The Dreamheron Diaries - স্বপ্নসারসের দিনলিপি

Thursday, August 24, 2006


The ancient Egyptians called the river Neelo. I like it so much better than The Nile, or Neel as we call it in India. The open vowel at the end – the refrain - is the flow of the river. So many river names in India end thus: Reba, Shipra, Vitasta, Kaveri…

The Nile divides the Sahara and the Arabian Desert. She pushes her water and nutrients as far as she can into the scorched sands. The result is the life-giving Fertile Margin. You can see it from the air: The river bordered by two thin verdant strips, beyond which the sands stretch as far as the eye can see. The width of the lush green margin is set by the competition between the river and the desert. But in the end it is really the sun that is doing everything. The sun is making the margin advance into the desert, and the sun is making the desert push back on it.

When I looked at the Arabian Desert, I thought of Lawrence of Arabia. When I looked at the Sahara, I thought of a lone Masai. And when I then looked at the river, I thought of Sandesh Dadu.

Sandesh Dadu was a very distant relative (Sandesh = Sweets; Dadu = Grandfather/Granduncle). He never married. He floated from occupation to occupation, place to place. Occasionally he showed up at our house, and stayed a few days. This was a time for great, almost festive joy for us children. I do not recall why. He did not tell great stories, or bring gifts. It was his mere presence. Whatever he said, we hung on his words. He pushed out joy from within himself. But then, practical considerations encroached. A guest had to move on. No one asked him to leave, but he knew he had to. He left. A refrain stayed (Dadu – that flowing vowel at the end…). May be he went and stayed with other relatives or may be he went back to his lonely room, wherever that was.

Sandesh Dadu’s first name was Arun, meaning, the Sun.