I was at my wits end when I discovered this ‘nao’ (boat) at the banks of Kopai somewhere around Santiniketan on a wild trip on my motorbike along odd tracks beside the rather docile river. My trips along Kopai are undertaken when I do not like to be engaged in any specific work, simply speed away from the crowd and locality, choose a rather desolate spot beside the trickling river. Finding a boat was a big surprise to me, I started day dreaming about trade on water ways between several Jamindari’s, lovely women sitting at the deck or even the boatman singing songs…..
Well, to this date I still keep looking for the boat, but never came across it again!
With every small twist and turn, like all other rivers, the rather unknown Kopai naturally ekes out its own story in this part of the world. I reckon, every river, with its flow of time- sometimes trickling and once in a while overwhelming, manages to create its own kind of symphony.
However, personally I prefer to be a mute spectator, but naturally enjoying the symphony of life at the banks of Kopai.
The landscape is undergoing a rapid change along the bitumen road through Goalpara at the banks of Kopai. The area where the ladies had once crossed the river carrying cropped paddy, has now become inaccessible to them, thanks to fencing by private property owners along the banks at that place. But generally speaking life around Kopai is still very much a laid back affair; where time invariably slows down with a great relativistic flavour.
At times images can be mesmerizing, or fantastically refreshing. I can intensely enjoy the deserved rest for me at the banks of Kopai after a hectic week. Moreover with kilometers of silence around, I can always feel to be nicely on my own, poised cozily at my own self. I know desperately well how luxurious can that event be –‘belong to one’s own self’. Literally speaking, at certain points at the banks, usually navigable with a bit of maneuvering in a motorbike, one can afford to carry ‘kilometers of silence’ along with him. Santiniketan certainly has some incredible plus points if one is sensitive to them.
Peoplescape around Kopai is interesting too. All sorts of activities take place. I was really impressed and quite influenced by the team effort of a family to cross the river with a lady in crutches with her polio infected leg. Hail the indomitable spirit of life. Moreover they beamed wide with smiles at my effort to photograph them.
Fishing activities is always an interesting feature of any river large or small. Considering the usual tricklish nature of Kopai, the availability of fair amount of fishes is really a wonder. Ofcourse fishing is a seasonal activity, spanning mainly from late months of the rainy season right up to the fag end of winter.
Various modes of fishing can be fairly interesting photographically; add to that a chance to buy fish right at the spot in a much reduced price- it is really a good choice to track the fishermen folk of river Kopai with a camera and a poly-pack to carry the freshly caught fish back home!
Now, it is not only the fishes which can invite kids and grand dads to Kopai. Snail, crab and probably other such edible items are efficiently caught by hand. In essence Kopai remains quite a veritable food supply store for the nearby village folks!
Some snaps can almost be the picture perfects. It is a great joy to feel that along a river, we tend to forget the several imperfections of life so easily that memories turn out to be near perfect ones. I have so many pleasant memories, picture perfect images of Kopai that just a mention of that river immediately tranquilizes all me senses into a wonderful bliss. One can still afford to be happy at no cost whatsoever.
Some characters do make Kopai interesting. They were actually a Kala Bhavana boy & a girl on a outdoor water colour mode. It was interesting to watch them. They first chose a spot, and then meticulously placed a plastic sheet to protect them from the wet soil and probably also from the irritating red ants, brought out all their accessories in a very organized manner and started painting. Well, the younger generations seems to be a pretty organized lot these days.
Yes, the images at times get deeply mesmerized into the deepest mind space, I often feel they belonged to me from ages beyond my comprehension. How, badly I miss the annual Patha Bhavana picnic at the banks of Kopia at Shealah- a practice now abandoned by Patha Bhavana for fear of safety of students. Now, Patha Bhavana arranges its picnics within a small fenced mangrove at Sriniketan- how devastatingly boring the life of students of my school has turned now!
The concluding snap is of Ratna, my year-mate in Siksha Bhavana. Do you think she was my ex-girl friend, or maybe just a friend to phrase it more diplomatically? Well, you are going to be disappointed to a great extent. The real story is while Ratna was at Botany Dept and I at Physics, we never even once spoke to each other in our college days; though Ratna was a fairly visible girl in our times with her heroine like looks. After exactly 34 years, when she landed up here along with her batch-mates, the all ladies gang simply hijacked me from my office and ultimately we landed up at the banks of Kopai, talking incessantly as we all felt that great bond of friendship, even the unspoken ones, forged at Santiniketan ages back. It was great feelings for all of us, getting to know each other, ladies with whom I never spoke before, singing songs, tasting the ‘Khejur Rasa’ and listening to birds at the banks of Kopai.
This certainly is the real flavor of river Kopai- the mesmerizing bond of unspoken friendship.