“How do seasons change?”
And on philosophical lines — “Why?”
The ancients looked at the night sky and noticed movements of the constellations in utter astonishment. They were bedazzled by the sheer beauty of a star-lit sky on a cloudless evening, and despite being awed by the grandeur, it was through this wonder they gradually learned to predict how changes in the heavens up above mirrored the laws followed by Mother Earth.
It was a time long before cities were built; millennia before we had acquired speech. In Bengal, just like many other parts of the world, life circled around the seasons.
As it does still.
There is an undying reality that we have moved on. Cities have changed; and the villages are no longer about finding glory in poverty with their thatched roofs and a haystack in the courtyard.
Lives of people have changed in every aspect. We are no longer what we were, and we do not think the way we did even a decade ago.
Perhaps, it would be wrong to expect the vision of a peaceful pastoral setting the first time we visit our ancestral home after two decades. In fact, it would be totally wrong. Even, somewhat selfish!
Be that as it may, it would also be wrong to say that the changing seasons no longer have an effect on how we lead our lives.
And thus we celebrate! For the love of the seasons. And hence, this week, we bring you our interpretation of the seasons of Bangladesh...
There was a time, when the changing seasons reminded the farmer that it was time to till the fields; it prompted the fisherman to take the boat out on the river for the fresh catch of the season; and it also warned the “shareng” to be on his guard while venturing out against raging tides and furious winds. The farmer now gets his news from the TV and the fisherman from the radio. But there will always be that instinct; the “hunch” that shall prevail, for memories that have embedded in our psyches evolved through millennia cannot be erased so soon!
Recollecting thoughts of seasons invariably takes us on a journey down memory lane. The nostalgia of the sound of raindrops on our tin roofs; the cacophony of a Poush Mela; offerings at the altar on the last day of Poush —each individual responding to their own set of emotions, which they can fondly carry no matter where they are.
In the modern context, this is truer for the first generation of city dwellers. Need we remind, that too is far back in our collective memory? We are now perhaps third, or even fourth generation of Dhaka dwellers, and with time, the memories of a pastoral ancestry are disappearing fast!
It is more due to Bengal’s innate romanticism than meteorological reality that it has six seasons. True, evident in common vernacular for eons has been that each season comprises two months, in reality they simply roll into another.
Grishsho —Summer— seems predictable, more about passion and the zest for life. Everything old and dull is put away so that life is embraced with renewed, reinvigorated spirits.
The colours of Baishakh are reminiscent of its indomitable nature. Red, a hue so redolent with life force and energy, is symbolic of the Baishakhi spirit in every possible way. A beacon of positivity for the coming year and a glimmer of prosperity as radiant as the dazzling sun. And white — for everything pure in life and the world around us.
As far as change of the seasons is concerned, we are quick to predict cruel summers, drenching monsoons, and the bone-chilling torment that the bite of winter always is. Yet, the entire seasons of Sharat and Hemanta go quietly, often unnoticed.
Most of us are oblivious to the mystical emotion of being touched by clouds manoeuvring on the clear sky like white cotton candy, or derive the pleasure from the purity of the ´kaash phul’ on stretched arable lands. From the distance, the kans grass seems like a stretch of white carpet. The dense aggregate of the long stem, topped with a snowy blossom.
And while we romance on an expanding field of kans grass and the emotions it evokes in us, facts remain that “kaash” is a weed, only fodder for cattle.
Undoubtedly, Spring still heralds a change of time that punctuates between the harshness of the Bengal winter —the chilly Poush and the severe Magh— and the cruelty of the unforgiving summer ––Baishakh and Chaitra— with a bout of comfort soaked in infinite beauty.
Spring is still a season of change. It is a season of colours; the blooms in an array of fiery shades proclaiming the coming of a new hour.
And it is a season of love: when the cuckoo still call for their mates in the wilderness, and from pockets of manmade green spaces.
We are as smitten by the splendours of Spring as we were decades ago; overwhelmed by the flamboyant rejuvenation of nature; the metamorphosis of a desolate Winter into anticipated warm days gushing forth in small packages of a short-run period.
Life inevitably comes to a full circle as seasons repeat themselves, and years pass by. We began our journey singing along in drunken ecstasy with a poignant question, “Why? Why do seasons change?” “Why does Grishsho roll onto Barsha, till Bashanta rolls into Baishakh— an inevitable change we see in what surrounds us?” And then one is left to answer the most pertinent query of all — Is it only nature that changes? Does it not change our everyday lives with it?
No matter how isolated we consider ourselves to be from nature, or our pastoral past, none can deny the greater power that mysteriously makes the skies change, the rivers overflow, or make the winds hover over the seas gathering power, and finally dying on land after biting with its most vicious wrath. We see the seasons purify earth with scorching heat, only to calm it down with a splash of rainfall so that planters can cultivate and reap the bounties of the lands made fertile again by rivers gushing beyond their boundaries. We cannot escape the subtlety of autumn or help be in awe as it etches its mark on nature, and in our collective Bengali existence. And when winter comes and spring follows, lives change with passing day of every passing season.
We have learned to look beyond the unbelievably stagnant traffic, the water logging or the stench of the soil coming from putrid potholes. If not, we should. Rain in the city gives us some hope, the decaying city that we live in has some hope, some vitality in it. Showers inevitably bring memories of small things that matter still, or mattered once. And perhaps, should matter still. People running in the rain in search of shelter; street children making merry with the neighbourhood canines; young boys planning a game of 5-a-side football – these are the subtleties that now make life in the city still bearable, still worth living. All one needs is an observant eye.
The beauty of rain is the memory of the first raindrop on your head while holding hands with your loved ones, it’s the late night coffees at work waiting for the rain to stop.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Models: Naziba, Iccha, Aura, Kripa, Ina
Styling: Sonia Yeasmin Isha
Makeup: Farzana Shakil’s Makeover Salon