Has it ever occurred to you? That how the “only” country with six majestic seasons has changed into a three seasoned land, how she has lost her beauty and virginity. She has become a mere example – one that holds a past of beautiful tales of splendor, splendor which is now lost to us.
Our childhood passed hearing stories, reading books and famous poetic versification of the six seasons of our country, of how the summer scorched the land, the monsoon quenched our thirsts, the dreary autumns and the frosty winter left a waking void. Spring came after, breathing new life into the dead trees and our numb bodies. The aged members of our society simply moan over of how it all has changed and feel sorry for their descendants. It’s really harsh that we are seeing a Bangladesh who has lost her true beatific serenity and has recurred up a distorted façade.
I clearly recall the days of when I was in Class 1 or 2. I used to memorize those poems in our native tongue, reading the stories and glories of the seasons, of the true facts that made this land an eye-candy to those many who love nature and the beauty she holds. I even remember how I came back home from school and chatted with my dad about the poems I’d read. I was proud to be part of a country of such natural diversity..
The six seasons of our country: Summer (Grissha), Rainy Season (Borsha), Autumn (Shoroth), Late Autumn (Hemonto), Winter (Sheet), Boshonto (Spring); each with her distinctive splendor that prettied this land with a new beauty every two months and then. Those childhood extracts that I read, still found in many textbooks of Class 1 and 2, used to describe the seasons like this:
Summer greeted the land from the mid of April to the end of June (Boishakh-Jyoishtho). The first day of Boishakh also marks the Bengali New Year where everyone celebrates it by eating Hilsha fish with Panta Bhat (boiled rice soaked in water). Small melas (fairs) are organized in every local place and people gather in the festivity. The most loved fruits of the lands ripen in Grissha- like mango, watermelons, jackfruits, blackberries and such.
The sweet syrup of nature in these luscious fruits serves as a savior in the burning hot summer days.Grissha starts slow, warming the climate bit by bit. It lands with full force bringing forth the heat wave everyone expects like a hated relative. With it blows a breeze that prickles your skin and leaves your mouth dusty. The rivers dry out and are difficult to navigate. And after the heat wave has gone, rain comes riding in with thunder storms and sometimes, icy lumps of hail. This calamity of Grissha also damages homes and crop fields. Many curse the season to be a carrier of bad omens.
Rainy Season (Borsha)
The Rainy season starts off with the clear skies getting dark and being covered up with thick black clouds that bring premonition of heavy rains. The Rainy Season comes for the two months of July and August (Aashar-Srabon); a period of lashing rains and tearing winds.
The dried up rivers, canals and lakes get refilled by the rain; and with that, 70 percent of all land goes under water. The rains are at first a welcome relief from the blistering, dusty hot season. But as the rains continue, the land turns into a brown and watery mass, ever-changing in shape and texture. Fields and homes are flooded; people and animals have to move to higher ground. Food is reduced to pre-cooked rice, dal and jackfruit at this time. During the rains, most villages become isolated, accessible only by boat. It is during the rainy season that Bangladesh’s main crop, jute, begins to ripen and is harvested.
As September begins, the skies are blue and a cool wind blows; the humming of Autumn arriving for September and October (Bhadro-Asshhin). The land turns into a carpet of bright green rice shoots while the smell of drying jute invades the air. Flowers bloom, the rice ripens and the harvest begins. Blue, gold and green are the colours of Shoroth (Autumn) – blue sky, golden sun and green vegetation from emerald to jade, pea to lime, shamrock to sea-green and such. In the green fields, white Siberian Cranes, Egrets and ducks hunt for food. The air is a mixture of cool and humid in the day, and the sailors sail their boats with the help of the breeze that blows. The clouds in the sky fly away; to an undetermined destination.
Late Autumn (Hemonto)
The humidity starts ware off more as Late Autumn arrives in November and December (Kartik-Agrhayon).The season of harvesting as it is known; festivals flourish to hail the harvest, the end of the floods, the coming of the new soil and the wonder of the rivers. As it is also the time to replant in new, fertile soil that is rich in nutrients. The local jongleurs and minstrels are everywhere, dressed in bright clothes and singing for money. The land and its people come to life during hemanto, when the flowers bloom – jasmine, water lily, rose, magnolia, hibiscus and bougainvillea. By the season’s end, the air is no longer humid. Fresh scents replace the dry and pungent smell of the rotting jute.
The chills start from early December, and Winter comes for the whole of December and to the end of January (Poush-Magh). Dews moisten the arid land and everything becomes foggy and cold. Warm clothes are pulled out in Winter; it is the season when juice is collected from the date trees. The juicy syrup is cooked to make thick gur (a form of sweetener) which is used to make varities of pithas (pies and cakes). The chilly morning begin with a mouthful of such delicasies in the Winter, when the temperature can do down to 10 degrees Celsius at times.
Spring arrives from February to March (Falgun-Choitro) where the days are golden with light, the foliage revives, and the nights and early mornings are chilly. During Boshonto, life comes with thousands of colors, adorning the simple country days or complex city moments; the countryside hums with fairs, parades and commemorations. Arts festivals celebrate painting and handicrafts, poetry, music and drama. At every footstep, thriving flora and the true colors of nature unveil. The world around does not seem to be dull or mundane anymore. The climate around is a parade of the new – new blooming flowers and leaves – and the air redresses itself with a sweet smell …
Outro and the present:
The past is left as a fairytale to say. Today the six seasons are no longer there; instead Bangladesh is just a three-seasoned country – summer, rainy and winter. The summers are prolonged and the temperature shoots up to 40°C with typical droughts occurring in the rural areas. Lifestyles have changed, and they are no longer as enjoyable as before.
The climate has made each day a struggle to survive for yet another day that’ll arrive tomorrow. Infrequent and untimely rains create flooding, destroying the crops and washing away homes and land. The winter comes like a guest and leaves us without any real chills.
I regret that I could not enjoy or get to see the change of seasons that made this country so unique back then. What I am seeing is a mutated vista of a drastically changed ambiance of Bangladesh. The developed areas of this globe have helped in the bereavement of this beauty and not only that, we are to blame too. Our rapid development, the unstoppable and escalating pollution, the global warming has raped Bangladesh of her seasons. She is now just a silent effigy who can’t even cry out loud of how hurt she is.
What makes me feel sadder is that the future generations will see a more mangled version of today’s already-mutated-climate..! It is a cruel death of seasons and we can only reminisce those days like Emily Dickinson said:
Conjecturing a Climate
Of unsuspended Suns –
Adds poignancy to Winter –
The Shivering Fancy turns
To a fictitious Country
To palliate a Cold –
Not obviated of Degree –
Nor erased — of Latitude –