Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 32, Tuesday January 6, 2004







Visiting the guests

Winter brings to our country a whiff of festivity and fervor. Most of the educational institutions stay closed; there are several major occasions and events that direct to vacations. The duration of these holidays vary from person to person, according to their jobs and occupations. Some can afford a trip abroad, some can spare time to go on long trips within the country while others can but hardly make it to a significant place within this metropolitan city of ours.

In the case where there's scarcely any time for long trips, most of us search for a place we can spend with family or friends for the duration of a whole day and can return back home by nightfall. Due to the recent construction of a few new amusement parks within and near Dhaka city, the options have emancipated than the last couple of years. Again, sometimes they might not be all that compatible depending on various outlooks: the age of children, the number of people in the group, deficient of suitable transportation, budget clamp etc.

Some of the problems can be overlooked when the major concern is having fun. But there truly comes a time when you wish you could go someplace with your family where each and every member could enjoy themselves- starting from 2-year-old toddler to 60-year-old grandpa and grandma, without having to think of the strain that would befall your pockets at the end of the season.

During winter, such a place could be the open water fronts of Jahangir Nagar University where thousands of migratory birds flock in enormous numbers with wonderful colours. An exquisite site to behold! The road and transportation means are gorgeous in every way and what waits for you at the other end is truly worth the journey. But maybe, the place has become all too familiar.

Well, a similar place, with a similar setting and similar transport facilities are present. It's not all that a public outing spot and very few people know of it. It's situated at Joydebpur, Gazipur. The Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute near Shibbari has a lovely assortment of ponds, lakes, trimmed grounds and lawns.

The ponds also have visiting birds, our guests of the season. You don't need any special permission to enter. All you have to do is inform the security at the gate that you've come to 'see the birds'. There are very good bus services that will drop you right off at the gates of the institute. Since it's a colony, you will find a lot of people there (especially in the afternoon and evening), and they are very friendly. There's also a mini-mart inside the premises where you can buy almost anything you might need on a small trip.

While you're there you can also go to the historical Rajbari located at the heart of the Joydebpur community. There's also the chronological Shib Temple. They are all situated very close to each other. So you won't need to trek much. It is indeed a place to go for a change. Try visiting while the guests are still here. They won't disappoint you.

By Farzana Yasmeen

Reader's Chit

The bond between sisters

Time disappears in the blink of an eye. In an instant the moment becomes a matter of the past. Time rushes by, grabbing hold of instances of joy and sorrow, locking them away in the memory. It would take ages to recount the memories, especially the sweet ones, of Sumi and Rumi. At times Rumi has the urge to sift through the old memories. But it doesn't have the same charm as when Sumi is there with her. Together they reminisce about the times when they would steal mango pickles from the balcony of their house twenty years ago or about lying down on a straw mat during the new moon to watch the fireflies dance in unison. There were stories of scaring the next door neighbour with ghostly pranks or walking through the rain after school and facing the stern look of their mother.

Even though Sumi was three years older than me, we were as close as twins because there were no other siblings. We would drive our parents up the walls with our pranks. There would often be complaints from the neighbours. Sumi was smarter than me and would come up with all the ideas. I would instantly carry them out.

People would comment that we were more friends than sisters. Even though we looked completely different, our mentality was the same. I could tell what she would be thinking just by looking at her face. But now...?

Rumana Kader Rumi has been narrating her childhood memories. She is still single and teaches at an English medium school. Sumi got married about ten years ago after finishing the school final exams. She was married to Liton, the son of their father's friend. He lived in London and that is where he took Sumi within seven days of meeting her and marrying her.

For Rumi there was a lot of anger against her parents, for marrying off her sister so quickly to someplace far away. Rumi felt like an amputee with her other half somewhere else. At first she wrote everyday. Replies were prompt but later it decreased to one reply a month. Despite that Sumi wrote about all her joy and sorrows regarding her new life.

In ten years Sumi came to Bangladesh twice but it seemed she was always pressed for time attending social functions. Those days of sitting under the moonlight and reminiscing were permanently a thing of the past. A distance has been created and a known face seems so unknown. A line stuck on Rumis mind, "The time is gone, the song is over, though I'd something more to say…."

It's a different case for the three sisters Bakul, Parul and Shimul. Time has not been able to leave them behind. For them staying without talking to each other even for a week would be akin to suffocation. They are more or less in their mid forties but look younger. Their explanation to this is that they are able to support each other by sharing all their worries. A fit mind leads to overall fitness.

The close bonding does have a lot to do with getting married and living in the same city. In fact they explain that they are so close that they feel they do not really need any other friends. At times people have tried to break them up out of sheer jealousy. For some its only human nature to do so. Of course, the sisters have fought but these have been insignificant and were resolved in a matter of days. They break up in wild laughter as one of them suggests that now even their husbands will start to conspire against them.

Out of five sisters Lolita and Nandita were born close together. In fact they looked so similar that people often mistook them for twins. For this reason they even dressed alike to fool people. Guests would come and stumble identifying the sisters. And their school teacher would make a blunder almost everyday. It was not only in looks but the similarities also extended to their personalities.

This similarity extended to the fact that they even wanted to get married on the same day. The other siblings were not too happy with the idea but in the end the father decided to grant the two sisters their wish.

Even now the distance between their two homes is great but their bond is still strong. Any holidays and vacations are spent together. They still talk to their hearts content about their personal matters. It brings a mental peace that is second to none.

Of course not all relationships are as sweet. Some sisters can be each others greatest enemies. Never mind not being able to stand the sight. They cannot even stand seeing the shadow of the other person. Such differences in childhood can create greater rifts in adult life. At times parental love not being equally given could be the reason. Such jealousy or angst can turn a sweet relationship into that of misery.

By Sultana Yasmin Translated by Ehsanur Raza Ronny


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