Tuesday, 5 July, 2022
E-paper

With the Wind

Life in Rolling

Tulip Chowdhury

Life in Rolling
Tulip Chowdhury

It's midway through 2022, and it is summertime in New England. I am intrigued by the seasonal neighbors around our house. They hide in the green grass of our lawn, some in the trees, and more under the ground. The bees and butterflies fly around the rose bushes. Right beneath them, the earthworms come out of their holes in the earth to bask in the sun. The summer guests pour in with migrating birds joining the morning chorus.

It's a joy to be outside these days. Walking is a good form of exercise, and the benefit is double when one can listen to soulful bird songs and the buzzing of the bees. If YouTube demo videos of moving for health had failed to make me jog or run, the squirrels and rabbits I meet when I am outside have lured me to go out on walks. Thanks to them, I enjoy the day's sun and fresh air. That may be the story from this part of my world right now; exciting things are happening in other parts of the globe for the seasons. In Bangladesh, the summers are the "aam-kathaler deen." In other words, it is the time when the mangoes and the jackfruits ripen. The warm days come with lychees, blackberries, and other wild fruits that are so delicious that once you get addicted to them, no matter which part of the world life has stationed you, you are nostalgic about the rich fruity summers back home.

Summers and winters in Bangladesh come with different seasonal flowers and fruits. Those were days before hybridizing when intermixing to increase production became the norm of farming. With the world population going up, going for more farming was necessary, but in a way, the momentary joy of being in the season is veiled. Our former neighbor, an octogenarian, Ms. Khan says, "Cauliflowers and cabbages in summer do not taste as good as in winter. Eating mango in winter feels odd, and they don't taste as juicy as they do when they ripen in the exploding heat of the summer. Being out of the season for fruits typically grown in hot weather is not the same."

Having fruits and vegetables throughout the year is a blessing for the younger generation. At the same time, the past holds fond remembrance for some and could be a learning process for the present generations. We had fewer farm produce in the past, but they were fresh. In the efforts to avail fresh produce in the market steady, the use of chemicals has become an alarming health hazard for the people in Bangladesh, especially in the town areas. There is much hue and cry raised on this issue, and the selling of contaminated food continues to pour into the market. There is a need for moral awakening before sellers think twice about leading their customers to death beds in the long run. The change for the good has to happen from the inside. The government interventions during the past times have was not a complete success in stopping the illegal use of chemicals in food.

Stepping back to our summer guests in feathers and furs, we are lucky to have them around our home in Massachusetts. Some trees and bushes wait for the feathery guests to avail their branches for the nests. And the ground is good with plants and soil to make space for rabbits and earthworms. Unfortunately, in the towns in Bangladesh, more so for the metropolitan Dhaka, the green has nearly disappeared in the urge to increase housing. It's difficult to compare the city in the late 60s in terms of its greenery to the current times. When I came from Sylhet to visit relatives, my grandmother’s Dhanmondi houses had spacious lawns with mango, jackfruit, coconut, and other trees. Spring in Dhanmondi meant waking up with the song of the cuckoo calling to break the silence of dawns. We were not fearful of getting mugged when alone in the streets, and food was fresh and free of chemicals. There was peace, and life felt good.

One can reason all the urban growth to accommodate the growing population, but we could have improved health and safety if the development had better planning. For instance, there was a restriction on high-rise buildings in Dhanmondi which kept population growth a bit checked while it lasted. The regulations came back, but because of profit margins, people scrambled to have their permits for high-rises, and the elephant in the room was the money passed under the tables to pave the ways to have the licenses. Undoubtedly some good people try to keep things on the right path so that the city continues to be suitable for living. The money-grabber often outnumber the good, and we continue to lose the greenery.

Summers, fall, winters, and spring: seasons come with their blessings. Nature has two sides, the beautiful and the cruel. When we don't take care of the place we live in, we lose more than what meets the eyes. When guest birds flock in the waters in winter, they should not become the target for dinner tables. The cuckoos heralding spring bring love for the much appreciated season. For the most changes happening through seasonal changes, we get a chance to get acquainted with other living things that move with the changes. There is a reminder that life is a metaphor, and we keep rolling to keep in stride with time.

 

Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA