Just before the train arrived, I switched off all my digital connecting device. Not because I do not want to be connected with the outside world, but I was feeling connected with the red soil, with the green fields, with the blue hills.

The day we arrived here, Purulia was under the overcast sky. You can still see the hills from the rail station itself. The hills are like inverted parabola. Most of them are dwarf, some of them dare to touch the cloud. Beneath the hills, it was an endless green field. You stretch your eyes from left to right, one horizon to another, you can see those opaque blue hills standing like the giants, protecting the greens. These enormous fields are ploughed by the dark monstrous buffalos. However, the owner of those buffalos are not those young stone carved Santals what you have read and imagined from the book Aranyak of that great author. These farmers could not withstand the taste of time. I saw the farmers returning home withwhite hairs, head crooked, the enormous iron made umbrella hanging from the soldiers, thin red towel with hundred holes, bare feet, and the sluggish movement with the cattle. All these signs depicted the old age, the daily turmoil and the poverty they have faced for all those years.

The mask makers of Charida makes masks for all the festivals, especially for Chow dancing. The base of the mask is made of thick papers and gums. All the masks are colorful. The mask makers find inspirations of those colors from their oblivious, ancestral living in jungle, at the heart of the mother nature.  The Chow dancers perform dancing during the festivals wearing these masks. The mask makers make masks of God, masks of Satan, masks of different animals, masks of imaginative animals. Mask of human is rare. Humans wear those masks to become the impossible, a partial fulfilment of their secret desires of becoming God, becoming Satan. Most of the time the God wins against the Satan. The dancers create an illumination of a perfect world, where God always wins against Satan.

Right now, they not only make masks for festivals, but they also create the God itself by clay and bare hands. During the season of Pujas, they make idols of different gods and goddess. While we went there, it was the season for Manasa puja and Durga puja. They were creating the idols. This time, they stopped creating the big masks and stay with the smaller masks. Small size mask is good for selling to the tourists.

The village of Banduti is where our ancestors live. The people there are living in more community basis than any modern society. Most of the people could not speak in our tongue, but the smile stays on their face for eternity. A red road divides the village at two. Beside the road, they build houses with mud. However, looking at those houses, you would not believe that those are made of muds. The mud houses are colorful, and some are decorated with pieces of glasses. Most of the houses have an extension of the wall three feet above the ground. People spent their afternoons and evenings sitting on that extension and telling stories. The red road ends to the green field. The villagers use the ancient techniques to plough their field. The point of the wooden plough is made by iron, and the plough is drawn by bullocks. No people from the village Banduti wear shoes. I asked them that they have shoes or not. They said yes but they do not wear shoes. Probably they want to be connected to the Mother Nature by touching the soil in barefoot.

I could not forget the late afternoon silence of the forest beneath Pakhi Pahar (Hill of the birds). The entire hill is painted with images of birds. The jungle of Pakhi Pahar is home for thousands of birds. Just before the jungle starts, the

grassland will lure your mind for a while to sit there and forget about the external world. Before the day ends, the sky turned steel black. After a while, it started raining. I have seen a person coming out from the cloud on the dark road, and the white flowers near the road were trembling by the sudden splash of rain.


Leave a Reply