THAT tiny dirt road leading to the paddy fields. Those dewdrops glistening like diamonds on wheat stalks. The silver flash of fish caught in the nets, struggling for life and freedom… These are sights that seem to belong to another world altogether.
Bathing in the pond or by the well, pumping the tube-well for water, sinking your teeth into spicy meals cooked over a clay stove, engaging in petty political debates at the local bazaar. Smelling clean grass instead of exhaust fumes. Being cooled by a fresh breeze instead of chilling under an air conditioner. Living a carefree life where time has neither meaning nor importance, and life is free from the shackles of meetings and deadlines. Stuff of fiction?
How long has it been since you have experienced any of these simple delights? For some the answer may be 'a long time ago', while for some others, it might even be 'never'. Ask yourself and surely the answer would be- 'it has been ages since I have visited my ancestral home in my village.'
To be really honest many of us have seldom or never visited the village home of our parents, for us the old ancestral home is where we were raised up with our parents. We have no clue that there exists a house where our parents grew up with their parents, before they left for the city for higher education and better options in life. At the same time there are instances where our parents made sure that we, the children, knew about this village and that house where they grew up by coming back to it once in every five years if not annually.
If you stop to think, this village that is somewhat real in an unreal way for us, simply does not exist in our children's lives. For poor them, dadar bari or nanur bari would be these claustrophobic flats that we so lovingly own and proudly say- 'it's a 2500 sq. ft. or 3200 sq. ft. flat'.
Then again we are so used to hot water in our toilets, air conditioning or heater in our rooms, gas in our kitchens, microwaves, refrigerators, readymade snacks for entertaining. We are so used to eating out when we don't feel like cooking, so used to ordering pithas (local sweet cakes) from shops, so used to seeing green in the form of pot plants only, we simply forget that there was a life totally different from all this. To think that these were not too distant in the past either.
The urbane and cultured lot that we are, we simply cannot go back to being close to nature or become men of the soil again. The 'better options in life' have moulded us so that our lives are bounded by concrete. All that is besides the point, and nostalgia is part of being modern, so what we are trying to say here is that we can still go visit these long-lost 'desher bari' and to some extent make them liveable in our standards.
We can renovate by adding modern fittings, by changing the plumbing and wiring system, by installing electricity and gas. In one word we keep the skeleton as it is and change the inside, we can make these lively village homes our resort, where we can safely creep back to its warm cradle when the pressures of city life simply wells up to unbearable heights.
Lush green stretch of grassland under your feet, azure clear sky above you, clean fresh air, this serenity disturbed only by few rickshaw bells clinking or by few stray cars zooming off to unknown destination. Simple formula of life, this is all we need at least once in a while to keep the spirit of our souls afire.
Winter with all its bounties is one season that takes us back to our roots. You would hear yearnings in your father's voice about bhapa pithas, nakeler pulis, rosher payesh in his mother's kitchen, and their stealing of jars of sweet date juice early in the morning even before the sun rose from its slumber. It's the time of fresh green vegetables, fish, ducks and other delicacies that makes desher baris so romantic.
Time changes and with it the patterns of lives yet in these ever shifting sequences we must trace back to feel the bare essence of Bengali life.
Dr. Noazesh Ahmed, the romantic that he is in his heart, invited few of his friends to his village home the Miah bari in Parial Noadha, a small village in Singair, just an hour and a half drive away from this bustling city.
Built in the 19th hundred century, his picturesque ancestral home took us- his guests to those old times, when days were passed in leisure and good food was served with great love and evenings where enjoyed singing romantic songs and reading poems.
The lush green lawns, the gardens, the 1905 red cemented kachari (court house) room, the fountain, the family graveyard, the main house of yester-year are so well maintained till date that you go back to that era in history without a second thought. No village is whole without a banyan tree and all the stories that go with it. This miah bari too boasted one such 200 year old tree, where the villagers offered puja to the fertility god. This particular village has history that dates back to the war of Plassey and during our Independence war the battle of Goliadha, where 89 Pakistani armies were killed in a single operation was also here in this village.
Nostalgia mixed with figments of history makes any village romantic another such place is Miah bari of Shahbazpur in Brahmanbaria.
His friends call him 'the poor rich man', Maine as we know him is another person who not only loves his home, the famous Miah Bari of Shahbazpur, but likes to boast about it to his friends. Young and unattached he fully doesn't realise the pleasures his mother finds in hosting his horde of friends or in making his favourite pudding whenever he decides to visit her.
Maine's house is what heaven would probably look like, to this we all agree. Ponds to fish in, to swim about, trees brimming with fruits of different kinds, hundreds of year old houses, renovated a little to make the living conditions better, the front yards carpeted in green grass, exotic flowers filling the place with their aroma. In another corner of the huge place is a modern two storied rest house sort of a building belonging to his uncle, where you can find your coffee maker to almost everything your urban heart desires. Yet amid all these luxuries this place hasn't lost its rustic touch. It's a place where you would want to go over and over again to unwind yourself.
Even if your home in the village is not any landlord's luxurious palace, you can transform yours to a palace of your liking and go back to the basic once in a while, simply to appreciate the past.
By Raffat Binte Rashid
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