A Trip Back To Time

Ilhamul Azam

© Copyright 2021 by Ilhamul Azam

Photo of a bamboo boat on water.

Hey Ilham, get up!” says my sister while shaking my dozing body.
This time I didn't ask to let me sleep for five more minutes as the excitement of going to the most beautiful place in Bangladesh had had its enchantment for a few days in me. I and my sister get ready on a foggy morning, this is the first time we see the first sunshine peeking through our balcony. We don’t have sleep dangling from our eyes, rather we look forward to having an adventurous experience incorporating the primitivity of Bandarban.

We along with the friends of my sister get to the bus station through an Uber. We get to the counter and see it hasn’t been opened yet. We see people with the same objectives as us, although we don’t interact with them. People getting induced by their impatience awaken the ticket-man bashing up the shutter of the small wooden counter-room. We take tickets and get on the bus.
Suddenly my sister speaks up and says, “ let’s quickly finish the namaz( prayer in Islam). We usually don’t get up this early and ‘Fazr’(name of the morning prayer) namaz is dedicated to this time.”

I say nothing and nod my head, after determining the west from the mobile compass we finish our prayer while sitting in the seat as that’s the most we can do now.
The bus driver puts the key into a thin rectangular hole and circles the key and with a terrible sound, the bus starts.

We are going through the uphill and downhill roads at a tremendous speed and the passengers are afraid that it may become the last bus ride ever for them.
Bangladeshi Bus drivers are pretty notorious for their driving skills and more for their driving on these kinds of uneven roads.
The motion of the bus is unstoppably jerking us and we look toward the driver and the conductor, they are quite indifferent to this inconvenience as though what was there to make a fuss about it. Suddenly we hear some screams, our blood gets cold.
Surely someone has come under the bus,” my sister murmurs.
I get off the bus with my big friends and get to see that, although no one has been pressed by the dirty gigantic wheel, it was a pretty close call. Since it was an uphill road the ‘was going to dead man’ just couldn’t hold on to the back seat of the bike and fell down on the road.
Thank God! The speed of the bike was pretty less or else we would’ve started our morning with a terrible accident,” said someone we couldn’t identify.

We get to our stop. Dragging our aching body, we stop by a hotel to have our breakfast.

It seems they put all the salt of the world in this ‘mugdal’( it is kind of dry lentil soup),” says one of our companions.

And they didn’t put any salt in mine,” I say.
It is the conservation of salt law. They didn’t teach you that in school?” says my sister.
We all fall out in laughter.
We were too hungry to complain and so whatever we gulped didn’t matter to us, who were going to have a great time.

We had already arranged a tom-tom (a local vehicle), we got picked and went straight to the police station to verify ourselves as tourists. Some so-called tourists visit Bandarban to do illegal businesses and that’s why this precaution has been taken to minimize and eventually stop the illegal exploitations.

Getting the documents done in the most beautiful police station, we went to a military officer to show the documents and take permission. The officer was quite friendly and even told us some insights on how to get to ‘Debota Khum’(our last stop essentially).

We started our out-of-network journey through tom-tom for the place, from where we would start walking and begin our actual tour. We informed our family members that they wouldn’t be able to reach out to us even if they tried. While reaching our walking stop, we stopped by many places. Every place was worth stopping by, so beautiful, so clean, so many mountains having crowns of clouds. We could stay in those places all day.
What could be more beautiful than those?

But we were leaving all these behind as we searched for something more.
We were travelling through time to the stage when there was no pollution, no technologies, only trees and us.

Laughing at our astonishment, the tom-tom driver said, “ These are nothing. Where you are going is gonna be way more soothing for your eyes.”

If your words are true, we are surely gonna see heaven today,” I said, feeling the pure, fragrant air I had never come across in my dull, bland town flat.

We get to our last stop, which is actually the shop of our tourist guide ( Every tourist guy has a shop, which is also their house if someone goes inside). That was the last thing, which had a hint of technology to make us remember about the existence of advancement. We change our clothes as if we were going to climb ‘Mount Everest’ and get hold of our light bags to survive through this anticipated journey.

Our walking journey starts with an uphill ground. We climb with great enthusiasm, and after a while, my sister says, “ I need water.”
One of her friends had water and he said to my sister like a coach training her student, “ Let us finish this track. Then, I will give you water.”
Hey, coachy. Give the water I say!”, warned my sister and snatched the bag and stole the water.

Our tourist guide was a pretty small guy, similar to Chinese structurally( the difference is that he spoke Bangla and other languages we didn’t understand) but immensely strong, fatigue was not there in his dictionary. He walked at a great speed even on the uneven ground holding his small Nokia mobile, where the music was always running.

We are walking, we are walking through forests, we are walking through fountains that have fresher and colder water than I have ever felt, walking through trees I don’t know the names of but seeing them seems so blissful as if they were talking to me. We are walking through beauties that cannot be exhibited by these non-living letters.

We come across a narrow route that has death on its right side as well as green mountains I can’t take my eyes off. We go one by one admiring, drinking everything our thirsty eyes look for, everything our eyes could ever see.

Even though it’s winter, the sun was not to be ignored at noon, moreover, we were sweating a lot for the physical exertion we never did before. Therefore, even after all these heavenly elements around us, we were getting irritated by the heat and so weren't able to live every moment. However, the temporary inconvenience lasted till we got to a cold waterfall. We were longing to touch the cold for a long time and when we got the chance we dived into the transparent waterfall as if we got an unknown treasure. The waterfall had greenery on the rocky surface all around it, as if mother earth was hiding its beautiful girl from any tragedy that could ever occur to her.

It was saddening to leave behind this beautiful girl but we had to meet other glamorous relatives of her as well. From now on we had to start using the freshwater of this geography to move forward. There was a wooden hotel on the starting spot and they had ‘life jackets’ hanging on wooden hangers. We put ourselves into them and prepared ourselves for the most anticipated part.
We used ‘vela’ ( a type of boat with no curves and made of bamboo). We were quite afraid to ride on that as we were presuming that we wouldn’t be able to balance on that amateur boat we never rode on. But when we got into it, we were pretty damn good balancing while rowing the green vehicle.

We entered the realm of ‘Debota Khum’. It was a green watery cave, abnormally cold, a silent realm that had only place for echoes and the sounds of water trembling. It seemed a well for a deity immensely bigger than us to get water for its daily chores.

We were rowing through the silence. It was no place to talk, it was a place to see, to observe what glamour nature could have if preserved.

I never wanted to come back from this remarkably overwhelming period, but we, humans, live with limitations, what a disgrace!

After putting our feet on the ground again, we felt that we were wet, precisely weirdly wet and cold. But the people of the wooden hotel already made a fire for us ( sweet people) and we all immediately sat around it till we could feel our fingers.

We reluctantly walked for the bland, technologically revolutionized world. We were looking toward all the things all over again but in the dim light of the sun, this completely changed the appearance of the surroundings of the heaven called Bandarban and so beautified the appeal to us.

The music was again being played but this time it made me emotional. 

People call me Ilham. My mother says she has got me after tremendously long prayers.
  I started living in Chattogram, Bangladesh when I got out of my mother’s womb. All my life I have loved reading books, although I hate books that give me the feeling of watching a movie. I have been living in Bangladesh for 16 years, I don’t know whether I love people but I surely love beautiful books.   I am a 16-year-old 'trying to be honest' writer with one international recognition. I am immensely grateful for the attention my submission will receive. I deeply appreciate the time getting invested in my work.

Contact Ilhamul
(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher