Imagine a place where you could roam freely, discover new trails every single day, catch a fish, eat wild fruits, and roll in the mud without any care. My Anai’s (maternal grandmother) village was my fairyland growing up and continues to be among my favourite places to visit even now. The name of the village is “Bengmuria Konwar Gaon” near Simaluguri in Sivasagar district. My Dueta (father) never took us on any fancy holidays, and this small, typical Assamese village was my holiday heaven. I used to count the days until the end of school so that I could visit this wonderland. A day starts with a gentle pat from Anai (maternal grandmother) who would wake me up and invite for the traditional morning tea. The last memory that I have recollected was from Autumn 2017 when I visited Assam.
The morning tea is usually a cup of laal saah (red tea) accompanied by pitha, a homemade snack made of rice flour. Anai prepares them under an extended shack in the backyard where a kettle and a sauce-pan are always in a ready-to-serve mode for the entire day. In the middle of their respective chores, everyone would come back for another cup on a break.
There is an innocent affection among the owners, their cattle, crops and the entire surrounding. They milk the cows and release them for grazing by morning. Also, the lady of the house sieves rice, the primary cultivation of the state, to serve her family and guests for the day.
River Towla has blessed the livelihood, and it has encouraged its people to indulge in fishing. My mama (uncle) loves casting, and that’s one of his favourite hobbies apart from music and organic farming. He solely dedicates his weekends and other holidays to these activities, and I love accompanying him. Consequently, it is lively and fruitful, always, and moreover, you get to savour a delightful meal.
Weaving is an integral part of the society, and in every house, they have their own Taat xhaal (traditional weaving machine). The women believe that weaving is a graceful way of bringing their dreams to life, and they call it the best form of meditation too. Indeed, and I know it from Maa and Aita (paternal grandma) back in my home. I have seen their dedication and concentration while weaving Gamusa (traditional piece of cloth) just before Rongali Bihu. It is about moulding love into the fabric and spreading it by gifting the beloved ones.
Another unique thing is a Dheki, an agricultural tool used for threshing rice. Yes, we get to eat pitha because of a dheki (an electric grinder does not even come into comparison).
I often lose track of time while I roam around to enjoy the scenery and meet people many of whom are my relatives. Strolling down the trails and exploring new ones is my favourite part. I remember when the old ones did not allow the children to go into a few of the remote ones, and just for that, they used to tell us some imaginary tales of a man-eater named Babuli.
But now, seeing the person amazed me how we all believed it. Babuli does exist, and by no means, he eats humans. He was a part of this plot to prevent all the kids from falling into any trouble out of their mischief.
Evenings are equally marvellous as one watches the hues of the horizon at dusk. Early to that, the villagers bring back their cattle from fields, and it is always amazing to look at the way they identify their cows amidst the crowd and communicate while on their way home.
A walk into a tea garden is an invariable pleasure with its sweet aroma of blooming leaves, and so are the paddy fields. No day is complete without performing the rituals of reciting the name of God in a Namghor (village temple), and the scent of Dhuna (Smoke from Holy fire) is a bliss.
Amidst all, I receive plenty of invitations for evening tea. The best part is establishing a sweet rapport during the time as it is not just the owner of the house whom I meet, but a bunch of neighbours who comes to greet me with their warm smiles. So, now you know why I keep going back.
We should strive not to confine our space just to a city-life and choose to travel and learn about the simplicity around. Thereupon, we get to explore more of ourselves and the environment, and hence, go and visit any nearby village from your vicinity, feel its serenity and thank mother nature for being so humble and beautiful. Then come back with a mindful of happy experiences. I would love to read about your village.
And, if you are in Assam and plan to explore my fairyland, then you are most welcome. Unfortunately, you will not find any commercial accommodation, but I can personally take you there and make your stay at my Grandma’s place. They will never say no, and if you are lucky, you might get to drink some of the excellent quality of Haaz (rice beer) during your stay.
Thanks for reading!