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Paperhut Project

Road to El-Dorado

For centuries many people have shared a common dream. The dream to find El-Dorado. El-Dorado, the mythical city of gold. Many people, who were incidentally great explorers, threw up their lives for this city of gold. But no one was ever able to find the city, never ever. Shakeeb shared this dream, the dream to find the El-Dorado, the city of gold, the city of dreams.
Shakeeb was a jute farmer and his family was in this for generation. But he doesn’t want the same fate for his son Sohail, let alone his seven daughters. He lived in a small farming village near Chittagong. He was a family man and happy with what he was until the city of El-Dorado came haunting for him.
The sun was shining high above his head; perspiration glittered like diamonds against his dark forehead. He had not eaten anything since the last night. Carrying a big jute sack on his back he was moving through the dense forest, sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly. Forming a contrail behind him was his son Sohail, closely followed by the seven girls. Each one was carrying small and large sacks according to their age and capacity. And in the end was his wife carrying a large jute sack on her back. They had a limited supply of food and very little water to drink.
Shakeeb was carrying the biggest load, the load of finding the way to El-Dorado. He was moving quickly through the dense vegetation of the forest sometimes waiting for everyone else to cover. He wanted to cover the maximum distance before the sun dies on the far west. They reached a place with no trees. It was about to be dark so they halted there. They collected some dry wood and made a fire to keep the wild beasts away.
Shakeeb sat under large tree thinking about how much they had to go. Alisha, his daughter, distracted his thoughts when she brought some food for him on a giant leaf. He put his hand on her head and caressed her hair, praying from the Almighty Allah to show him the way. When Alisha was gone his thoughts wandered again. Was he right in his pursuit for the El-Dorado? But he knew he had no other way. Famine had hit the jute farmers the worst. And El-Dorado was his only hope.
When the first light arrived, they continued their journey. They went on and on crossing dense forests, mountains and wild streams. By the wild stream they halted to rest and to clean their wounds. They replenished their water supply from the wild stream. They crossed it where the stream was shallow in a single file. Sun went across their head from right to left. They paced up when it started to grow dark looking for a suitable place to wait for the sun to rise again from the far-east. Shakeeb looked around and far he saw silhouette of a nose shaped hill. From the legends he knew he was on the correct way.
When the next day begin they kept on moving, sometimes rapidly and sometimes slowly. Days went on and they ran out of their food. What appeared to be the correct way now looked like the road to nowhere. If they were on the right path they should have reached their destination, El-Dorado, by now. But it was nowhere in sight. They hadn’t even seen a man from many days. Sitting under the open skies he cried. His wife consoled him and told that the will of Allah shall be done. Next day arrived and they identified and collected wild fruits suitable for eating. To move at a greater pace they dropped some load and rearranged the remaining in the jute sacks.
They now moved much more quickly making their way where there were none. The day was about to fade away with the setting sun. It was enough for him, his family was in pain. His pursuit for the El-Dorado has landed them nowhere. In this dark hour, his wife told him not to remorse and said, “Wait for the morning Allah will guide us”.
Morning arrived. They kept on their journey moving rapidly through thick woods. Sun was shining high above his head; perspiration glittered like diamonds against his dark forehead. It was then he noticed that now they were not moving across hills or thick forest but a plain, a fertile plain. It was a good omen, a very good one. After continuously walking for an hour or two they reached a small settlement of people.
He murmured to himself, “Welcome to El-Dorado”. They told the curious villagers of their ordeal. Villagers gave them some food and water. An elderly couple offered them a small hut in their farm. Next day villagers helped them erect their own hut in a deserted piece of land. They had found the city of gold, the city of dreams, which many ones had failed to found, because they failed to understand the El-Dorado.
Shakeeb and his family were one of the first migrants to Assam from East Bengal. And since then hundreds and thousands of people have came there chasing the same dream, the dream of El-Dorado following the footstep of likes of Shakeeb. Rich and fertile Assam is the ultimate El-Dorado for many a famished. They have found El-Dorado, the city of gold, the city of dreams. The dream of survival … Their only hope… El-Dorado.

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