Polashi Moholla: Back In 1998

I had spent only the first eight years of my life there, but the place was the world to me from when I was able to memorize things. I was merely an eight-year-old kid when I left that place, but still I can visualize it clearly in my mind whenever I close my eyes. The name of the locality, or moholla, was Polashi, situated in old Dhaka. This is the place where I was born; this is the place I feel very connected to even now. For eight-year-old me, the moholla was oriented around the two side of a street because my home was situated beside the street. On both sides of the street, there was footpath, and along with the footpath there were buildings, one-storied tin-shaded houses, and business centers. The moholla was the world to me because I could find everything around there. There were grocery shops, kitchen markets, factories, bakeries, a mosque, a school, hardware shops, stationary shops, a club, a dustbin and a playing field. The street was linked with a wide road which went to somewhere I did not know. The street ended with a wall, where we had to stop while playing chhowa-chhui. To me, the world used to end there.

An adda of boys on the street of Polashi

Basically, the moholla was always noisy more or less. The azan from the mosque in the early morning used to wake everyone up. The morning used to be busy for the children and their mother as they have to go to school and their mothers had to make them ready. Around 8.00 am in the morning, boys and girls were seen walking to their school carrying a schoolbag on their back. After a couple of hours, the street again became busy with the opening of the shops. Only during the midday, the street would be a little bit quiet because at that time everyone used to take a nap at home after taking lunch. The street became full of life again when the sun was about to set. Boys and girls used to play in the playground. Sometimes they used to occupy even the street to play cricket. This was the only time when the housewives could take a break from their household chores. They used to visit the neighborhood and gossip with their peers beside the footpath, but never in front of the highest building of the street because the mother of its owner had died for being pushed from its terrace. People said that the lady was pushed by her daughter-in-law. That’s why, a hatred used to work inside everyone for the building. The whole street used to get captured with mouth-watering scent of fried snacks and cakes that were sold beneath a tree by an old man. On the opposite of him, someone used to sell spicy muri-vorta. It was so tasty that I can feel it’s taste even now. After the sunset, some children used to continue to play, while some children were ready finish their daily homework. They used to shout so loudly while memorizing their lessons that one could hear them standing far away from their house. As night became darker, men only were seen on the street. Those few people who were service-holders used to gossip and have tea in the club right after returning from office, instead of going home. The street remained noisy till midnight. After that, it was only a security guard in the street who used to blow his whistle and make sure that everything was alright. Sometimes, loud honk of trucks used to wake us up from sleep when they passed through the wide road linked with the street.

Beside all this, the moholla used to observe everything whole-heartedly, no matter it was a religious festival or a strike called by the opposition party. Sometime people had to hide beneath their bed to save themselves from the attack of the strikers. Youths of the moholla used to play music loudly over sound boxes during Eid and Puja. The moholla could be used to as model of brotherhood because Hindus and Muslims used to stay and observe their festivals together. I don’t know how, but everyone was known to everyone. That’s why, the whole street seemed like a family to me. Everyone cheered at everyone’s joy and mourned at sorrow. It was my birthday when we had to leave the moholla. For this reason, the celebration of my birthday was held five days before it. It was more like a farewell party than a birthday party. While leaving the moholla, I felt like something was getting torn out from me for which I was getting disconnected. For several years, it seemed to me like I was living out of the world. Till now, whenever I visit the moholla, I feel like I have returned to my home. This was the place where I had started my life, my education, which makes me so attached with it. This was my neighborhood, about which I cannot stop talking.

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