'Teestar Kanna' brings Teesta shoal residents to tears
Around 80 years old, Class-8 pass Priyanath Das was sitting on the bank of the Teesta when he was reading Teestar Kanna, written about the lives of the people living on the shoal of Teesta River. The book, Teestar Kanna (Prothom Prokash, 2018), perfectly describes the stories of the tragic lives of its locals. Priyanath Das found a keen similarity between his life and what was described in the book. He is a resident in the shoal's Char Kalmati area of Khuniagach Union in Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila.
Priyanath Das told The Daily Star that he had 25 bigha of arable land 30 years ago. He had a homestead. There were many cows in the cowshed and paddy was available round the year in his home. Now, he has nothing; the river took it all away. The soil erosion from the river made him destitute.
Priyanath Das and his five sons are all fishermen by profession, though Priyanath himself has retired due to old age.
"There is no end to the hardships of our lives in Teesta shoal", said Priyanath. "I don't know the author of the book but thank him for portraying our life stories so perfectly."
68-year-old Golzar Hossain, a farmer of Char Kalmati area, too, cried after reading the book. As he read it, memories of the days he left behind flashed before his eyes. After losing 28 bighas of land and homestead, he had to settle on a government khas land 33 to 34 years ago and still resides there. His lands have turned sandy on the Teesta bed; no crops can be grown on this land.
Golzar Hossain said that the Teesta river is full of water during the monsoons, which drown their homesteads, structures, and arable land. But when the water recedes, they are forced to spend their days in extreme hardship—the river turns into a desert for seven to eight months in the year and the lack of water makes it impossible to grow crops on the riverbed.
"These images are clearly depicted in the book Teestar Kanna", Golzar said. "I found parallels with life while reading the book. I thank the author."
Poet and writer Ishor Dulon Roy, author of Teestar Kanna, told The Daily Star that many of his relatives live on the Teesta shoal. Once they were all rich, all now lost to the river erosion.
"I wrote the book after listening to their stories", he said, adding that, "I have tried to describe how the barren Teesta river is turning into a canal".