The Road from Agartala to Dhalai is insanely curved across the high mountain. More than 70% area is hilly and forest covered. The terrain is mostly undulating and hilly. My stuffs were shook back and forth inside the car’s trunk.
Luckily, I didn’t pack any fragile stuff in my luggage, just ordinary things that kept us alive enough while traveling in such an unusual place. But I was quite familiar with this kind of experience before. Because I surly knew that there was a round-trip ticket await for us in the end. No matter how far you go. There is something waiting to take you back home.
But after I met Shyana and Ripana Chakma. I started to think about the trip that I didn’t familiar with.
The trip of no return home
Let me give you some brief info about our trip. My journey leaded us to Dhalai district in the state of Tripura, northeast of India. We exchanged our discussions with Chakma people, a Buddhism ethnic group who migrated from Bangladesh to settle down here in Dhalai.
A long time ago, Chakma used to live in the east side bay of Bengal. But something which was called State Borders has been crossed on this territory, separated Chakma people from the rest. They became the minority groups who were left behind in India, Burma and Bangladesh, mostly living in Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh.
Even flourishing hills in Chittagong are still engulfed by harshly flames of war and political conflicts. A small amount Chakma people who survived have decided to leave their homeland for better, peaceful and secure places.
Tripura was the one place that they were looking for.
After I became a witness in the wedding ceremony of a young couple in the village of Andrarchara, Our faithful guide, Mr. Rega, introduced us to Shyana and Ripana Chakma, the migrant husband and his wife.
“We chose here because it was fertile and there were Chakma people living here” Shyana Chakma said, 50 years old man. He talked about his reason to settle down in Dhalai. His shack is made from bamboo sticks with tightly space for only 2 persons. His house is surrounded by vegetable gardens that the couple has been put a lot of effort to make it flourishing for years. The only sanctuary place left on strange land.
“It isn’t comfortable here but it isn’t difficult either. If it was possible, we didn’t want to leave our home” Shyana paused a second. “We still have brothers and sisters there, but we must leave”
The branches of trees were shaken by the strong wind. I looked around the vegetable gardens and saw a bright sunlight revealed the vast plains with several households in the area. Even it seemed to be peaceful here but exchanging previous life and people who were left behind is such an unbearable painful experience.
“What did you carry along in those times” I asked.
Shyana hesitantly looked at Ripana. They discussed with eyes. The wife walked into their bamboo hut and came out with a red worn plastic bag. Ripana put her hands together up to the head before unpacking the plastic bag.
Only 2 items were inside, one is a carefully folded picture of Buddha and another is a photo of Sadhanananda Mahathero, the deceased noble monk who were the center of Chakma people.
For every backpack that I’ve met, we usually keep important stuffs that keep us survive and help us return home safely. But for banished people like Chakma, it seemed the concept of “important stuffs” is far more difference than us.
We keep stuffs to save our life. How about our soul?
The things in the plastic bag remind them not to forget the past, the memories and the people.
There are travelers without a ticket to come back home.
Suphachai Thongsak Producer of Tipitaka
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