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Living with unexpected reality  by K. M. Asad Appearance:
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Haunted by a perceptible fear of the Royal Bengal tiger, a group of seven to nine men walk silently, maneuvering deftly through the dense forest and thick carpet of deadly thorns of the Sundarban. These are the Mouals. With death as their companion, they search for honey in the forest, their major source of earning.

The Mouals ply through the waterways in search of honey. It is not often that honey is found near the bank of the river and most of the times they have to walk for three to four days deep into the jungle in death-defying trips. Besides the tigers, most of which are man-eaters in these parts of the jungle, there are pirates and extortionists who levy charges, even take lives, in return for safe passage. Mouals may have to pay as high as Taka 5000, equivalent to US dollar 70, for each trip. Many lose their lives to tigers and pirates each season. Even if they manage to flee both, they fall prey to swarm of deadly mosquitoes.

There is hardly any scope for growing crops in this region because of the prevailing high salinity. While most of the Mouals suffer from an uncertain future it seems that Mohammad Ibrahim Sheikh is destined to a worse fate. Both his toes are rotting away due to prolonged exposure to salt water. Coupled with that is the problem of dealing with two sons who are mentally challenged. The younger son Habibur, is violent at times and has to be restrained with ropes. Mohammad Ibrahim averages an income of Taka 6000, equivalent to US dollar 85 per month. While their struggle is enormous, hope seems to bind them together. Ibrahim's wife dreams of the day her husband will earn enough to treat their sons and his own illness. In the various hazardous situations they live with forest and always fight unexpected reality.


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