I, a tired soul, around me, life’s turbulent, foaming ocean,
Finally found some bliss with Natore’s Banalata Sen.
(Translated by Fakrul Alam)
It was 7.30 pm and my Rajshahi-bound air-conditioned bus had just dropped me off at Natore city. This was my dream city as it is the city of Banalata Sen, the intriguing character created by one of my favourite Bengali poets, Jibanananda Das. I was happy to be there.
It was the middle of the Bengali month Magh. I think the temperature was 15 or 16 degrees Celsius. I felt very cold and the night was also foggy. It was the best time for a steaming cup of tea. Mukter Hossain, our Mukter Bhai, the Natore correspondent of Prothom Alo and a long-time colleague, was waiting for me at the Harishpur highway area. We embraced each other in a bear hug as we were seeing each other after a long time.
That night I was relaxed because there was no hurry. How was that possible? No pressure making a news list, copy editing, page design or any strategic decisions. No barrage of phone calls and giving them solutions! What a blessed night God had gifted me!
It was a tea with ginger, lemon, and black cumin and cost 10 taka a cup. When we were having tea, the Deputy Commissioner of Natore, Shamim Ahmed, called Mukter bhai to ask about his guest! I met him the very next day, a very responsible and generous person. A former English department student at the University of Dhaka, Shamim Ahmed is a popular personality there, readily available for social and cultural activities and appreciated for meaningful speeches.
Dighapatia Palace is an integral part of our history. We should take all measures to protect this majestic palace
Visiting a new place is not just about taking pictures and eating your favorite dishes. It is very important to look around the area deeply, its people, activities, and issues. And attune their emotions as much as you can.
So we went to Uttara Gono Bhaban, formerly known as Dighapatia Palace. It was an amazing experience to see a historical palace in light of the full moon. The palace was built by Raja Doyaram in the year of 1734. Doyaram was the Dewan (minister) of Rani Bhabhani. There was a round clock at the front gate with a large bell and a clock room. The clock was imported from Italy.
It also has a beautiful garden full of various local and foreign trees. One of the trees called Parijat, aged a hundred years, locals think. The beauty and the fresh smell of flowers mesmerized me.
Dighapatia Palace is an integral part of our history. We should take all measures to protect this majestic palace.
It was just 10.30pm when we returned back from there and I was in no hurry! And the city of Natore was not sleeping either. The main restaurants were open. We went Islamia Pochur Hotel for dinner. I must thank them for serving fresh fish items. The cooking was delicious. At that time, a large number of customers were coming to that hotel for dinner and the nightlife was in full swing.
I went to Natore as a guest of the Shikho-Prothom Alo GPA-5 reception event arranged by the Prothom Alo. The event was impressive with thousands of participants -- students, guardians and teachers, coming from the adjacent areas of Chalon Bil. I met a number of educationalists, social and cultural activists there. Subidh Kumar Moitra, popularly known as Alok Sir was among them. He was a retired professor from Rajshahi College. But he has not retired from social work. As a local representative of Bishwa Sahitya Kendra, Alok Sir leads the library and reading movement there. His close associate is Razzak sir, a retired principal of Dhighapatia College in Natore district.
Mr. Razzak, an illustrious face in Natore, engages in all social and cultural activities with enormous devotion. And I must mention another superman, Abdus Salam, an agro-business entrepreneur. He is the founder of Lathi-Banshi (stick-whistle) Samity, The association was formed on 12 November 1999 with a view to resisting crime and extortion. Because of his brave and relentless activities, now Natore is almost free of terrorism and extortion. This association is of great importance. There really is no alternative to people’s unity.
I also should thank the Natore Bondhushava, consisting of a group of young people whose selfless work and efforts pleased me. I will never forget those young faces in my life.
The ginger tea at Harishpur, the Natore Circuit House, Dighapatia Palace, Islamia Pochur Hotel, Alok Sir, Razzak sir, Salam Bhai and our Mukter Bhai, Prothom Alo Bondhushava- my heartfelt love to you all. Thanks, Natore, for giving me a forty hours happiness.
* Kazi Alim-uz-zaman is Deputy News Editor, Prothom Alo. He can be reached via [email protected]