrate.|
|Eucalyptus trees in the school yard.|