A tale of a village – A Nostalgia never fades away in memory
By Dipnarayan Maity
Located at the extreme south of West Bengal, this tiny little village never be noticed on the map of West Bengal unless one would search it on Google Map as millions of villages in India. Midnapur – Contai – Digha, the only state highway, runs through the middle of the village and also marked as the mid point in between two towns Egra and Belda 15 km away each. Zilla town Midnapur is at 60 km distance. 15 hamlets sprawling in almost 63 square km in this village, Sauri, and all are connected through zippable roads made it possible to access civilising influences, thanks to the growing networks. It stretched about 7km from east to west and 9km from north to south.
Paharichak gets the first light of the morning whereas Shyamsundarpur experiences the last light of the day. In the north, Babla and Agarbarh have made the border with Purba Medinipur while Ekarukhi and Gopalpur lie on the south. On the Southwest, Orisha state has made the border with the district of Paschim Medinipur.
The dialect of the people in this region is greatly influenced by this neighbouring state. Bay of Bengal is only 55 km away. Frequent depression on Bay of Bengal plays greater role for its climatic behaviour specially in Summer and Monsoonal rain.
The beauty and diversity of nature of villages of Bangladesh are not only confined in poet’s imagination but it reveals into the heart of rural Bengal and comes with different forms and colours in every season. After dazzling summer, advent of monsoon brings great relief, sometimes it is exalted and terrible. Ponds ,lakes are filled up with water. Repetitive croaking of frogs and uninterrupted noise of grig challenge the grumbling of clouds as night progresses. After prolonged wet and humid rainy season, the mood of the nature swings again when the monsoon starts to retreat around the month of September, deep blue sky peeping out of white clouds and the glistening morning dew on the blades of grass announce the arrival of autumn. Rain has gone but lowlands are still flooded, some bushes are trying to keep their head up in the shallow water. Hyacinth , unwanted floating weeds and algae grow aggressively made it green coloured contrary to the deep blue sky of autumn. New life formed and creeping on the shallow water, phytoplankton,zooplankton,parasites, symbiotic, all are being developed under the wave. Snakes, tadpoles, fish, grasshopper , snails, various insects started their day out. Life found the way. Hunting , fishing also take place , making it paradise for kingfisher and eregets , waiting motionless for prey. Biodiversity has been created in its own way.
The length of the day begins on the waning and the morning cold breeze coming from the north declares its approaching to enter into long winter . “If winter comes, can Spring be far behind”. From middle of the February, unrehearsed celebrations of chirping of birds and irregular breeze whispers the arrival of spring. Early spring, a heavy sky, chilly, but not bitter, maybe you can taste the salt in the air as now the wind has changed its direction, this time it starts to blow from south , nature at its very best.
The true grandeur however is to be discovered with the wide range of varieties of flora and fauna. To the exploring eye, the whole world of forms and colours is revealed beneath the green mantle of forest. The day breaks out with chirping of birds . Roaming into the woods , lush pasture and just looking at the vast horizon may be welcome change from your daily routine life. A brief isolation from bustling activities could pour solitude in the lap of nature abounds in beauty of its diversity.
Despite no major river flowing through this part of district it’s soil is in high degree of clay by nature and fertile for agriculture as the plains are lying on the lower basins of Subarnarekha river which is only 40 km away . Rice is the main item of crops produced two times in a year as other parts of the district and the farming is greatly dictated by the monsoonal rain. In early of June, farmers are seen to be engaged in the vast paddy field for preparing soil, sowing seeds from dawn to dusk. Most of the people depend on this for their livelihood throughout the year. Vegetables are also grown and used to sell in daily market and nearby markets. Modern equipments , fertilisers, pesticides are widely used for cultivation of rice and it is the main source of economic resources. It is not belonged to the flood prone or drought area but well drainage system and better irrigation facilities augmented production of rice significantly though sometimes unseasonal rain and untimely storms at harvesting time greatly hampered its production.
Apart from agriculture ,small cottage industries , handicrafts are another important source of rural economy in Bengal. Pottery is one of the oldest among them largely concentrated at Lakibarh. At Babla and Sohagpur, cottage industry , handlooms work like Sari, cotton towel manufactured. A section of people of kotbarh is also engaged in jewellery designing work.
Making furniture , various types of wooden works are another lucrative profession chosen by many. The talent and craftsmanship of carpenters and the jewellery designers are well appreciated outside. Two running sawmills at kotbarh creates some business opportunities for wood merchants related to this.
After day’s work, people love to gather at Sauri bazaar that create enormous hype in the evening. Playing cards is one of the favourite pass time for some people. Hangouts occur in different places in the market ,gossiping, backbiting, Talk session, debating on politics, movies, sports all are happened. In this session, some big ideas are born and buried instantly which are never be written.
It is very difficult to assume the exact time of settlement grown here at Sauri. History can help you a little bit to get an idea. Dating back to first half of sixteenth century, Bhakti movement pioneered by Chaityanadev under the ruler Hussain Shah was erupted all over Bengal, spreading the message of eternal love and brotherhood with his unique way organising Nagar Kirtan singing the repetition of Krishna’s name. It’s socio religious impact was huge. The movement started with the aim of reformation of Hinduism. The openness and broad mindedness of the movement brought everyone together to participate irrespective of different religions, caste and creed. It is to be believed that Chaitynadev made his footfall at Sauri while passing through Kapsa Bundh near Gopalpur on his way to Puri.
The followers love to think about him as the incarnation of God Srikrishna , the supreme lord, avatar of Vishnu in Vaishnabhism, the largest form of Hinduism. This form of Hinduism is very popular among the inhabitants. Many Ashrams, shrines, are set up at various locations at Patpur and Kotbarh along with temples for the devotees. The original inhabitants of Sauri are Hindus. All types of rituals, custom are observed by worshiping deities, offering prayers at home and temple in numerous occasions and practiced in their daily life. The idols and images of sacred Hindu god and goddess are adorned in every household . Tribals are another important component of inhabitants from very early at Sauri. At Lakibarh, Lodha and Shabar, two another group of tribe added a bit to the composite culture.
Their presence reveals with different dialect spoken, dresses and ornaments that women folks wear. In the field of education and sports, their overwhelming participation and success definitely bring them on the road of transition but without loosing its own great and proud identity which is exposed to their various dazzling cultural events carrying through the oldest cultural heritage of India.
Children on the way to school provide one of the happiest sight at Sauri. Government spends only 2% of its budgets on this crucial item. But it happened to be significantly low of school dropouts as the awareness among the people about education is high. Consciousness about Primary education to be given to the children is always urged for a special urgency that is distinctly present among the parents . In this outlook, once , many teachers had played crucial part to laid the foundations of basic education coming forward to build up schools and libraries in this village.
Sauri Bholanath Vidyamandir, the oldest school of Sauri . In the 60’s, the school was shaped up with mud wall and tin roof, class rooms and boys hostel under the same roof and corridor stretching long, hold by series of wooden pillars , uneven muddy floor with enormous playground in front of . A piece of railway track was hanging and used to beat by another iron rod in between every class period and its reverberations was reached in every corner of the village. The striking part of the track was decaying but more shining compared to the other part.
This school had something to be proud of producing some scholars in spite of poor facilities and infrastructure. But great deal of efforts by some eminent faculties made it possible to come to the forefront when a boy with rare talent coming from poor family ranked 2nd position in School Final Examination in 1969. Later this school grown prodigy devoted himself on research work in Astrophysics and made significant contribution in this field , Narayan Chandra Rana, the scientist , became successful measuring the diameter of Sun and his various research papers based upon this and books written on Classical Mechanics were also well appreciated outside India. His scientific mind was instigated and cultivated by a “Beautiful Mind” , a teacher, philosopher and guide , Manindranarayan Lahiri.
A dhoti clad , tall , slender man with thick black frame optic glasses came to Sauri to join as a science teacher in the 60’s when our society was gripped in superstition, untouchability and many other ostracism. To get rid of these all social evils , spreading scientific knowledge was the need of the hour. He was allotted a 10’ by 10’ thatched room in this school building.The room was filled with heaps of books mostly on science and optical instruments which were used to build telescope that he had designed in his own way.
Thomas Edition may have invented the “Bright” Idea to brightening the darkness using the energy of charged particles long long ago but this little hamlet plunged into darkness as the sun goes down till early decade of 90’s and another part of the day began with the blown of conch shell pierced the air to ward off evil. The yellowish scattering light of kerosene oil lamp tried to drive away the darkness and it illuminated enough to be visible the printing letter of the book nearer to it and gradually fainted as the last lines approached.
But all specks of amber light in the village were gone off only after first quarter of night as the villagers chose to have their suppers early except one that coming from a room of the school building where this man always engrossed with reading, writing with his favourite fountain pen, dark blue ink against the lighter white paper sheet and preparing his telescope with some enthusiastic students and his disciples. All celestial objects of night sky which were hidden behind the dazzling brought daylight now appear in full bright. Not only students but many people also used to come to see the planets, satellites, stars through his telescope. The mystery of the universe, it’s vastness, how all celestial objects, galaxies, stars ,planets obey the basic fundamental principles of science that unfolded slowly to them and drive out the darkness from their mind and enlightened them in the dark.
Bat , Owl, Tit , Rat all come out for their night out, howling of jackals, calling of nighthawk , roaring of wild animals and their whisper floating in the air harrowing the silence and declare to get into dead of the night . All stars, planets changing its position slowly and start to fade away from the sky as the Eastern horizon appears to glow. The birds are chirping, another day begins, with hope and despair.
N.B. – The data and incidence given in this article may differ and so may be changed. This is purely written from writer’s point of view and his own perception.
Dipnarayan Maity, A fresh blood in classical essay writing.Government employee, ex Motijheel College Physics (Hons) student. He is a close friend of IBG NEWS Chief Editor. Upon receiving the friend’s request, this master craftsman with pen and paper inked few lines on nostalgic nineties of India. A documentary of time with personal journey through it. He shares a wide knowledge and interest in multi discipline and subjects right from science to sociology to art. Traveling photography and music his passion for life.