Farewell to Ganderia!
(Readers, sorry for the pause. So my journey through life re-starts. I promise to continue for as long as I can.)
Life in Ganderia was most engaging and colourful. I had developed friendship with a number of local kids of my age. And there was no dearth of juvenile pranks. We used to play all kinds of games. I was particularly good in cricket as has been told before. But with the untimely deaths of Baba, Maa and Didi the three of us, Bhaia, Jhunu and I became restive. Add to it, some of our relatives and friends kept saying that there must be something wrong with our home. So we locked the house and left for a small rented apartment in Maghbazar. Such was our distress that we failed to register the impact of this leaving our abode of over a decade. So there was not saying a formal farewell to my home. But news does get around. The day before we were supposed to leave Salahuddin and Wasek came to see me and muttered just one word, "Jabiga"? This, I am afraid, cannot be translated. I would therefore try to fall back on my inadequate adaptation capability and say that perhaps the closest one could get is "So you are leaving?" This one simple word was loaded with so much of emotion that I broke down in tears. And what a torrent it was!
After that I went back to Ganderia on occasional visits every now and then and was pained to have found that my most loving abode was fast dissipating in to an urban slum. One of those days I woke up very early and went back to Ganderia to go around the places where I frequented with my local friends: The quaint little railway station with black cinder-spread platform and the flaming Krishnachura trees. In summer the Krishnachura flowers created a riot of colours. I sat on the wooden benches for a while and ruminated. There were so many memories of my childhood and adolescence entwined with places like this. The tank of Jatin Das close by. The antiquated house of Dinanath Sen, The Ganderia High School and, of course, right across the railway track the lush green paddy fields and vegetable patches. I was full of remorse having to leave this area but our home was too painful for the present. So I closed the book and stashed it away to revisit at some later period of my life.
And now the locality has become unrecognisably ugly. What is more, as the time advanced, most people of the locality that I was friendly with, were lost to the vagaries of time. They were either dead or, like us, left Ganderia.
I was seldom at ease with Maghbazar, where we had made our new home. Firstly, the area seemed alien and devoid of friends that I had grown up with and secondly, this was an area that had very little or no character. I now know that I should not have complained. For, the whole city of Dhaka has become devoid of character. Well, my complaints are not unfounded. The cities of New York or Paris have a distinct character. But Dhaka had another story. Today there are no traces of the famous Dhakaiya culture anywhere. In fact the Dhakaiyas are a rare commodity here in this city. The late Sayeed Ahmed our most dear playwright Sayeed bhai used to lament about this in our nightly addas. He came from the famous family of Kader Sarder of Ashek lane off Islampur and missed it dearly. Sayeed bhai was full of Dhakaiya antics. We used to have hilarious sessions discussing the fabulous time we had in old Dhaka.
On arriving at Maghbazar, the initial days went in bringing the disarrayed mind to order. Then, as if in a dream, I was reminded about my primary tasks; studies, by my parents and Didi.
They left me in a lurch so early in life.