Silvanus Lamin :
I was born in remote village located in the forested area in Bangladesh where I spent my boyhood with my friends and parents as well as brothers and sisters. Actually, we, the Khasi indigenous community in Bangladesh depend on forest and nature for our life and livelihood. It is the forest which provides us with what we need to lead our life. So, every Khasi people in Bangladesh share an intricate relationship with the forest and nature. When we are hungry it has been the nature and forest that provide us foods in forms of fruits, vegetable and spinaches. The hilly streams and canal satisfy our thirst, the herbs, fauna and roots of wild plants serve us medicines, the wild birds, animals, fishes serve us protein and they trees provides us oxygen to get survived with healthy body and mind. In addition, the dead tree and its branches serve as fuel for us. When any storm or cyclone appears it is the forest and nature that save us and withstand. We, the Khasi community thus, treat the nature as our savior because; we cannot survive without its existence in our life. However, being one of the brood of nature I have been spending my life in the capital of Bangladesh since 1992. It has been 28 years since I have been isolated from the nature and forest. It is true that now and then I do come close to nature when I return home and this lasted only for 3 to five days which is not enough to come close to nature and perceive its contribution in my life.
Nonetheless, due to the pandemic corona virus I returned to my village in the last week of March and have been spending more than two months here in my remote village located close to nature and forest. Having no official works to accomplish due to lack of internet and computer facilities during the first month of my staying here I spent my times in the forest with my fellow Khasi people. I went to the hilly canals and hunt fishes and I collected wild potatoes, mushrooms and other wild foods being abundant in the nature. I was amused seeing the generosity of the nature. It provides us everything what we need. I accompanied my Khasi people when they go to their betel leaf, lemon, pineapple and betel nut gardens. They collect all those resources from the forest both cultivated and uncultivated without wounding the nature. Their way of working really fascinates me. It helps me recalling my boyhood when I accompanied my father in our betel leaf garden. My father used to tell me how to please the nature when we collect resources from it. He never wound the nature and its elements when he collected resources. He used to nourish the trees and other flora and fauna that grow naturally. When he hunted fishes or other sources of protein he used to leave some of them in the nature so that they could survive and practice their reproductive life. I remember, he used to scold me when I chop down any small tree, earth worms and benevolent insects. I could not understand sometimes the reason of his reproach though later on he used to explain. Today having abundant time to roam in the forest and nature I realize how important the nature is for us!
Roaming in the nature and forest during this idle times due to corona virus I contemplate that the nature is really good friend of us all. It provides us foods, medicines, fuels, oxygen and other important elements without demanding anything from us. The nature is so generous that it provides everything so that we could have a good life and livelihood and become healthy and wealthy. But we, humans, the most intelligent creation of God, destroy everything just only to serve our interest. We chop down trees, we degrade the soil, contaminate the water and air, kill wild animals, beasts, birds and other life forms to proclaim our power! However, the Khasi and other indigenous communities in the world are still friends of nature and forest. They conserve the forest, plant trees and adopt a carbon neutral livelihood to save the nature and forest. They are still grateful to the nature for its significant contribution in their life and livelihood. Staying here since 24 of March I discovered how the Khasi community treat the nature and forest. During the super cyclone Amphan the Khasi community did not get panic because they believe that the forest covered with thousands of trees and herbs will save them and it is true that there has been no damage done to their life and resources during the cyclone. On the other hand, when the one month ‘lock down’ was imposed due to corona virus the Khasi community did not buy additional foods and necessities. They have a strong belief that they could extract foods from the forest and nature and they did so. They did not get any relief provided by the government and non-government organization but they are fine. No one has been found starving and no one has been found to accuse for not getting foods and other necessities.
I tried many times to find positivity during this pandemic corona which could ease my panic and erase my tension. When I am anxious and over-thinking about my fate and future I tried to play with my kids so that I could find peace and mental strength. But I found as such as internal peace when I saw monkeys, birds play on the trees, I get fascinated when I saw small fishes playing in the hilly canals and streams. I get enchanted when I saw thousands of unknown names local trees nodding their heads towards the south during a gentle breeze blows and I get amazed when I saw the Khasi people working in the forest in a sustainable way without wounding and degrading the forest. Thus, the corona pandemic situation, in one sense has provided me opportunity to feel and realize how important the nature and forest are in our life. It allows me to perceive why the environmentalists focus on conserving forest and protecting the nature to combat the rapid change of climate. I understand, if we keep destroying forest and degrading the soils and other natural elements the climate change and its impact will erase all achievements of humans in the world. Therefore, we should consider and decide on how we could save our nature which will ultimately save us all. I think the most positive thing I received over these two months due to corona pandemic is ‘the better understanding of mine regarding the contribution and significance of nature in our life.