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Rummana Choudhury
8 articles


Writer: Rummana Choudhury Category: প্রবন্ধ (Essay) Edition: Dhaboman - Eid 2018

     You gaze at the dense green mango trees all around you and momentarily, the enigmatic mist of creation and extinction engulfs you. There is no profusion of ethereal ivory mango blossoms anywhere, anymore. But you envision their precious bounty surrounding you every summer. This month of your birth is so special to you. On the fifth day of this glorious month, the Almighty Creator Had Chosen to Introduce you to the alien universe. On the twenty seventh day of this month He Had Chosen to Take away your father from this world. As someone once said, Life and Death always go hand in hand. You were born to die while your father dies and goes into another world. It is all a vicious, yet beautiful cycle. Your daughter was born on the twentieth of March and your mother died on the twenty sixth of March. One is born to die while another dies and makes space for the future generation. There is an underlying meaning and objective for everything, a sort of co-relation between the yester years, today and tomorrow. 

      You remember taking a deep breath and inhaling the sweet fragrance of the mango orchard in your beloved Bangladesh. Your father had taught you the distinctive differences in taste and fragrance of the various kinds of mangoes. Lengrha, fojli, gopalbhoog, heemshagor, kheershapat, ranipashand, gooti and the late ashhinas. During the British rule of India, the ranipashand mangoes were extremely loved by one of the adored queens and the ashhinas were liked because they sprouted and ripened when all other mangoes were gone. When you have lived in a foreign country for over thirty-five years you almost forget the exquisite taste of tropical fruits like your beloved mangoes. North America of course imports a lot of fruits from Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Vietnam, India and other countries. Over the long years you have acquainted yourself with the unique taste of Alphanso, Kesar and Badami mangoes from India, mangosteen from Vietnam, jackfruit, lychee and Dorian from China. But nothing can be compared with the tropical fruits from Bangladesh with their exceptional taste mingled with your unseen, inherent roots and heritage. You feel Bangladeshi mangoes are, at their core, wrapped up with the essence of your birthplace. This comprises their unparallel flavour. 

      You get ready for work. As usual, your eye pencil does not glide on smoothly as it should. It needs sharpening. You always think of telling your daughter to get you one which can be rolled up and never needs sharpening. One of those things in life which you always think about but never actually gets done. You could also start using surma, charcoal powder dust, like your grandmother, with a carved, silver pot and applicator. She used to hold you in her lap and whisper that it keeps your eyesight going even at the age of ninety! You wonder, where does this magical powder actually come from? 

   You try to lock your front door before hastily heading off for the day.  You try several keys, none of which work. Why would they work? You are in a rush!  For the keys to work the universe would need to be in your favour. The key with which you finally lock your door ends up being the very last one that you try in the entire bunch! You step into your van, and the gas is at its lowest possible level, yet you take the risk and move forward, only to be stuck trailing behind a gigantic truck half the way to your office. Why does the Almighty Above Give you trials and errors every step of the way this morning? You regain your spirits once again after an unusually complex day at work is finally over. You go to McDonalds behind your office at Yonge street to taste their new Fall coffee flavours and relish the pumpkin spice Latte made with freshly ground espresso. You will try the skinny vanilla latte tomorrow. Or maybe the Mocha premium roast. Such a lot of warm ways to say thank you to the Creator Above. You get to thinking out loud. You are feeling humbled and greatful once more. How could the human race survive if all the Songbirds of this world disappeared? You thank the universe for the melodious tunes that the Songbirds are singing to you right at that very moment.  

      You turn on the television at dinner time. The desperate plight of the Syrian refugees break your heart. You think about the Blind Fest which was held in Calgary last July and your heart goes out to them. The pillars of Awareness, Respect and Independence amongst those people who cannot see the sunlight or the moonlight was absolutely amazing. The closing concert on the last day had made you speechless. It was a perfect fusion between lyric and melody for the entire crowd of blind people who understood the world through their other senses. They lacked sight, but not their vision. And then there are people like Frank Grey, one of the best architects of Toronto. The television was airing an interview of this eighty- three years old genius. Architecture was his passion and he was using words like 'promiscuous', 'curvy' and 'body language' to describe the art of concrete structures. He was talking about the "humanized buildings" of the 19th century which, according to him, had "humanized movements." He was saying that Greek buildings showed movements, Indian architecture and figures showed movements and the fishes in the sea had those same movements. That indeed sparks your imagination and creativity. Inspires you to travel to another finer world to see the unseen. 

      Last year, when the month of September was almost coming to an end, you had to stop and ponder.  On one hand, the election was coming up next month on October nineteenth, so campaigning between the Liberals, NDP, PC and Green Party were going forward in full swing. On the other hand, chaos and confusion around the world were climaxing.  You decide to drop everything and look for alternatives.  You contemplate again and again, what should or could be done?  The flowing and ebbing of the tide. You go to see the performance of Parvati Baul who had travelled from India to Toronto. In the presence of her 

worldliness and discover infinite happiness for a brief but bright moment. For a short span of time, you felt like you had tied up all of your worldly wants and demands and started walking towards a path gilded in eternal peace.

      Enlightenment and spirituality made Parvati's face radiant, as if she was immersed in a world of her very own, some how parallel to the material world I was most familiar with. She tapped her feet in circles, swaying her body round and round, and she seemed to be having an “out-of-body experience”. She had entered another world in her mind through her soul. A world which made her look happy and unbelievably content. A little drum was tied to her waist with a ribbon which she tapped with her left hand, while she played an ektara, a one-stringed guitar, with her right hand. Her long tresses caught in numerous tangled, unrushed braids were swaying along her back all the way down to her feet. She sang charjageeti and twirled in circles with her eyes closed over and over again. This was a unique method of releasing the spirit from the body to go to a higher level. The music from her anklets transcended you to another universe. Her voice was soft and melodious but with an underlying hint of steel. Her meditative songs echoed with mysticism and unending philosophy. As she went round and round in circles with her braids twirling in the air she reminded you of Rumi and those white loosely clad dancers going in circles with total abandonment to release the spirit from the body. The lyrics of those ancient baul songs were very difficult to comprehend. You try your best to understand its inherent, ancient philosophy.  Sometimes the demarcation between life and death is very fine and undistinguishable splotches of grey cloud your vision.  Bits and pieces of life’s tapestry often enlightens you.  Makes you understand the living soul and the departed spirit.

"You are black

I am black

The world is dark

The shimmer of the black girl's beauty filled the world...

 You feel the ebony dark waves of the Jamuna river gently immersing your entire being."





 Rummana Chowdhury has authored thirty six books and is a social and cultural activist in Toronto. She writes short stories, poetry, columns and analytical articles