Thursday, April 22, 2010

Corridor Of Silence...

The IPL saga manages to capture everyone’s attention no matter how much one may try to be distant from it. Though I am an ardent follower of cricket, especially the IPL, time has drastically changed my outlook. It is time to ask the question…How much is too much?

Commentators often describe the area just in and around the off stump as the ‘corridor of uncertainty’. Bowlers are advised to get the ball in it  and the thumb rule says…No matter how good the batsmen is , how barren the pitch is, if you put it in there consistently, the batsmen will knick it, sometime or the other.

Both Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor have paid the price for fishing in the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ and are back in the pavilion. But what concerns me more is the ‘Corridor of silence’, in my life.

The ‘corridor of silence’ belongs exclusively to me and my princess. It opens for a mere 30 seconds every day and is the place where two immigrants meet. I stand at one end, waiting for her to appear and the corridor to open. As soon as it opens, the world seems to transform. I anxiously walk inside and at the same time as I look up, she looks down and our eyes meet for a fraction of a second. This fraction of a second is what I yearn for, everyday. It is my tonic to life. As I pass by her I can feel the aura, charisma and the magnetism which binds me to her. What follows is pure silence and I am left thirsty wanting for more.
The ‘corridor of silence’ closes and I am back to this material world with only my memories to cherish.

As I cherish the memories I wonder…

How much patience should I have with this silence?

When do I know it is too much?

Am I misinterpreting the signs?

I don’t know…

GOD knows it and/or She knows it. Take your time, but both of you please let me know…

Meanwhile, I shall tirelessly continue to bowl on this barren pitch of unconditional love to this exquisite batsman, hoping that my consistency in the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ will reap its rewards in the ‘corridor of silence’.

P.S. ...
23rd April, is the birthday of my loving mother. This post is dedicated to you.
Wishing you a Happy Birthday!!!
I love you mom.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Almost gunned down....

It was the summer of 2009…training time for the mining guys.

I and five of my friends were posted to train at Bailadila Iron Ore Project, Bacheli Complex, N.M.D.C. For those who don’t know, it is an Iron Ore Mine in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. It lies in the heart of the Naxal mainland near Dantewada, the place famous world over for naxal menace.

All of us took a train from Kolkata to Raipur and from there we undertook a 12 hour bone-breaking journey on the dusty roads of Chhattisgarh in the sweltering heat, to reach Bacheli. Upon reaching Bacheli, we were received by our affectionate seniors who had arranged for our food and accommodation. In the next few days we met the whole of the I.S.M. fraternity at Bacheli who were more than happy to see juniors from their alma mater.

Mining guys at I.S.M. never do their complete summer training. It is a tradition that has been going on since when?... I don’t know. Adhering to the tradition, all the six of us decided to skip the training and go home.

Everything was going as per plan until now…but the nightmare was just about to begin.

I had to go to Bengaluru and only way was to take a bus to Hyderabad and then take a train to Bengaluru. Accordingly, I booked myself on a bus to Hyderabad. When I came back to bade goodbye to my seniors, they gave me the starter of the nightmare I was to endure.

The warning came loud and clear…The bus passes through the hideout areas of Naxals and there have been instances of Naxals attacking these busses.

My heart skipped a beat or two and I shivered in fear….

I gulped down my fear and asked them… Is it really dangerous? They laughed probably at my stupid question. Their laughter and the light reaction to my question made me think… are they joking? But one look into their eyes told me they were damn serious.

The lure of getting home early (2 months in hostel + exams…and no proper food for past one week) and no available train tickets for another two days at least, left me with no option. I instinctively decided to continue my journey and there in was my first mistake.

I boarded the bus on the fateful day at 4:30 in the afternoon. It was an ordinary A.P.S.R.T.C. bus and the thought of enduring 16 hours of the journey through winding hills and Naxal dominated forests made me dizzy. I tried not to think much and made myself comfortable in the not so comfortable seat. I put on the ear phones and soon I was asleep…

Almost three hours had passed when the bus suddenly stopped. I woke up…thinking it was a routine stop in between and cursing the cramped seats, I went back to sleep.

The next thing I knew was that a short, muscular man, chewing tobacco, dressed in a dirty white banyan and military pants with a red scarf on his head was waking me up by shaking me with the tip of his rifle. I opened my eyes….the rifle tip near my head...I was scared me to hell!!!

I jumped in my seats and was now widely awake with fear dripping from every cell of my body. One look around the surroundings and I was petrified. I was convinced that the time had come for my life to end.

I looked out of the window and saw another 8-10 armed Naxals circling the bus. It was pitch dark outside and there was no light whatsoever other than the lights of the bus. One of the Naxals looked towards me and I felt he would gulp me down with his eyes. I glanced at my fellow passengers for some assurance but alas! They too were at a loss to understand what was going on.

Meanwhile, I had forgotten that the other passengers were better off in the sense that I had this little giant with a rifle to contend with first…

He pointed his rifle at me and spoke something which I couldn’t understand. I simply nodded my head to whatever he said. Unexpectedly, he started screaming at me. I almost pissed in my pants! His loud words impinged on my ear drums and I sensed he was asking” which one is your bag?”

I pointed to my bag at the top and instinctively slid my Laptop bag underneath my seat fearing he might take it away. Then the thought came to me ‘Let him take all he wants, but spare my life…’

He took my bag and searched for something in it. He couldn’t find anything worthwhile and threw it back at me. Yelling at me he asked me to spell out my bio data. At the back of my mind I calculated the odds of me punching his face, grabbing his rifle and fleeing from there. But, on second thought I decided otherwise.

I stood there trying to convince him of my innocence. He wasn’t much interested and demanded proof of my innocence. I took out the ID card from my wallet to show him. Seeing my college ID card he gave me a villain’s smiles and thrust the card back into my hands and uttered abuses. I felt relieved as he motioned me to sit back at my seat. They lingered on for another hour or so terrorizing other passengers.

My mind went blank and I kept still and mum, moving only my eyes till they left. The Naxals gave one last laugh and raised some slogans. The bus finally started moving and as they faded away into darkness I felt as though returning back from hell.

Uff… it was too much for me and I dozed off…

The bus stopped again near some dhabha. From the boards I made out that we were somewhere near Bhadrachalam…400 Kms from Hyderabad. I was too tired to eat anything and just came out to buy some cold water.

Drinking the cold water I recollected what had just happened. Stricken with fear I just prayed to GOD… ‘Let me reach home safely’ and spent the rest of the night staring into the darkness.
As I reached familiar territories near Hyderabad, the sun rose from the darkness and I wondered Is this the new dawn of my life???

P.S. ….
This is a true life incident. The incident changed the way I looked up on naxals. Previously, I thought they were cruel minded, evil people but their generosity in sparing my life changed it all. I don’t want to sympathize with them but they do have a point in some of their activities.