This was one of the last poems written by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Bard of Bengal, Kabiguru, Bishwakabi: world knows him by many names. He reveled in life with the curiosity and wonderment of a child. In the Preface of Gitanjali (1912), Collection of poems which made him the first non-European to receive the Nobel in Literature, W. B. Yeats says, “Pearl fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.” This was for Tagore as much as the children. Poet, musician, novelist, painter, educator, freedom fighter, rationalist, modernist: the world was his canvas. Continue reading “He Spoke the Language of the Rivers: Rabindranath Tagore”
“Titash is a river’s name. Those living beside the river hardly know the etymological source of its name. They never tried to find out, they never felt any need to. There are rivers with significant names like Madhumati, Brahmaputra, Padma, Saraswati, Jamuna. And this one is called Titash!
No one will find its meaning in the dictionary. But is there any proof that the river might have been dearer to its people if it had a more literate, meaningful name? If a girl named Kajal-Lata is grandly renamed Baidurya Malini, her playmates will not be happy.”
“All the paths from the yards of Malo homes take them to the water of Titash. These are short paths. So short that a baby’s cry at one end can be heard by its mother at the other end. The pitter-patter of adolescent girl’s heart can be heard by the youth in their boats in the river. The only long road for them lies in the river’s midstream and it carries only boats.”
~ Titash Ekti Nadir Naam, Adwaita Mallabarman, 1956[i] Continue reading “Titash Ekti Nadir Naam: Swan Song of a River”
“The banks of my pleasant Ichhamati are dotted with tiny villages, wild flowers, green trees and bird nests. In the past five hundred years, so many fishermen have cast their nets in the river, so many houses have been built, so many babies came in the arms of their mothers to take a dip in the river and then in the old age found their last bed near the cool waters of the river. I can visualise the countless who have approached this peaceful river bank through centuries. I shall write a story of about all this. This story shall be called Ichhamati.”
~ Diaries of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Circa 1940s Continue reading “Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Ichhamati: River of Epiphanies”
On 10th April 2018 around 500 fishers assembled at Majhdia, a town bordering Bangladesh in the district of Nadia (W Bengal), to publicly voice their protest against killing of rivers Mathabhanga and Churni. Majhdia town reverberated with the slogan Save River, Save Fish, Save Fisher People! Continue reading “Fisher-people lead Save Mathabhanga & Churni River Campaign in W Bengal”
Above: A local fisherman fishing upstream of the barrage (Photo: Gauri Noolkar-Oak)
Guest Blog by Gauri Noolkar-Oak
Few journeys take us through a string of experiences that nourish the senses and the soul. A thoroughbred urban, city-lover, I nevertheless knew deep down that my journey of such nourishment would be with a river. I began researching rivers by chance, but with time, I grew to first like and then worship the entity. In early 2017, I acquired a grant from the Joke Waller-Hunter Initiative to study water conflicts in the Teesta basin, and I knew: this was going to be it.
My journey was inspired by the book “Empires of the Indus” written by Alice Albania, a brave woman who travelled the Indus river from mouth to source, and explored her history and cultures. But beyond that, I hardly had a plan; I did not know how long the journey would take, whether I would be able to see the whole river, and when I would return home. When I landed in Dhaka at the end of April this year, all I knew was that I wanted to see the Teesta right from her confluence with the Brahmaputra River in Bangladesh all the way up to her source at Tso Lamo in Sikkim, on the Indo-China border. Continue reading “Retracing Her Path 1: A Journey along the Teesta River in Bangladesh”