The Dream Vacation

Posted: October 20, 2012 in Stories
Tags: , , , ,

 

 

“Rishi beta, receive the phone.” Anuradha shouted from the Kitchen. It was 6.30 am in the morning. She wasn’t expecting any long distance calls at this hour. It seemed important but her hands were covered with wet flour dough. Her husband Sarang was out with their younger daughter Asha for his morning walk. Rishi, the eldest son was brushing his teeth whilst checking songs in his new I-pod. This is the busiest time of the day for Anuradha. Cleaning up, preparing breakfast for the family of four, preparing lunch and packing lunch boxes for her husband and the kids. She doesn’t even have the time to breathe at this hour of the day.

Sarang is a Maths teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya, in suburbs of Nagpur. He had finally managed to obtain a transfer to this new school almost a year back. Before this, he had been teaching at KV Imphal for a year. But the unrest, militant insurgence and constant violent incidents forced him to bribe few officials and get a transfer to Nagpur. In fact, it was Anuradha who coaxed and begged him to get them away from Imphal.

The phone was still ringing…

“Who could it be?” She thought “could it be Jiten.” Everything seemed so surreal… Their one year stay at Manipur and their close bonding with the Singh family.

*********************

She had heard of the beautiful North Eastern states and often curiously looked at the advertisements in Doordarshan. She wanted to visit the seven states once in her lifetime and had expressed her desire to Sarang once. Few Months later Sarang broke the news to her “You can start packing now, Anu. Your dream has come true!” he had said with a smile.

“Where are you transferred to now? I am so tired of shifting places. Once Rishi completes his 10th boards I will settle down with the children at Jabalpur at our own house… Your transfers will ruin their studies…” she rattled on.

“Come on dear, don’t be upset now. We are going to North East this time. I am posted to Imphal, Manipur.” He replied, excited.

“Really?” she glowed, but her face fell immediately. She had read about terrorism in Assam and other states, the immigration issues, unrest and border disputes in Manipur. She had read about Irom Sharmila, who is on an endless fast to end the Armed Forces Act in the state. Sight-seeing was fine but living in such a volatile place with two little children for God knows how long… It was the last thing she had ever dreamt of. She looked at him in despair.

“What? You had always wanted to go there! I have spoken to few other teachers and they say it is a great place indeed.” He tried to raise her spirit.

“That’s alright, but… Is it safe?” she inquired.

“Of course it is… do not worry.” He tried to cover up his own concerns now. He was worried too. But this was a final order and he had to leave in a fortnight’s time.

*********************

She had been to different parts of India before but Imphal was very different… More importantly, the children loved the place. Situated at the bank of a grand moat and surrounded by beautiful green hills, it was paradise on earth. It was at the amazing Mother’s market* that she had met Rachna, Jiten Singh’s wife. They bonded immediately and the two families’ attachment grew. The Manipuri family welcomed and adored the Mehtas as if they were their own kin.

Even Rachna hadn’t visited many places in Manipur and hence her husband, Jiten planned a week long Manipur trip for the two families. He also used his connections to attain ILP** (Inner line Permit) for the Mehtas so that they could visit the underdeveloped tribal regions and explore the unseen culture, crafts and resources.

Just a week before the planned trip, the fateful Manipur blockade began. Violence and insurgence became a common thing. The Highways were blocked and inflation was at its peak. Strikes and clashes followed. They decided to postpone the trip until the blockade was over.

Days became months but the unrest showed no sign of settling down. It was heights when she read an advertisement in leading Daily newspaper. It read “Buy a Sony VAIO laptop and get a LPG cylinder free”. LPG and fuel scarcity, inflation of food items and long strikes were still fine… as long as the people were safe. But Anuradha went berserk one day after she read in the local newspaper about the clashes and attacks on non Manipuris. She would not risk her family over Sarang’s posting. She didn’t care how beautiful Manipur was anymore!

She coaxed Sarang until he obtained a transfer to Nagpur. Jiten had ensured that they safely crossed the Manipur border. Before they parted Rachna and Anuradha wept, hugging each other. It was then when Jiten announced – “The trip is withheld temporarily… But as soon as it is over we shall all tour together. It’s a promise”. Sarang nodded in approval.

*********************

The phone was still ringing. She looked at Rishi. He was sitting on the dining chair, his ears plugged in with headphones and swaying to the loud music which was lightly audible to Anuradha as well. She thought of receiving the phone call herself.

Sarang entered the very moment and reached for the phone…

“Hello, Sarang Mehta Speaking…”
………………….
“Hey…. Good morning… what a surprise!!!” Sarang exclaimed “I was hoping you would call us… we are always so worried about you people…”
………………….
“I know I know… Landline was dead. How is the transportation system doing? Are they allowing vehicles from other states? How is the inflation… ”
………………….
“I am so glad, it has ended now… Pray that it lasts forever now… A year long blockade… can you imagine???”
………………….
“Kids are good. Your bhabhi is doing great too… We are all fine here… ”
………………….
“This month? Oh… I don’t know… I haven’t thought about it…”
………………….
“Is that so… sure then… we shall be there in a week’s time…. It’s a promise!!! Ha-ha… sure… Bye”
………………….

Sarang placed the receiver on the cradle. Anuradha came running from the kitchen and looked at him with queer eyes. Sarang smiled with pressed lips adding to her suspense…

“Will you tell me what’s going on? Was it Jiten?” Anuradha couldn’t resist asking.

Sarang sat on the sofa and stretched his legs… grinning widely.

“Fine, don’t answer me… I shall see who takes care of your morning tea and breakfast today!!!” She displayed fake anger.

“Well, my dear… we are going to Imphal next week… as soon as summer break starts at school. Jiten has planned a trip for us – whole of Manipur, parts of Meghalaya and Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary of Assam…. Finally the blockade is over for good.” Sarang dropped the news.

Anuradha’s jaw dropped…

Rishi and Asha had already picked up a fight on who shall take the window seat on the plane…

“Isn’t that news worth a cup of strong tea, Anu….??? And my tummy’s growling for breakfast…” Sarang added smilingly.

“Ah…. Yes… it certainly is….” Replied Anuradha… still shocked, confused and surprised… but she was happy.

“It certainly is…” she murmured and walked into the kitchen hastily to prepare tea for Sarang. She had to be quick… she had to finish everything quickly… there was shopping, packing and so much to do… for her dream vacation…!!! There was no time left to waste.
 

 

* Mother’s Market – This is an all-women market run by more than 3200 women under one roof.
** Inner Line Permit – A pass (like passport) issued to Non Manipuris (non domiciles) to enter certain regions within the state to prevent exploitation of local tribal. You will be surprised to know that you cannot enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh without an ILP, unless you are an Arunachali.

………………………………………………………………………………………
 

 

An attempt to capture the reality of North East Indian States, plight of locals and non locals. This is how people live while the center and the national news channels sleep.

Kindly comment on the content, reader engagement as well as the style… honest and sincere criticisms and literary suggestions are welcome.

 

 

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Comments
  1. RAMU DAS says:

    Sikkim is added to the Northeastern states, so now it can said 8 sister-states. Well,anyway, you seem to know a lot about the Northeast , and have so much concern about the North-easterners 🙂

  2. Hi NJS,

    You have a great flair for telling a story. Enjoyed your post very much, thank you. I am curious though of something. Which of the characters are modelled on yourself?

    Shakti

    • njs says:

      Glad that you liked… Well in this story I am the spectator… But obviously so many thoughts of every character reflect my own thoughts and feelings to some extent. Loved your blog too… 🙂

  3. Gavin says:

    Hell NJS,
    A well written story i must say, but i was wondering if you happen to know which newspaper “Anuradha” saw the advertisement. It is great importance to me, thank you 🙂

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