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The Financial Express

A dry Sravan, wet summer & a weird climate


Students enjoy the rain in Dhaka. 	—bdnews24.com Photo Students enjoy the rain in Dhaka. —bdnews24.com Photo

In whatever name we call the second of the 2-month Bangla monsoon ---Sravan or Shaon, the rainy month stands for pure rains. Even two to three decades ago, the capital city of Dhaka, would wake up to a rain-sodden morning, with the residents' courtyards under knee-deep water, and cool breeze soothing the hot and humid rooms. Unlike today's Sravan dawns, those late mornings would be completely free of any remote overlapping of long disappeared summer. The season of monsoon used to begin with the Bangla month of Asharh. Monsoon would arrive in Bangladesh without wasting time after the scorching summer departs. It has been part of the seasons' cycle in Bengal for ages. Hardly any seasonal weirdness would break the rule.

The arrival of the rainy season would occur as part of an unwavering routine. Amid the typical nature in the deltaic land's cities, the villages were not much different. With rivers swollen with the normal rains and the localised seasonal flood water swamping low-lying lands, farmers could be seen taking preparations for the fresh round of planting paddy saplings. In years, untimely rains in excess along with flood waters rushing from upstream rivers would spoil the cultivation and harvesting patterns. Thanks to the onslaught of flash floods, the farmers' first round of harvesting would go awry ending up in series of losses caused to them.

The crops lost in the months of Asharh and Sravan are chiefly grown from seeds sown in the dry fields. Few are capable of reading the latter season's wild behaviour. To the fortune of the farming communities of the country, comprising the largest segment of the population, Bangladesh is not usually visited by these deluges.

As the season of the very monsoon has started behaving unpredictably and in a weird manner, the onset and the ending of the Asharh and Sravan cannot be expected to behave in their earlier styles. Surprisingly, Kadam flowers are found still in full blossom in the rainy months in Dhaka like in the past. But croaks of frogs appear to have faded out for ever. In the rainy season, the croaking frogs used to wake the city people up from their deep sleep in the early morning. The sky remained overcast with deep-dark and grey billowing clouds amid drizzle the whole day. Just before the nightfall, it was the small and large frogs moving around the whole city, the sodden air heavy with their croaks, which ruled the roost in Dhaka. Hundred of frogs flattened under the automobile wheels were a common spectacle in the capital during the heavy rains. Frogs leaping into the village huts would complete the scenario. These days, as monsoon downpours have started thinning out, the leaping amphibians, too, have become rare views in both villages and cities. Child learners recite in chorus the rhymes on frogs. Teachers try their best to describe the movement of the unusual-looking 'animal'. But the poor kids cannot stretch their imagination longer enough to correctly visualise frogs. Except in the derelict and abandoned ponds, these amphibians are found nowhere in the big cities. It's all of a sudden village women hear the sounds of the frog movement and croaks in the backyard of their houses. Like many monsoon insects, frogs may have discovered their new shelters. Zoologists believe the rare species have become nearly extinct in the cities of the country.

Frogs recur in fairy tales, nursery rhymes and juvenile songs. The Vaishnab Padabali is filled with frogs, which have been widely used by the medieval Bengalee poets while narrating the loneliness (biroho) of a young male or female. The tragedy is the frogs' disappearance from the country is inextricably linked to the short monsoons or the rainy seasons without rain. Over the last two decades, the normal volume of rainfall continued to decline every year from the previous ones. In years, however, there were rains in excess. But thanks to their abrupt appearance, those couldn't help in the making of a full-scale monsoon.

It has been concluded by the meteorologists after in-depth studies that rainfall in Bangladesh is going through an acute phase of infrequency. They have linked it to the inevitable impacts of global climate change. A lot of others have dubbed the phenomenon the ocean-borne El Nino effect. This climatic irregularity finds disastrous expression in both rain-cum-floods and prolonged drought. The recent droughts followed by heavy rains seen in China, India and Bangladesh stand proof to the catastrophic changes being undergone by the global climate. Taking recourse to the ostrich syndrome will only add to the emergence of natural catastrophes one after another. Rains followed by droughts and vice versa are invariable results of extreme weather besetting Earth. Except the extraordinarily talented weather wizards, few could garner the faintest power of forecasting to give hints about these topsy-turvy nature-related events. After following a smooth pattern for centuries, the climate of the earth has started behaving in a weird manner. Extreme and record-breaking heat and rains in North America, Western Europe, Middle East and East Asia are a few instances.

The most glaring of the instances is Kentucky, USA. In over two weeks, rain-fed flooding and people's sufferings have made the US state a focal point of the climatologists studying the different aspects of global warming and carbon emission. According to meteorologists, Kentucky may have to brace for further bouts of the erratic weather --- mostly related to rainfall. Many also refer to the Florida rains. At this point one might feel like pointing out the night-long rainfall last year that buffeted a vast area comprising New York and New Jersey. Spurred by a hurricane, another hours-long downpour played havoc with the New York-area homes and subways in early September 2021. After the disaster was over, trails of devastation were found everywhere in the city --- with car parking and basements gone under water. A total of 48 people died in the rainwater deluge.

Prior to the climate change impacts, the two Bangla monsoon months of Asharh and Sravan were used to the prolonged spell of rains in some years. These downpours and drizzle would last for five to seven days in a row. People in both rural and urban areas would have to put up with the disruptions caused by the prolonged rains. At one stage everything in households or workplaces started giving out damp odour. The opposite also didn't lag behind. It struck the country in the form dry, sun-burnt days with not a drop of rain. Miles after miles, the earth would be seen nearly burning under the merciless sun. Crops in the field began wilting, and dying out at one stage. Thanks to the glaring high noon, pedestrians wouldn't come out of home barring on urgent business. A sun peeping out of the thinning clouds in the first case, and the gathering of deep blue clouds in the sky signalling imminent showers in the other case would bring relief to the people. Many people, however, dread the prolonged nature of these eerie behaviours of nature --- the perfect coinage of which being climate change.

 

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