Shanti Town V

Post lunch we move towards the Khowai…A part of the land naturally eroded for ages, rendering it the name, erosion in Bengali being known as ‘Khoy’. The red soiled road lined on either side with tall trees takes us to the dam gate which is perhaps the most precarious and yet the most wildly appealing part of the town. The brown earth eroded over the years creates considerably deep gorges with tall grass growing all around as the dam gates slide down on one side now leaving just a thin stream of water. As we walk deep into the forest like hind part of the area, all we can see are the same eucalyptus like trees that are a regular feature of this area emanating its strange smell. The crickets go on buzzing even during this time of the day creating a strange music…no wonder the poet found refuge and inspiration from this abode of peace…we accompanied them with a chorus rendition of ‘Ha re re re re re amay chere de re de re…jemon chara boner pakhi moner anonde re….’ True to the words we felt free beyond all ties.
Leaving Khowai behind, we then moved towards Kopai…we could have taken the road along the Khowai but the approaching evening and the precariousness of the road made us think sense as we drove back to the Sonajhuri more and from there took the road leading to Goalpara and beyond. It took about 15 odd minutes to reach the bridge over Kopai. The thin brown stream below the bridge flows as a mocking tribute to the Kopai that swells ferociously during monsoons. We park the car by the side of the bridge and climb down the steep side by the bridge to reach the river, the moist red earth creating footprints as we move further down. As we sit by the River on the red soil on a few luckily found boulders, the river gurgles faintly close by on its endless journey witnessing years and years of life around. Adventurous by birth, I walk towards the water with my jeans folded to the knees…as my feet gradually get used to the chill in the water. On the other bank, a few local women casually bathe and wash their clothes looking at us amused at our antics and over excited behaviour. I take a few more steps into the water and feel the need to fold the jeans further up. Looking back I realize that I am almost halfway through the river and I stand with the water level only upto my thighs….I wade further upstream and get a large boulder right in the middle of the river and sit on it with my feet still in the waters. The evening gradually turns redder as the sun now on the western horizon slowly dips further and further down intermittently hiding behind palm trees. The nip in the air can be felt faintly as I head back for the banks almost unwillingly.
As I step foot on the ground, on the other side a herd of cows come slowly down the slope and enter the water accompanied by a boy of about 12 or 13 who also steps in…one by one he leads them into the water and then swims accross, his height being short enough for him having to swim through…they all reach this side and in the same mechanical way walk down the banks towards home…I wonder how life goes on in the same way fro them everyday. they cross this river twice everyday from this side to that and yet the monotony and drdgery of their lives do not drive them crazy to the hilt…they seem content with what they have. Why then do we, more educated, more civilized lot have this source of constant deprivation in life? However much we get we still want more…maybe it is the distance from the roots or maybe because of our lack of association with nature…I wonder! As we walk back to the car darkness and silence engulfs us on our journey back home. The multitutde of glow worms and stars in an ethereal unison cast a magical spell all around with the crickets accompanying them with their incessant sound. The moon shines yet again and lights us the world around and yet again we retire to the comforts of our home, make a quick dinner and finish it off discussing the wanderings of the day. The terrace calls yet again as we go up and sit in the shimmering moonlit terrace remembering the poet and singing songs endlessly. It dawns on us how and why he had written ‘Chader hashir badh bhengeche uchle pore alo…o rojoni gondha tomar gondho sudha dhalo’…

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