September 2020 \ News \ TRAVEL COLUMN: SUNDARBANS

After a holy bathing festival at Sagar Island ...

By Susan M. Griffith-Jones

A perpendicular turn off the embankment leads us onto a narrow pathway. Like an arrow shooting straight towards the island’s interior, it forms a raised platform above the fields. We pass sublime little homes inset from the road, fields on either side rich with some form of agricultural produce, the light full on its foliage in the afternoon sun, sparkling from the surfaces of large freshwater ponds dug out nearby each home, clumps of various brightly coloured flowers shimmering, birds, animals, fish, insects, people, equilibrium.

I try to fathom the implications of breathing with the ocean’s natural tides here, seeing one’s world around being constantly encroached, metres by metres, year-by-year as the salty water surrounding the small island creeps ever-inward towards the heart of your home, threatening to render the soil infertile for decades, professing government over your shores.