I am returning, briefly, to the year 2004. I was in the uttor anchol, the northern region, of our Bangladesh for about a month that year. 

Will I ever know what was, back then, generosity, and what was selfishness, or the one maybe mirroring itself in the other, in the people whom I met? Probably not. Back then, I believed it was generosity. Since then, my mind has had to realise much more about the complexity of the human mind and its emotions. 

About the access to this knowledge, I am thankful. Had I remained always in Norway, I would have known so much less about the flaws, temptations and the wonders of the human being.

Fakir Lalan Sain sang that to know oneself is, indeed, prayer. In many of his songs, the subject of «him» (me) not knowing myself makes up the very core of the song. 

I suppose I will never know the core of what happened (to me) in 2004. Was my deep quest recognised in our uttor anchol or was I, intentionally, being fooled? Or, and most probably both. If I was fooled, which I think I also was, then the fruit of me having beeng fooled is real, and it is not all rotten. 

As a French person could have said: Cela donne à réfléchir. Which means: This makes (deep) thinking necessary.

To put it in other words: I may have been cheated, and that with a purpose, and I fell into the trap – which may have been a trap, plus a real longing on the part of the Bangladeshi personinto whose trap I fell. He understood my weak point (the amazing beauty of the old singingthat still, but only in some few pockets, with utmost modesty, of the land) and consciously or half-consciously he knew how to catch me. My history of disentanglement from the trap and many people´s deep wounds, is long, and it has got many ramifications. 

I accept that all of this happened. Had it NOT happened, I would probably have left Bangladesh in 2004 never to come back. 

It did not even occur to me that I was fooled when a person volunteered to look for old musicians for me. He started dreaming. Me too! We might have the musicians´ broken instruments repaired and we might create a space for them to sing again, that is: to empower them. 

My knowledge of the Bengali language was so limited. I could not interpret his tone of voice or the gestures, and there was nobody to warn me.  

My «lamp of questions» is clearer now than it was fifteen-sixteen years ago, for the simple reason that I have become profoundly connected, not only with the folk-song traditions, the core of the sanskriti (culture) of the land, but also with her people, most of whom areinvolved with deep music, and my linguistic capacity, though still very limited, has grown. 

In Bangladesh, I have had roses laid down at my feet as well as been asked to leave a certain place immediately, and if I did not do so, he himself would call the police. Why? Because I was a Christian (and not a Muslim). I had not even once spoken about God or about my spiritual path. 

The person who offered to find old musicians whose music I could listen to when I would come back to the region, maybe the year thereafter, may have been utterly generous, utterly selfish, or the two combined. Back then, he may also have been, in a simple and almost innocent way, happy to meet with a foreigner who recognized his knowledge and who wanted to dive into the sanskriti of his region. He may have known or been attracted to the reality ofbhab (deep feeling), or maybe not. I was not investigating lies or truth, or trying to discern between the two. I was fully and deeply present within a new kind of river. I had been taken in by the singing of some village people. I had not been initiated into the complexities of the Bengali mind at that time. What I did know was that some of the singers whose singing I had listened to, belonged to the Hindu tradition and others to the (Marfati) Muslim tradition. 

Before I left for Dhaka, he took me to his village home. His father, and then his mother, put his hands in mine. «He is your son now.»  

Do we ever know what somebody else knows (or is), and can we ever know what we ourselves know (or are)?

I did not know then, except in my most profound poetic efforts, what it is that Bengali people may call bhab. But being a poet, I was not far away from the existential or experiential fact of it. I lacked the concept, though. I lacked the grassroots Bengali feeling. Ami chilam por. I was a foreigner. But I was getting closer.

On my last day in the region, I was taken to a place where singing would take place in a forest. We travelled there on motor-bike, me sitting behind. Some bairagi people lived nearby. Bairagi = renouncer. A bairagi couple came to sing. They were obviously very poor. The man with his old sarinda (a string instrument) that had not been tuned. I was not greedy for technical expertise. On the ground, children, fathers, mothers, people of all ages were sitting, quietly. They were obviously devoted. Having been very close to some baul people, I did welcome the bairagi reality. I started asking myself who is who, whose path is baul and whose is bairagi. And how is it that there is such a density of Hindu families in this region.

I then started to ask myself questions of history on the South-Asian continent. Who were massacred, who escaped, who got stuck near the border between countries that had been so recently, and so violently, divided.

It was in this year, 2004, that I also started visiting a weavers´ region in Nadia, on the Indian side of the border. I got to know that most of the weavers, or their parents, in the village that slowly became «mine», had fled from massacres or simply and mainly for financial reasons left the region of Tangail in central Bangladesh and that they identified as Bangladeshi people still, keeping the dialect of the land of their birth.