The Man in the Hills. (Part 1/2)

It is a story of that time when I was in a small hilly town of Assam. Assam was a new experience for me. A boy from the hot and humid northern plane exposed to the spine-chilling wind from the Himalaya. Although I faced a lot of problems in adopting and adapting to the lifestyle of the hills, I loved the place. It was like I was living in a painting. I lived in a small house with gabled roof and stone walls. A firm wall behind the house stood like the savior from the wrath of the mighty mountains. From the cracks of the life had sprung out in the form of wild bushes and weeds. How stubborn is life? Isn’t it? It was all very disordered and chaotic. But I never uprooted a single plant from the wall. All that disorder and chaos made sense somehow. I kind of adored them. The house belonged to an English couple who were the owner of the tea estate nearby and chose to stay in India after Independence, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey. Mr. Ramsey died a couple of years ago and unable to bear the loneliness Mrs. Ramsey took off to England, leaving the house in the care of Thampa. I had rented the house from Thampa Baba for a couple of months during my internship. It was beautiful with sprawling tea estates on both sides and in the lap of invincible Himalayas. There was a fall in the mountains across the valley which was visible from my bed through the window. There was a calm and patient breeze always flowing through the valley, refreshing everything. It blew as its purpose was to make the residents of the valley, living or nonliving, realize of their liveliness. It brushed away all the sadness, all the negativity, all the despair, all the depression and the valley sprung to life all over again. There was tea shop down the road from my house. It was the junction of the town where people would meet, talk and relax. It served a number of purposes like a place to kill time, a place for unnecessarily long and purposeless debates to satisfy your pseudo ego or a newsroom of town. I often visited the tea shop after my internship for a refreshing cup of tea and my daily dose of cigarettes. The shop was always full of people, different kind of people, strange people, some familiar faces and some fresh new visitors. It was always disorderly and chaotic just like the retaining wall behind my house. Yet it was soothing to sit there, quietly in a distant corner and observe. The room was always full of different kind of emotions. It was always overflowing with different emotions, a rainbow of emotions. Anger, bliss, hatred, envy, pride and much more all present all finding an escape. But the most peculiar thing about the shop was amid aged man named Buddhua. Buddhua was a tall man with long hair. He always wore a suit, the same suit I would say for as long as people remember and it seemed like his hair had forgotten the company of a comb. His suit was torn at places his pocket always had a bottle of local liquor. Buddhua always spoke English, except for when he was really scared or depressed. In a town where people rarely speak Hindi, seeing Buddhua speaking fluent English astonished me. First I thought that Buddhua was an Englishman, he had all the qualities of one except the accent. Elder people tell that Buddhua used to speak English from a very young age. Where Buddhua did learned the language was still a secret to the town and its people. (To be continued…….)

For Part 2 visit The Man in the Hills. (Part 2/2)


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