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First day back in my Baari

July 2, 2019
Mum and me – Feb 2019

I was funded by Transforming Narratives to undertake a research and development project in Bangladesh in February 2019.  The aim was to work with Tanvir Murad a.k.a Topu a renowned photographer, for a project called ‘waterways’.  I had the opportunity to travel to Dhaka, Bhola and Chandpur to conclude, I spent six days in my village.  I have since returned and held an exhibition in Birmingham and all the photos were sold for a water filtration project in the Bangladesh region of Khulna through Human Appeal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6Vn4-OpKAc).  Whilst there, something profound happened; I recall having dinner with Sophina Jagot and explaining that I wanted to be a writer…she, said ‘you are a writer – keep writing’…..it appears that I have been given license to write.  As part of my new found confidence, I have written four blogs of my time in Bangladesh and this is the first one. 

After seven days of non-stop travel I was looking forward to spending some quality time in my baari (family home).  I took an overnight first class coach from Dhaka to Sylhet.  The coach had wi-fi, and executive seats, but I was sat near an auntie who was vomiting throughout the journey.  So, I didn’t get much sleep, not to mention the excitement of heading home – yes, still home even after leaving at the age of six.  I recall speaking to the driver and saying, ‘the coach maybe first class, but the road is third class’, he agreed with me.  Bangladesh has much more to do to improve its infrastructure.  I arrived at 5:30am in Sylhet and spent most of the day with my cousin who now resides there. He is part of a growing middle class that has left the village to educate his children in the city. 

We set off for our village in mid-afternoon and arrived just after six. For the first time, I have seen the place lit up by new found electricity, which arrived in our village a few months ago. The government’s promise of bringing light to the whole country is finally bearing fruit. The government has set ambitious target to ensure that the whole country has electricity by the end 2019. Time will tell…but for a country bursting with development and recently outstripping India and Pakistan in growth, it all seems possible.

Whilst in Dhaka and surrounding regions, I saw caterpillar digging machines busy at work. I was surprised to see them on route to my village. Bridges are being built and ponds being extended to become small fisheries.  It seems that the country is in constant phase of development.  Discussions with everyone seems to be optimistic with a new found confidence in the growth of the country.  People are able to earn a half decent living without having to leave the country for the first time in decades.  A baby taxi driver can earn in the region of £300.00 per month.  In the past, you would have to go to the Middle East to take your chances for that amount of earning potential. 

All visits to my village are filled with emotion as I return to my childhood playground. I remain rooted to this place no matter how far I move away.  I yearn for a time when I can spend longer stretches in my village.  Each visit seems more fleeting from the last one.  As I drove into the village with my cousin I was met by my mum and several relatives. They’ve been eagerly waiting for my arrival all day. I asked my mum, have you been looking forward to seeing me, her response almost curt….’what mother doesn’t eagerly wait for her son’.  It’s always a joy to come here.  For the first time we have electricity, wiring and trunking that looks semi decent. I comment to my nephew about it, he said ‘it could have been better, they didn’t stick to my instructions, and he adds that theory is one thing but doing it in practice is another thing’.

After dinner and lively banter, I head to bed being over tired. The next morning I sleep in for the first time in days as I feel slightly under the weather. My nephew woke me up for breakfasts. I amble down to the dining table and enjoy chappatis and baazi.  The vegetable was grown in the baari. Thufa my cousin who looks after our baari, complains we have three rogue monkeys that have come to the village and they have been eating all the small pumpkins and papayas – they have been terrorising the whole village. She has been trying to capture them with a cage to no avail.  She said that she covered the pumpkins with a net, but the monkey remove the net like a human does…she adds ‘this is a monkey after all and I have been defeated by him’.

After breakfast I sit outside by my mum to take in the sun.  This is where my father would have sat. Memories of him come flooding back…I recall when they would both sit together and take in the morning sun. Those days have sadly come to pass. I am fearful that the days when I sit with my mum will come to pass.  I am overwhelmed with emotions and can longer hold back the tears.  I move back into the house and shed some tears and console myself.  I tell myself that we have to cherish the moments that we have. Soon enough I will visit my father’s graveyard to pay my respects…each time I return, it is like a ritual and I give him an account of myself.  I give him an update on my daughters….and imagine how proud he would have been of them.  Even in death, it seems, I seek his approval.  He sadly passed away in 2006 and I recall returning back to the village with him and my brothers on a boat in a star filled night, and thinking that ‘I will leave the stars to gaze upon you, whilst you nourish the land you loved’.  Rest in peace, until the next account…..




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2 Comments
  1. Rimel permalink

    Nicely written gentle account of your thougts. Keep it up

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