By Anas Khwaja
Intro: By virtue of being surrounded by the distributaries of several major rivers, Dhaka city and Nawabbari have been subject to periodic flooding. After heavy monsoonal rain, spillover from river Buriganaga caused major flooding in Nawabbari in 1988.
Firsthand experience: I have seen water rush through drainages as flash flood strikes. Water pouring from the pucca mer (raised boundary) looked like waterfall. The scenery was short lived. The Talab was filled up in a matter of days. Soon Ahsanullah road surrounding the pond and its arbitraries (Gullies) were submerged and there was no distinction between the talab and the road. Many Tilapia, Nilotica and Karfu fishes raised for angling season came up with the rising water. Young children were catching fish with sari’s.
Shameem (son of Nayeem sir) is always first to bring a boat. Later on, couple of other rental boats are floated to ease the suffering. Habibur Rahman (younger brother of home secretary Abdur Rahman sir) came up with a tube boat – probably sent from Canada by Kahtib Bhai.
Flood causes havoc for the rest of the country. However for Nawabbari it brings joy. It is seen as a break from routine life. Schools are closed and kids get to spend down time with their neighborhood friends. Men and women alike hold hands and walk across the talab kinaar. Female family members get this rare chance to soak themselves in waist deep fresh flood water. Boats ply under the scorching sun. It is both romantic and relaxing taking a boat ride in moonlight night.
Every good has an end. After a few days stagnant water turns murky. Receding water starts to smell smelling. Floating garbage became eyesore.
National calamity torches everyone’s heart. People’s suffering on TV screen makes Nawab barians donate to different relief fund. With passing time human mind forgets all the suffering endured and only remembers the little joyous moments.
With DND bandh (embankment built by prez Ershad) in place, Nawabbarian’s will probably will not see any more floods in near future. Memory from 88’s flood will remain vivid in many of our minds for years.
Pictures courtesy: Samreen Abdullah, K.M.Osman and Syed K Noman
Other fact on flood of 1988: This flood was catastrophic. It was estimated that about 85 percent of the city was inundated at depths ranging from 0.3 to over 4.5 meters, and about 60 percent of city dwellers were affected. The flood lasted for 50 days starting from 6.27.1988 through 8.15.1988. Flood also disrupted city life, air travel, and communication from the capital city to the outside world.