The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.

Biswanath Bhattacharya

May 23, 2023, 11:21:05   

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.

Christian Tilla - Village Kalamchoura- Police Station Boxnagar 
My fathers and my uncles migrated to Chattian tilla at Kalamchoura village from East Pakistan. I will not question the sagacity of their wisdom But in 1959 Chattian Tilla was God-forsaken a place with no amenities whatsoever. It was a pure jungle and in its close proximity was Adampur village fully inhabited by very loyal Muslims. 

We had left behind in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, almost 1000 acres of all cultivable lands, three large tanks, and in their exchange, we got only 400 acres of semi-cultivable land and a huge garden of all Jack fruit trees . The number of the jack fruits trees must have been around 2500. We had some Blackberry trees also. 

The whole land was left under the custody of my elder uncle. Since he had no employment whatsoever and he had not the bent of mind to earn his livelihood from those land, he started selling off the land and the Jackfruit  trees  at throwaway price. And so was the amazing unity between my uncles and father nobody ever said anything to my elder uncle. Nor even the children of my eldest uncle who was dead by this time. My father and his brother were groomed like that only. Never to question but to comply with the orders of the elders. And my grandmother( we fondly called her  Didi) the Queen Victoria reigned supreme. 

In a way, my elder uncle was also not to be blamed at all. At East Pakistan, he was Zamindar, and his standard of living was like that of Zamindar only. Coming at Chhatian Tilla he found that he did not possess any luxuries of life. A living being is finished as soon as there is nothing to possess. Therefore, a living being cannot be, in the real sense of the term, a renouncer. A living being renounces something for gaining something more valuable. A student sacrifices his childish proclivities to gain a better education. A servant gives up his job for a better job. And therefore, it was easy for him to sell out everything he possessed. 
My Didi  was extremely intelligent. She saw that we would be going pauper if this way of disposal of lands continued further. In the meantime, my uncle also procured employment. 

Didi took control of the situation, gave the remainder of the cultivable land in Barga, and sold the produce of the Jackfruit trees at some reasonable rate. And I was her sole companion. 

It was 1972 or so, there was no motorable road to Chhatian tilla from Sonamura, we used to walk on foot braving all inclemency. Almost 18 Kilometres at a stretch She was moreover barefoot. Not a glass of drinking water even on the way . Brahmin widows never touch anything on the way.  A widow of that era never used shoes or sandals also . 

My Didi  was more than 70 by then. The path was also infested with robbers coming from Bangladesh. One portion named Galachipa ( where people were strangulated for money ) was a dreaded place. We somehow hurriedly passed this narrow passage. 

My elder uncle had built a type of forest dak bungalow of all wood. The wooden structure was laid on Shal pillars. It was very comfortable. 
My duty was to go to the farmers in the morning and collect the paddy. Not a very easy job. They were bent on deceiving us. They appeared weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak. Oh, what a tangled web they weaved when they practiced deceiving. Someone who smiles too much with you can sometime frown too much with you at your back and they were never without a smile.

Another duty was to draw water from the ring well beneath the tile. I was then 22 or 23. I had an excellent physique. We could have engaged a labour, but this drawing of water might be an alternative to physical exercise, I drew water from the ring well which was almost 100 feet below. I did not feel exertion at all. After drawing of the water, I perspired a lot and my Didi  wiped away the perspiration with a water-soaked Gamosa. 

There was no electricity, only hurricane lamps. While coming from Sonamura, I used to come with a rucksack full of books. 

I read Rabindranath extensively during my stay at Chhatian Tilla. The most fascinating was the treatise of Dr. Khudiram Bose , Amitava Choudhury, Pramathanath Bishi, and Pravat Mukhopadhyay on Rabindranath and invariably the Galpa Guccha by Rabindranath 

Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories are a perfect depiction of Indian society, set in the time of British rule. Of course, he typically kept the plot and storyline confined within the geographical and cultural boundary of Bengal. But what cuts across the cultural reference is the emotions of women in each of his short stories.
His writings focus on society’s expectations of women, a woman’s boundless love, and her turmoil. While reading through Tagore’s short stories, you realize women’s powerless position and their ignorance levels burdened as a primary caretaker of their households. 

I think Rabindranath’s Story stories are better than Guy de Maupassant or Chekov . Now also I read the poems and Short stories of Rabindranath. 
I generally used to read at dusk and by nigh of 11 I used to fall asleep listening to the chirping  of the crickets. . My Didi also told number of her anecdotes. When my Didi used to say “Joytara” I could definitely know that she would be asleep very soon. Joytara was the name of the grandmother of my father and her  mother-in-law. 

Since Chhatian Tilla was almost jungle, there used to be worshipping of Tiger God. I also used to participate in it. We used to roam from one corner of the tilla to the other corner singing songs and worshipping the tiger God.

Gazing in the forest was also my favorite pastime. If there’s one place, we go to above all others when we need to relax it’s the forest. You could say we were lovers of forest bathing before that was even a thing! 
Walking between old trees is almost meditative and something we try to do at least once a week. It’s pretty much the antidote to stress, and we always come out happier than we went in. And our woods were lovely , dark and deep.

We all have many moments in life that are unforgettable. These moments always keep us heart-warming. It’s true that money can buy anything these days but not the memories. We all keep on collecting these beautiful and unforgettable moments throughout our life so that these can be treasured forever in our hearts.

Whenever I think of these unforgettable moments, a smile comes to my face automatically. Like when a smile comes to your face on a horrible day of yours it becomes an unforgett