I had just finished packing for a trip I was planning. T’s, shorts, towel, brush, chargers, medicines and sunglasses. It was all done and felt good. I glanced over at the clock and it was little past midnight. I had to head out in just four hours. Sleeping was never an option when it had come to this place.
The first ever article I posted on this blog was based upon some of the very firsts experiences I had had by traveling to this beach, Bakkhali. At that moment, I knew whatever I had gotten in my head for the place was going to be looking good on paper. So much so that when I re-read it now, the primordial emotions toward the place feel reincarnated once again. Ebb tides, diseased sea, heavy breeze, grey beach, red meadows, promiscuous shrubs, miles of salt ceders scattered about some mediocre woods, high tides, and home to hundreds of wildlife including us, the humans, guarded by the lady as well as the guardian spirit of the forests, Dhamra Ma or Banbibi.
People out in Sundarbans worship her in order to survive the tiger attacks in woods. It is believed that the demon king, Dakkhin Rai , an arch-enemy of Banbibi actually appears in the disguise of a tiger and attacks human beings especially the honey-collectors and the woodcutters. Albeit there has been no known tiger attack in Bakkhali for decades, some villagers still name their stores after her while some tag chips of bricks around her temple in order to be safe from all the harm.
As the time dwindled gradually in my train, urgency grew on and it was time to come down out and head back to the place I had been knowing and loving for so long. The bus stop came filled with people grazing and checking on time, cars, candies and the sky!! It would have been quite a sight if the day wasn’t surrounded and scorched by heat from the sun. But July had it’s own majesty and had taken on a life of its own, I guess.
I knew I would be encountering volumes of people and drivers at the stop but turned out not all of them wanted to slit my throat for the ride and money. So I booked a van and headed out on the road toward the “end of the earth”. If you live or have been in the eastern part of Canada, United States, Mexico or the southern part of Iceland, you know what it means to be living in the end or edge of the earth. Shut in by nothing but endless ocean. Where water trails through anything and everything your eyes can perceive. Where there’s no temple in between the vastness of water to keep you safe from the harm.
As i headed into 7 miles (a small village near Bakkhali), I saw images of massive wind turbines breathing through the air and dying off of exertion and rust… But I also had the visions of salt ceders, moderate forests, and fishing trawlers upon the deep rivers and sea waiting for their time to hunt when the sea settles down. And all those images did come into play as I entered in Bakkhali.
It’s a bit strange and quite different what I had had in mind from previous experiences. The forests were all dried up and sandy. A layer of grey dust and sand filled the air with scorching heat directed from the sun. People were banging loud music on the beach. A mess. A way bigger mess than what I had anticipated. Hotels were flooded with people and bazillion cars bellowing out vast amounts of toxic fumes, dust and noises. An absolute nightmare…!!
I reached my destination. A rehabilitation of an old haggard house divided into condos two minutes away from the bay. A picture perfect lawn crammed with grass. A pond overflowed with moss, bushes and meadows scattered around the ground and swayed among gingerbread homes up ahead in the distance shut in by salt ceders, mangroves and date palms. No longer the salty planet floor. No longer the toxic fumes. Just the sound of the ocean afar winding through my ears.
This segment of Bakkhali was believed to be filled with cobras, vipers, kraits and rat snakes. Their lives and spirits were believed by the natives to be divine. So for the most part, they had always been left alone and relied on.
I was living in a little refuge away from all the noises immersed in my thoughts. Having unending trail through diverse wildlife moving in silence and secrecy where sand met the water. They were abundant and abandoned, leaving nothing but a constant hum, a constant chirp in the breeze. Being able to feel them was something that can’t be taught. The symbolism, it was all perceived and earned. They were hard on the surface but they were susceptible to wind through some of the most beautiful and arcane emotions in the universe.
Afternoon again. I found myself on an orange stratum walking up to the west toward the sunset. It was static. Some 1.5 miles away from the hotel I was staying. This segment of the sea was dying, leaving its tail in the north-west and deluging to the south-east. But the land comprised a life of its own. all torn up and paved over. Independent from the ocean’s machinations with shrubs and meadows varicolored its floor. Here, the the air was abuzz with birds and crickets. They were, perhaps, building a new home among the crowd of ceders and newborn meadows.
The evening caught up with my retreat. The high tide poured in on the dry sand with ceders breathing in the gusty winds and shuddering under a lymphatic moon. A gateway to another realm. On my way back, some half a mile away from the main beach, I smelled in a strong scent drawing from a sacred incense next to a burial right on the beach. As improper and awe-inspiring as it should have been, I knew very well it was indeed the gateway to another realm.
The realm of Dhamra Ma.
Who was keeping me safe from all the harm….