Adventures of the Faint-hearted in Patkai

Al Ngullie

There’s nothing like wrestling down the Editor so you can grab the juiciest assignment on the reporting register instead of sweating out for those mind-deadening political assignments. Ok, here’s how it went the morning I vehemently WWF-ed the Editor. There was this Patkai Christian College thing written on the reporting register. After blinking my blinkers at my luck that nobody had yet gone for that assignment I wondered what news was at Patkai. “You Dodo, news or no news go grab the assignment!” a voice inside me screamed. Why? “Because, Patkai is responsible for filling up that Suppandi-brain of yours, you dingbat!” I muttered at myself. 

So I begged the Editor to let me have the assignment while mine – a really yawnish sleep-friendly political meeting – be given to another reporter. Know why I wanted to report on Patkai? In the first place, Patkai is so full of rock n’ roll that illegal immigrants in Nagaland believe Elvis the Pelvis was born in Chumukediema and that Patkaians eat, drink and sleep only Guitars. Secondly, I’m a nose-high ex-Patkaian. Thirdly, I hate political stuff. In the final place, I’d wanted to go for the reason that if it’s Patkai, then the event must be ‘MUSIC’. Of course, apart from the rock n’ roll, there were other reasons too. “If it were not for Patkai, you’d now be lugging around a brain with the intelligence of a Condom!” I added. And talking of condoms, my Editor informed me it was to be a Seminar on HIV/AIDS. Crazy luck, I’d honestly thought the event to be reported would have something to do with music. Not pandemics. Yeeaaarrrrgggghhhhhh. 

So there, I rattled off in a museum-worthy Auto rickshaw that produced a strange sort of music that at best sounded like a Manipur truck down with a flu-induced butter-throat. A former music student, I’d played classical music and Thrash music too on the likes of Epica, Bloodgood and Morbid Angel. But lemme tell you that our fossil-auto sang only trash music not Thrash. No wonder people prefer CD changers in their cars. 

Anyway, Patkai again after years! Memories flooded me. Except for the new faces, perhaps prettier, little had changed. This was the college my generation and I rocked on RATT and Skid Row 3 years ago. The college where a group of us guys got reprimanded for playing football only in our Jockeys and under-shorts on summer moonlit nights at the playground; The college that got 14 of us guys marched to our warden’s office for catapult-shooting underwear hung outside the girls’ hostels; The college responsible for planting in me the seeds of responsibility, belongingness and a heart retentive of regenerative-insights.

No time for memories now. The seminar was on. Dr.Mhabemo was already in the middle of terrifying the students out of their wits with a substantially graphic dose of horror-pictures as he urged them to choose between popularity and HIV/AIDS. Ok, admitted, his pictures had the audience agreeing that youth was pretty tough. Now genital warts and all those eeek stuff made it seem even tougher. And the guys went deep pink simply by virtue that some pictures aren’t fit for consumption…er… witnessing, (never thought genital rashes could be consumed) especially with their Juliets around. The girls too had their share of aaaa, tch tch! Maha kheen no hoi while the faint-hearted ones pretended to sleep just so the Doctor’s screen won’t roast their ears. And of course my front-bench seated Patkai Principal had to endure the red-hot embarrassment of having to stare up directly at the pictures some of which were…er… too …ahem… unnerving! Of course you could see that he pretended to talk intelligently with Geoffrey Yaden, Nagaland Post’s Editor but actually was readying to dart out as soon as Dr. Mhabemo turned to the screen! And so did many of us at Bundrock Chapel! The only problem? The Patkai Students Union lay ready at the exit to fine us heavily should some one leave before the session ended! And I had only about 30 rupees in my dieting wallet. 

As for me I pretended to listen with an intelligent look. Actually I nearly died from cringing, cowering and winching at the pics. Yeah, the discomfiture-heat my cheeks would have fried an egg dead right. Even after attending hundreds of events on HIV/AIDS I haven’t gotten used to it.

Thankfully we saw the end of it after which we were all treated to a sumptuous lunch. Thanks to DC Dimapur for lifting the ban on pork – I’m a true pork-blooded Naga chokra. But I like only chicken. And yes, I made a new friend in Patkai. Journalists of the same camera flock together – my new friend happened to be the Editor of the college bulletin. We talked about Patkai, its changes, the students and also exchanged tips on how to look cool even in the face of Dr. Mhabemo’s pictures.

Alas, all good things come to an end. If I failed to get back on time the Editor would certainly have my beloved two-front teeth. So I bade goodbye to Patkai and my new friend and tearfully rattled off in another museum-worthy auto that produced a sort of music reminiscent of a Manipur truck down with a chronic case of butter-in-the-throat syndrome. Croak…croak.