Thursday, 21 June 2012

Travel Blues (Part IV) (Silchar to Guwahati)

RK Rishikesh Sinha

There are times when you are caught between two sets of people who think differently. What would happen if the task take place high in the mountain in a confusing, tensed environment between these two types of people. One such incident, I witnessed while travelling from Silchar to Guwahati.

My nap broke when the Sumo in which I was travelling stopped high in a mountain. It was dark all around, and I saw a long chain of elephantine night super buses with number plates of Assam and Tripura in front of us. I came to know, the Sumo was stopped due to heavy landslide. I discovered from my co-passengers that we are in a landslide-prone area. “Hell to this landslide!” I murmured.

Except women and children, and old people, who were on the bus, all men came on the road and started taking stock of the situation. Looking at the faces of the women, it seemed that they have surrendered their wish to reach Guwahati on time. In the crowd of people, there were jawans who were impatient with the blockade.

The spot of landslide was flooded with beams of lights emanating from the headlights of the buses from either side of the road; jawans who were travelling from different buses took the hasty and risky decision to clear the blockade. Their decision disturbed the civilian population. They said BRO officials will come, and they will clear the road. “Woh kab ayenge?” said a jawan from the group. “Tomorrow morning,” said a civilian person, and continued, “They will come with cranes, and will put fences to stop further landslide”. Till then, a big crowd had assembled and could be seen on the road; some loitering with no purpose, some talking in groups, and some speedily coming to the spot. There were people who were tense and confused, and some who have surrendered to the situation and were planning how to spend time till morning.   

Making the situation bad to worse, rain started pouring. Thin column of muddy water from the mountain had started flowing down our feet. “The type of soil in the mountain is different. It will be dangerous to work upon it. The rain has started. It is even more dangerous to stay at this stretch,” said a person. “We have to catch trains tomorrow from Guwahati. We have to go a long way,” said someone from the crowd. “These people have brains in their knees,” someone muttered.

Ignoring the confusion that was prevailing at the spot, a jawan said hurriedly, “Let us clear the road. We need tools”. And the group of jawans spread like bees and went straight to their respective buses. My Sumo driver lied to them fearing his tools will get lost. In the rain, the group of jawans soon cleared a section of the road with whatever things they could lay their hands upon. One part of the road was now open for traffic.
The first Guwahati-bound night super bus crossed the spot. In the same way, the second bus crossed the spot, the third bus. Minutes after, the traffic stopped again. What happened, now? Small vehicles, and the buses from the either sides were trying to cross the stretch at the earliest thus creating a jam. “This is a new problem,” I said.

Soon the traffic smoothened. The Sumo in which I was sitting also crossed the spot. I saw the same group of jawans who took the decision to clear the blockade and dirtied their hands had taken charge of the spot. There was a sigh of relief amongst us that we are indeed out of the trap. “These people cleared the blockade. Had they not been here, we would have lived whole night in this jungle,” said the driver smilingly.
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