1. Our imperfect life: We, the humans are mostly unrealistic in our search for perfection in life. Friends and relatives around me seek complete happiness in life, desire perfect love, and want to climb to the top steps of the society. Not many of us will be content with anything less from the blessings of life.
“I know one can’t have everything, but just this one thing could have been perfect in life,” says my friend John, a writer with dreams of hitting bestsellers’ lists with one of his novels. On the other hand, let’s imagine a world where the sun shines with perfect brightness in harsh winter days, or the moon sending its silver beams every night. The nature with its imperfection is a personification our life on the Earth.Living life to the brim is to experience life to its fullest, and that without getting lost in the realities. A life filled with dreams is a mirage. Our wants are endless, the fulfillment of one brings in a new desire. It takes the strength of mind to accept the truth that life will not run as expected, that one can end up in a second place and not the first. One of my earlier life lessons came from my uncle and mentor, Late Waheedul Haque. When I began freelancing with different newspapers early in life, I wanted to be contributing to the ones with the highest circulations. I could not reach their mark and suffer from low self-esteem. Uncle Waheedul pointed out, “What’s wrong with being with the number two? We all have to take baby steps to run with the wolves you know.” He mentioned, how he too had worked in different newspapers before joining the top one. I found a ground to my dreams and started writing to different newspapers, and finally, I began to see my work get more publications. Uncle Waheedul would tell us, “There is a lesson in every step of life. And when you reach good places in your life, take others with you. Leave your footprints for others to follow and find their ways.”
It is notable that the past years have witnessed changes in family patterns like no other times. Broken families have children struggling in life, while parents face new challenges with single parenting. Families are no longer bound to marriages of the opposite sexes only; there are same-sex marriages that come with the beautiful parenting of adopted children.
In the midst of many good things with family matters, it is sad when parents decide to live separately. One wonders if so much of family disintegration come from high expectations of the parents from each other. When a perfect courtship leads to a happy marriage, and then suddenly one day it all ends with a messy divorce, people say, “All was well in the honeymoon period. When reality hit, the husband and the wife became strangers to each other.” As humans we have our flaws, relationships call for adjustments of two individuals, two people who share the roof with different opinions of the world they share.
As the great writer Haruki Murakami has said, “Don’t pointless things have a place too, in this far-from-perfect world? Remove everything pointless from an imperfect life, and it loses even its imperfection.”
When I was born, life held its own time; the clock set nothing on my mother’s table. And my time for the final departure is not on a marked day or time on my calendar either. In this enigma of birth and death, in their unpredictability, I find the preciousness of living in this world.
2. The fox gets married: Bengali folk tales from my childhood came with occasional mentions of the foxes marrying on monsoon days, or the ‘khek shiyaler biye’. Those were supposed to be days when the rain and sun played hide and seek with one another.The reason for the assumptions of foxes getting married or choosing particular weather remains a mystery to this day. Some other tales had accounts of rural women who had to run in and out of the huts to dry their laundry during the monsoon season. The women would give out their wet clothes and hang them out to dry under a blazing sun. And then, suddenly, as happens in the rainy days, the sky would get dark, and the rain would start pouring. The women would run to get their laundry in. As soon as the clothes were inside, the rain would disappear, and the sun would be out. Since the seasonal rainfall had housewives going up and down the steps of their huts, the referred to as the “rain of the dancing bride.”
While the fox got married or the women danced with laundry, elsewhere, the villagers would be eating puffed rice with seasonal fruits like jackfruits and mangoes. The rainy days were also the season to taste a kind of rice cakes made from fan palm fruits called ‘taler pitha.’ The rainy days brought its seasonal fruits. Village life in Sylhet found me roaming around the orchard. Pick the ripe guavas and store them in the pockets of my dress. Gusts of wind would blow mangoes down, and the special treat was to eat them right under the trees. The joy of eating fruits in that wild way remains unequal to any place I had eaten mangoes in my life, not even the five-star hotels.
On stormy days, the wind and rain took down mangoes in heaps, needing extra help from the villager to gather them and get them inside the house. When lightning and thunders were terrible, my grandmother would forbid me to go mango picking.
The villagers believed that it was during this rainy season, on nights of the new moon that the ghosts came to the fan palm trees, or ‘tal gach’. It was a habit among villagers to stay far from those trees at night. Anyone acting strangely was believed to be possessed by ghosts from the fan palm tree. I still recall how if I ever found myself alone in the orchard and near a ‘tall each’, I would run as if the most prominent ghost himself was chasing me.
I still wonder though, if the ghosts if they are real at all, have not relocated themselves to my present life station in America. I do not believe in ghosts, but…
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA