Sunday, February 22, 2009

A memorable trip

These days i’m sooo longing to see Mizoram again. It’s been a long while since i last went there, back in May, 2004. I was on a visit after having lived outside for many years. That day we were travelling in a Sumo from Lunglei to Aizawl. The jeep which usually takes eight passengers had only five. It wasn’t a lucky day for the young man who owned the vehicle he drove.

Zartea, the owner driver, greeted us all cheerfully. One unusual thing about him was that he neither smoked nor chewed beetle nut-and-leaves, both common habits among drivers.

And when we stopped for tea and snacks around noon at Serchhip, he insisted on paying for all. “All the bills are on me,” he announced. We protested and tried to pay, but the stall owner wouldn’t take our money as Zartea had told her he was going to pay for all his passengers. When we asked him why, he laughingly replied that since we were so few he wanted to treat us well.

In the evening, when we reached Zemabawk, some policemen stopped our vehicle and asked the non-Mizo passengers where they were going. One of them said he was getting down at Bawngkawn. The other one kept silent. The police must have assumed both were getting down together. We moved on.

A little later, a shop keeper told us that there was a riot in the town and we had better hide the non-Mizo guy who was in the front seat. A local girl had been murdered and the suspect was a man from Bihar. Angry miscreants had beaten up some outsiders. All of us became greatly concerned for our co-passenger’s safety. We were nervous and everyone became quiet, including the driver who had been chatting and joking most of the way.

Inside Aizawl, shops were closed and traffic was thin. Police vehicles were patrolling the streets. We asked a policeman whether they could conduct the non-Mizo passenger to Kulikawn, his destination. They agreed and took him in their jeep. Then the joking and laughing re-started.