Atwari (Panchagarh) Correspondent:
The two brothers of Atwari upazila of Panchagarh district are still clinging to the traditional grinding industry of rural Bengal as their only source of livelihood. They are Shamsul Haque (6) and Salim Uddin (65). These two brothers did not change the ancestral profession of their fathers and grandfathers even at the end of their lives.
Their home is in the famous village of Toria Union of the upazila. They are two sons of late Dabir Uddin of that village. Even in the modern and digital age, they have kept the traditional art of rural Bengal alive by fighting with this profession for over 50 years. Although this industry has been lost in different parts of the country, the two brothers are still making a living by pulling this grinder like a fighting soldier in the crowd of lost.
Shamsul Haque said, I am the eldest of three siblings. My father died when I was 18 years old. Then a few years later Mao died. After the death of their parents, the two brothers have to take care of the needy family. Not finding any cool shores that day, I chose the profession of grinding industry which was left by my father.
Besides pulling the mill, I have also done agricultural work on the land. In this way I earned money and married my younger sister. This is how our family used to go. Now I have 5 sons and daughters in my family. I married everyone. In addition to agricultural work, the boys are doing various kinds of business and living with their wives and children. Grandchildren are studying in school-madrasa.
Salim Uddin said, “Since the demand for mustard oil was very high in those days, my elder brother (Shamsul Haque) used to run the mill left by his father and I used to set up wooden grinder (tree) separately. Even the two ghani trees are still running. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as more and more companies are entering the market. So, with the oil that we currently produce from Ghani, we set up shop on the ground in Fakirganj, Toria and Barghati markets, the main trading centers of Atwari Upazila, on a temporary basis, and the two brothers sit side by side and still sell the pure mustard oil and khail of Ghani.
He further said that due to low demand at present, 20 kg of mustard is threshed for two consecutive days. The price of 20 kg mustard is 1800 rupees. From 20 kg mustard comes 6 kg oil. I sell pure mustard oil at Rs. 300 per kg. Besides oil, 14 kg of khail comes from 20 kg of mustard. Khail is sold at 50 rupees per kg. 6 kg of oil is sold for 1,600 rupees. 14 kg of khail is sold for 600 rupees. Oil and khail 2,500 rupees. Salim Uddin earned only 900 rupees by pulling 20 kg mustard and his elder brother Shamsul Haque earned the same amount.
It takes 5 to 6 hours to grind 20 kg mustard. He earns an average of Rs 14,000 to Rs 15,000 per month. Earlier, people from far and wide used to flock to Ghani’s house to buy pure mustard oil. Earlier, due to high demand, I used to grind 30 kg to 1 gram of mustard every day. Now due to low demand, 20 kg of mustard is being threshed for two consecutive days.
Shamsul and Salim have not been able to do much with the income of the grinding industry for 50 years. However, he saved the money that was earned from this grinder and married the boys and girls by teaching them more or less education. Mosharraf Hossain Atwari, the youngest of six children in Salim Uddin’s family, is studying in the 1st year of BA at Mirza Golam Hafiz Degree College.
He said, this art seems to be mixed in every drop of my father’s and uncle’s blood. Every morning I see my father and uncle pulling the grinder with the cow. He is studying with the money from the sale of this oil.
Neighbor Habibur Rahman said the two were hardworking and very simple people. At this age, besides agricultural work, the two brothers are still making mustard oil by pulling a wooden grinder with cows. This is a rare example.