An unforgettable journey

Morgan Pou

Sweet or bitter? Memories stay on. It happened to me a month ago when a 3-hour journey from Kohima to Senapati took almost a night and a whole day.

I was sure that meeting the security forces on NH 39 was a sure sign of safety, however, contrary to my belief, the journey in the midst of them proved more difficult than any other day. The economic blockade called by ANSAM was in full swing and the journey in the midst of the convoy was memorable .The famous two lines written by William Wordsworth came to mind:

“The music in my heart I bore 

 Long after it was heard no more.”

Wordsworth could not forget it because the music of the young solitary reaper enchanted him while I was enchanted by the uncaring music of the security personnel on duty.

I was heading home along with two friends after meeting old friends at Kohima. It was 7.30 P.M by my watch. IRB personnel from Nagaland suddenly stopped us barely after crossing Kohima at a place called Phesama. We pulled over without raising any question afraid of provoking the excited security personnel on duty to escort the goods-laden trucks bound for the valley districts of Manipur state. 

We waited patiently inside our vehicle talking about dinner. They allowed us to proceed after half an hour. Our engine rolled on but noticing the headlights of many vehicles at the base of Jakhama Army Base, we slowed down, afraid of being harassed if we follow them closely. We trailed on, keeping a safe distance. Reaching Mao Gate driving at 20 km per hour, we felt relief because we were nearing home but the security personnel from Manipur state belied our hopes when they accosted us more rudely than their counterparts in Nagaland. We accepted their folly, because our looks and appearances were that of the enforcers of economic blockade never resembling the Manipuris although we hail from the same state.

At this time, we were already starved. The security personnel after stopping us were having their fill at Mao P.S but nobody invited us to dine nor did anyone asked whether we had our evening meal. They walked passed by us, unconcerned about our well-being flashing their torches at intervals. Behind us, Tata Sumos bound for Mao gate, Tadubi and adjourning villages were lined up on same reason.

After more than an hour, they signaled us to go ahead. We readily accepted and made our onward journey to Senapati. It was 11.30 p.m. Hunger consummated our minds straight for home, disapproving of any harm on our way and being acquainted with NH-39 on that short stretch we headed for home. Nonetheless, we were careful because we were also apprehensive about the dangers during such times. In addition, we were apprehensive over the manner in which the escort personnel had allowed us to proceed ahead of them. We sensed danger and drove slowly.

As anticipated, our headlights showed before us pointed objects popping out of the surface of water in a rain fed pothole. We came to know then that the security personnel have used us as hounds in a hunting trip. Our precautionary measures were not enough to protect our tyres. Hardly after two kilometers from Tadubi, our vehicle broke down.

It was raining then. One of the rear tyres was flatten. My friends tried to fix it and was almost about to fix it when suddenly two other wheels went down. We quit. We looked around for any dwelling places nearby but there was darkness all around us. Some minutes later we heard the sound of a big ‘bang’ and saw a Maruti van parked behind us. It met the same fate as ours. We slept in the vehicle after sharing an unpleasant laugh and a bottle of mineral water, the only food with us. Slept soundly after the day’s tiresome journey but woke up hungry and exhausted.

The morning was misty and drizzling, eager to reach home early for comfort and rest. We worked hard at the wheels.Checked the errors. Three tyres gone and we removed it. By luck, a tyre workshop was nearby. We called at him. It was a Sunday. He was working on one our tyres and he found out that there was no adhesive. The mechanics had gone to get it from Tadubi and we were just checking the holes in the tubes when a bulletproof vehicle veered to a halt in front of the tyre workshop. They were the MR, IRB and police personnel escorting the goods trucks. They have with them a number of damaged tyres. They were then pointing to people around asking for the owner of the tyre workshop. After learning he was out, they took control over the tyre workshops, commanding every skilled person in the trade to work on the damaged tyres. We were the first customers but the security personnel showed no concern for our misfortune and showed more consideration for the trucks they were escorting and not for people like us.  One of the security personnel chided me saying, “Your vehicle also got punched? Are you not from Senapati?”I told him that ours’ was the first but he did not care. We impatiently waited for their departure. Finally, they were gone, but after making good, a number of tools for repairing tyres from the shop that helped them. Such was their expression of gratitude to someone who helped them. When the mechanic returned with the adhesive, essential tools were found missing, he had to send someone to Tadubi to hire the tools. The whole Sunday morning was spent in repairing the tyres.After the long morning, we decided to drive home but on being advised not to go ahead of the convoy. We stayed back waiting for green signal. Finally, around 5 p.m towards the evening, we made our way home wondering why the escort personnel took little care of us.