Idle thoughts in the last days of winter
I am a proud resident of Chittagong--as was earlier dubbed 'the mighty queen of the East' beautifully nestling between the shores of roaring sea and sublime beauty of hills & hillocks standing in myriad tranquillity that stretches along with greenery abound. A 7th century Chinese traveller and poet Huen Tsang described Chittagong as a 'sleeping beauty 'emerging from mists and water'. To add to this glorious attributes of ancient Chinese poet I must mention, at this point, that Chittagong is like a precious pink pearl in the womb of golden oyster emerging from the waltzing waves of Bay of Bengal.
Long history of Chittagong reveals that having been attracted by its geo-physical charm & grandeur, scintillating location with gifts of nature; Arab and Portuguese travellers and traders came to Chittagong and established a sea port with a given name Porte-Grande along the shore of Bay of Bengal and the bank of river karnafuly--a gifted natural harbour in the region. During the rule of British Raj, centring on the economic and trading potentials of Chittagong port, Chittagong gained its due importance after Calcutta and became a commercial hub in the eastern region of the sub-continent. All this as briefly described, obviously makes any human souls to be proud of a place he is born in.
I am equally proud of being a citizen of Bangladesh which emerged as a Nation State at the cost of bloods of 3 million beleaguered sons and daughter martyred in long nine months Liberation War that this writer had had also the opportunity to be a part of it among thousands other freedom fighter in the battle field.
A landmass of 55 thousand square kilometres with bounties of nature where 700 rivers and tributaries with total length of 24,140 km run across like arteries and veins. There one can see dancing streams in serpentine choreography that inspires the shepherd boys to create sweet and melancholic tune in bamboo flute and apathetic boatmen to create magic in their mystic bhatiali songs with the rippling rhythm of running rivers. That is what the telling beauties of Bangladesh that I adorn from the core of my heart and take huge pride to be its citizen.
I have no less love and adulation for Dhaka--the historical city of mosques established by the Moghls where I lived for more than two decades before I kicked off my heels for permanent settlement in Chattogram as renamed from the given name of Chittagong by the British during their rule. A bustling mega city which houses about 20 million people is now taking its new face with towering buildings, flyovers and lot more ongoing development works including metro-rails and subway to gradually portray a replica of a world class city when Bangladesh will be graduated to the rank of a developed country in 2041.
To refresh my warm association and circulation with old friends and colleague of bygone days I often make my way and time to visit Dhaka. In one of my visits in last couple of days, I made my way to grand Ekushey Boi Mela (Book Fair) and have had the occasion to buy some books of my choice. Side by side, with nicely decorated book stalls, a few eateries and modestly done hygienic toilet block have drawn the attention of the visitors. Apart from showing love for books, I confess that I could not check my temptation to relish the taste of Fuska and Chotpoti on sale in the makeshift hangout.
I met one young man in my Fuska table and asked him casually what he was doing. He told me that he was pursuing his studies in Daffodil University. I asked him if he knew anything about daffodil. His answer was negative. He knew daffodil only as the name of the university where he studied. I asked him further if he read William Wordsworth's daffodils. He answered; he never heard the name of William Wordsworth or daffodil. I, then briefly explained to him on my own accord, about Wordsworth and daffodils. He only gave a blank look at me and quickly whisked out from Fuska table after devouring the content.
With the given situation, I had nothing to do other than feeling pity for William Wordsworth in the grave whose name is still remained unheard, after 169 years of his death, by a student studying in the University of his Daffodils' name sake. I wished William Wordsworth sleeping in his grave in peace. With this wishes, I in my solitude murmur "...... In vacant or in pensive mood/They flush upon the inward eye/which is the bliss of solitude/And then my heart with pleasure fills/And dances with daffodils". (Daffodils, William Wordsworth)
On my way back from Boi Mela (Book Fare) to Gulshan area, I had no difficulty in calling an Uber car through the efforts of someone caring me, because of my perennial digital illiteracy in handling devices in Smart Phone that I am equally illiterate to use with my worn-out intelligent level drifting on the thread of senility. Cruising through disgusting traffic jam, at last I reached my destination in two hours time with long sigh of relief.
In the following day as I had to return to my sweet city Chattogram by an evening flight, I took my lunch at an elite club at Gulshan with the warm association of my sweet granddaughter Areesha (3) who was visiting Dhaka separately with her parents on some other family program. After my granddaughter Areesha left the venue for their own program, I had some extra idle time in hand to pass, before flight time draws near. I kept myself seated comfortably on a thick cushioned sofa and engaged myself watching cricket in wide-screen Tv set.
Cricket being a popular game these days with a strong world-class national cricket team in Bangladesh in place, there is no dearth of cricket fans with unbound craze and excitement wherever any national or international match is on play and tele-cast live in TV. Equally, being not only a cricket fan but also a genuine player in my prime time of youth, interest in cricket in me has not yet totally exhausted. In the course of watching match, with other enthusiasts, I also expressed my excitement with loud sound when fours and sixes were shot or a ball gliding in the sky was caught by an agile and nimble fielder.
At time the match was over, other fellow viewers so long set before TV set were gone leaving me alone in the TV. Lounge with being imbibed in idle thoughts of receding winter evening and counting time for catching flight. Suddenly a gentleman, seemingly a cricket enthusiast, rushed in the TV. Lounge and saw me sitting idly with heaving sighs of fatigue and exhaustion. He asked me about who won the match. In response to his query, with a wry smile, I just gave a blank look at him with no response to his query.
The gentlemen, seemingly kind and intelligent, quickly came in my defence and said smilingly, 'oh! You also came late and not watched the match. It was then time for me to proceed for airport to catch the flight for Chattogram. On way to airport I was ruminating over my state of being guzzled in forgetfulness while watching the cricket for hours and eventually failed to recall who won when the match came to an end.
Having reached airport, it was now my turn to board the aircraft. Cabin crew in smiles welcomed the passengers with a large army of mosquitoes flying all over the cabin of aircraft. After the aircraft was airborne, mosquitoes started their operation of biting ceaselessly even at the high attitude. One of the angry passengers suggested spraying some aerosol to combat the army of mosquitoes. Cabin crew informed that spray was done earlier before the passengers got on board.
By the time flight landed at Chattogram airport at twilight hour with sky wearing crimson shroud in the west horizon, mosquitoes happily quenched their thirst for fresh human blood with leaving the passengers briskly going back home with itching of hands and feet caused by menacing mosquito bites. To be with mosquitoes for some while when you are airborne is an experience in deed no matter how unpleasant it is.
The writer is a former Civil Servant