Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rest everything is fine, it’s just fine!

This place is politically very sensitive because of Tribal Militants. They kill people, burn trains and rape women. Children here play with AK47-doppelganger toys and innocence is nowhere to be found. People here live with suspicion and fear; the fear of death. Some say they are fighting for truth, fighting for their birth right. Some call them Terrorists. I don’t understand what exactly is going on in here; neither do I want to. The community of weavers I work with belong to the same tribe in question. The love and warmth they have showered me with, the way they have taken care of me while on my field-work, the way they have helped me whenever needed, I am deeply touched. I have put up in the District’s Circuit House. Every night when I return after work, I thank god because I came back safe.

Many a times I feel like asking Maya and Mortician to come down for a short trip, but then I stop myself, thinking why should I risk their lives just because I miss them. Old life recedes further and further away and I console myself saying that they are just a few digits away. Though I call Mortician frequently I never call Maya. Strange thoughts plague me and I feel that the gulf between me and Maya would never be bridged; what if Maya does not pick up the call, what if Maya does all that the lunatic left me to suffer with.... I often feel like spreading out all my anguish at Maya’s feet, I often feel like giving all my secrets to Maya, but then I step back. No Maya, why should I burden you with my heartaches when you have enough of your own? Also what if Maya turns out to be like one of them! It’s not that I don’t trust Maya; I can’t trust anyone for that matter. Thanks to the lunatic, that word is lost in my dictionary.... and I like a fool had lain awake nights wondering why.... Sometimes I would wish that.... but what do I wish? Reconciliation and humiliation? All these thoughts keep splitting me in two equally unacceptable pieces.

Maya came down to Calcutta to meet me before I left the city. I was happy, incredulously happy, as happy as happiness could be, but I could not properly ever tell that to Maya. Back at home I used to wait for the weekends for Maya to come down but now in this exile, I don’t even have that luxury of pleasing myself by waiting for the weekends. Four months seem ever so long. I don’t know exactly what is it that’s disquieting me so much; I don’t know what I am so scared of. I know for sure I am not scared of Maya; maybe it’s my own self I am so scared of. All I know is that I wait for Maya and I don’t know why. I know I wait for Maya like I never have waited for anyone. My soul revolts and torment increases with each passing day. It is helpless, crying is no good, it is the faith I live by; the thoughts imprinted on my mind, my heart and my soul so strongly that I live in a shadowy insubstantial land.... and life goes on with everything else a little faded at the back of my mind.

There are police check posts at every turning of the roads. On our way to work, they stop our cab and check our papers every day. This morning while clicking photographs in the village bazar an old tea shop lady started hissing at us with her face puckered with distress; “Amar chele taake toh liye gelo rey ! Amar ghor ta jwaliye dilo rey! Akhon abar salara chobi nitey eshechey ken rey! (“They killed my son! They brunt my home! For what joy do the assholes now want to click photographs?“) Seeing her rage I was shocked and surprised at the same time. My whole body tightened with tension. She wasn’t ready to listen to us; neither did she wait for us to explain to her what actually we were there for. I have never faced such circumstances before. For some strange and unknown reason I felt guilty and ashamed, I felt as if I could not live with myself. I did not have any word to console her neither did I know how to react when all the eyes in the bazar got glued to us as a result of her screaming. I felt brutally helpless standing there in the market like a callous and facing the red eyes of those people there; I felt out of place, an out caste amongst all these people. I again thought of Maya who came down to meet me and I told myself that I should be satisfied with that. Despite the heaviness in my heart, I somehow hurried to drag myself towards the cab, and soon while it started for the next village, I fixed my gaze on the moving world beyond the window. The scenery blurred as my eyes grew hot and started to prickle. The desolate woman’s screams are still echoing in my ears and hammering on my head, even while I am typing out this letter.

While returning from work the roads ran cutting through fields of fire flies; as if a hundred thousand stars were strewn about on my way. Nature is always a wonderful resort when one is disturbed, it always offers harmony. Absolute bliss! Beautiful! The vast open evening sky allowed me all the room for shying hopes, suppressed fears and speculations of the unacknowledged.... the beauty in the surroundings added to the pain and I ached with that nothingness gnawing inside me. I wanted Maya and Mortician to be there with me. I miss them the most when I am happy; I feel as if life is so meaningless if not shared with them.... but I guess the luxury of living, how and where one wants, is not for me anymore.

Later, this evening, after coming back from the remote village we gathered that a shopkeeper has been shot dead in the town-market. The shops were shut on the way and very few people were seen on the roads. The front gate was shut and we entered our den through the back door.... once again I thanked God.

Scary stories of how outsiders had been often abducted in this territory are all known. I was never so scared of death.... recently I have realised that I am scared of death now. I want to live, I want to live again and I want to love again.... I want to love as if I have never been hurt. I get drunk and spoilt in the evenings all alone in the Circuit House and dream. Dreams that I have never dreamt before.... Mortician thinks it’s perilous. She warns me, gets upset, throws tantrums at times and calls me “silly’, calls me a “fool” and we talk ceaselessly about the layers of love, life and lunacy....

The endless soliloquies continue....

Some things come with their own punishments and do not change though life seems to have taken a new turn after I shifted from Calcutta. I know nobody here in this new town, nor does anyone know me. This is the life I had so asked for; a brand NEW life, where solitude would be tranquillity. No old ties! No old questions to be answered, no old acquaintances to be faced, no old songs to be sung! During my College days I had stayed alone, away from my place and had managed fairly well; I enjoyed the freedom, the independence. But this time being away from my city, away from my home, away from my household activities, away from my daily drama is not the same like before. Though this is the life I had been praying for till I managed to bag this Project, now the feeling is a little odd because how much ever I pretend to cope up, or try and actually understand, every moment I keep meeting the same wretched me of my past, and fail to cope up. I realize there is no escape. The joy in freedom is lost; the independence wreck less and dangerous. I am scared the newness of the new life is again tainted with the old wounds stifling me!

Lot of things though have changed; new faces around, new places, new roads, new rivers but often I am reminded of the Ganga while I walk along the banks of Gourang. Life here moves at a slow pace; we go to remote villages every day for work and I see how different their ways are from ours. These people in the villages are so poles apart from us, yet they are so like us, so known and so close. I talk to them, talk for hours. Try understanding them; delve deep into their lives, slowly and gradually, like peeling an old lover’s clothes. We talk about life, nature, society, poverty, miseries, happiness, fears and also about thousand other things; and with such natters the meaning of life seems perfectly simple. The respect, love and affection they show us are unadulterated.

Nature here is bountifully painted on the canvas of the mother planet; some of these villages we go for work are flanked by the Bhutan hills, blue and misty. But I don’t see the hills, I don’t look at the sky, the clouds don’t touch me; I want to come back and see them with Maya and Mortician. I walk down the hills hoping to see them waiting for me down the valley with their arms stretched apart. I wonder how long is too long while I wait for their much awaited arrival which never happens. At every turning of the road I wait for a miracle, I hope to see the faces I long for. The darkness under the saal trees, the bits and pieces of winter sky through the canopy of branches and the gusts of cold wind rustling the leaves make me wonder how cold must have been the winters there this time. The corner couch at the coffee shop would still be warmed up, Black Coffee with sugar-free in a take away pack would still be Black Coffee, would have the same rich aroma and Maya would call it the bitter sweet symphony…. Few lesser significance of life! And now I long for them even more. Back home I had so long waited to run away from the city, and now I wait for my city here; all I know is to wait…. the wait, again! I see kids in the villages, they run after our car in the evening on the dusty roads with the setting sun on the horizon in the backdrop.... and in all their faces I look for Maya and Mortician.

Rest everything is fine, it’s just fine!

Kokrajhar (17.10.2011)


  1. Everything happens for good. Everything gets better with time. Everything is fine, and if it is not, it shall be. Live in the moment, look at the misty blue hills while you can... don't put it aside for the elusive happy day to come; instead, let it make your today the happiest day.

  2. "Nature is always a wonderful resort when one is disturbed, it always offers harmony. Absolute bliss! Beautiful! The vast open evening sky allowed me all the room for shying hopes, suppressed fears and speculations of the unacknowledged.... the beauty in the surroundings added to the pain and I ached with that nothingness gnawing inside me."
    Loved it the most !!

    I am sure i am almost a year late to give you consols.. but still i will say
    Its only the middle time that we need to manage, the ending and the start can be managed..
    I wonder if you will not agree with it ..
    PS- thnks for the link.. Summer