I was reading yesterday's newspaper which i bought from new Delhi train station. But my mind has already reached the congested and moist Bus station of Guwahati. the train was as usual late. we had crossed already the Kamakhya temple later i was peeping through the windows to have a glance of Mighty Brahmaputra and its slimmy coconut trees. Before the train crossed the river, i could hear a heavy voice shouting, "Anyone from Imphal, there is a Bus at 9 PM!"
despite his heavy voice, he turned out to be a small 5 feet man with dark skin, he must be of forty i guessed. He could speak all sort of languages. I kept mum, not hinting anything to him. so he just passed away my compartment with his voice fading away like the evening faded away to the darkness of night.
After i walked out of the station I met the chap again, finally i asked him where is the Bus, He asked "Going to Imphal?"
He took me to the bus station where i booked my ticket for the last bus which would be at 10pm. he too got his share of money from the Bus counter for bringing a customer.
I sat at waiting shed blowing away the smoke of my last cigarette. i heard the guys next to me saying the bus wont leave tonite, as a bandh was called at Senapati, i asked the strangers what was the reason for calling the bandh. Later i found out , a Manipuri civil servant from imphal had been brutally killed by NSCN (IM). At the same time it struck me that, "what was i escaping from?" I was escaping from Delhi and its cruelest month ,April , nothing was happening there, life got fucked, no money, no honey, all i felt was myself evaporating away to sweat and anger, i didnt know too why i was so angry.
So i started looking around for a hotel after i confirmed about the timings of the bus, i met the guy again sitting in front of a pan shop, i enquired him about nearby hotels. and He took me to one of the cheapest hotels. And the last thing i asked him was where could i get a bottle rum, he said `wait i will bring it to your room', So i waited for him in the room #23, which is at first floor, after fifteen minutes he came with a bottle of old monk, i requested him to give me company so he was sitting and drinking with me., slowly he opened up himself with every peg he threw in his little throat.
His name was Shanti, i told him mine is Akhu and he asked me what do i do and all sort of things, i said i write poetry, he was curious about whether my poems were published or not, it was a surprise to me, how a guy like him bothered about publishing poetry.
He told me he was into a press some years back. He was married and had a life.
but it seemed it was quite a bore. He recalled me "do you remember the 1984 general election?" I said " no.."
He started his story " I was once a worker in this daily news service "Yahouro"
you might have not heard of it, it was stopped as its office was burnt down long ago.
I enjoyed the work in the beginning, but later their dirty politics made me mad.
You know! i was the guy who rode that printing machine in the deep of the night for the morning newspaper. And those times were the times where the rebel started getting involved in everything. As you know, what is happening now is what they have started during those days.
Thoiba was a guy who worked with me whole night. we were paid 1500rs per month. And my wife was never happy with it. I was married for three years,
first six month was romantic, you must have known such thing if you are married. what made me and my wife sick of each other was our childless life. i was told by a doctor that i am infertile, May be that news brought the silence to my wife, even when we were having sex, she wouldn't look at me, she stayed still like she was knitting or just sitting. she never looked at me. i got frustrated with my life, My parents were died long ago and i had a brother who later shifted to Cachar, last i heard of him was he was opening a pan shop in Cachar. i know he must be doing good. he was always flexible, and to survive with a full grown tummy one needs to be fucking flexible.
What made me more sick was my job apart from my personal problem,
Sometimes I and Thoiba were asked not to print the news as ordered by our boss and we knew he was too ordered by some rebel or some big politicians.
We were the one who sat and gazed whole night at the printing machine, sometimes we played card , sometimes we talked of our lives. Sometimes i wrote diary whole night, and I knew my wife read every page of it. That made her more sick of me, as i mentioned explicitly how i had sex with her like i was some poet obsessed with sex, you know ! like those poets.
But that night of 1984 general election was something which led me later here in this place. the next days people would be reading news of so many important things. they would read about the politicians promising to bring harmony and peace. some said to solve unemployment issues, some said every house hold will be provided water and electricity. And from the side of the rebel they tried to expose the dirt in our society covering their own misdeeds.
That night would be the greatest night of my life as we were going to print the most important news of that times. there were more other important news which i don't wanna tell you.
That night ,Thoiba and I entered the room after we were advised how the front page should look , what should be the head lines and blah blah.
the printing machine seemed like something to me which gonna shoot everything it doesn't want. Thoiba seemed uninterested with that great night and the great news of our times. So i asked him to go home and sleep with his wife and have the best digging of the night. he asked me not to inform the boss about his absence in the room.
So i alone owned the night and i alone was gonna ride the machine.
I tore all the news that had given to us, i chewed it, i shat on it, i burnt it.
But I printed a news, a story of a frustrated guy who seek no attention from this world, who died everyday in his diary with his 1500rs per month salary, who cried every time he saw his wife and childless womb.
I printed the news with all my most poetic words, i was a poet that night, i was so happy to know that i will be read, i will be heard, even if my wife didn't look at me while our copulation.
So at dawn i left the room and walked the empty streets of imphal as if i was the highway man who robbed the kings and the queens and made love with the princess.
Next evening they took me to the riverside and beaten me black and blue. And they were no police. I knew the police too would come for me. So i hide away from them and that night again i went to the place and burnt down the office of the daily news "Yahouro." I knew the Machine too must have got burnt.
And the next morning i took a bus to Guwahati and landed up to this place. From that moment i have embraced this land with my heart. This place has given me the love i deserved. I heard my wife got married to a rickshaw puller and had two baby, i was happy to hear about it, i was unkind leaving her all alone. But i knew she was strong enough to take care of herself.
Now i can have sex with smiles with many sex workers, they love me, they say i am as energetic as virgin. "
Shanti's story ended here and he left the room with his drunken eyes and steps.
Next evening i took the bus and wondered the whole way about Shanti's story whether it was all a lie. Next morning I reached Imphal, the moment i step down
from the bus i saw the newspaper "Yahouro"
and the headline flashed as " Here we come at your service after 25years"
I smiled and walked the road to home as I believed i was the master of my own .