The white road shall give you the way to that little village called Jitti, under Chargharay block in Samtse District in Bhutan, a tiny village sharing a border with an Indian district of Jalpaiguri, watching over the Jitti river.
The people walk this white quartzite road after being packed from the bordering town. The whisper of the breeze, the incantation by the bees, the laughter of the Jitti river and if you are the visitor during winter, you shall be accompanied by the chirping of birds and dancing of withered winter flowers till you reach the Buddha temple in the heart of the village. Just above is my home where I was born 26 years ago.
I was returning home from my college for winter vacation, I took into taxi from Darjeeling at around 10 am, I could have done quite early but had something to buy for my family. It was late and I was worried whether I could catch a bus to Jitti border from PC Mital bus stand in Siliguri.
I know, you shall not curse the driver if you have travel via Makai Bari for his slow driving, instead sleep to avoid giddiness of the curves and turns of the queen of the hill, Darjeeling. As the taxi moved slowly I took a chance to pullout my book “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma. It was a nice book that took me away and even didn’t notice that I was running on the plains of Siliguri.
The warm air of plains provided a warm welcome note, and the driver as if excited moved his vehicle fast. But I was worried that I may not be able to catch a bus to Jitti border.
It was already 2pm and I just had 15 minutes to reach Mital bus stand, though quite hungry I planned to eat something inside bus itself.
I boarded on an auto rickshaw from Champasari and reached the bus stand on time. The bus was almost filled but luckily I got a seat near the driver.
It was annoying that the bus stopped on every little distance picking and dropping passengers. It was almost 3:15pm when we reached the Tista Bridge.
I was alone and bored, I thought of taking out my book but couldn’t as my bag was tightly tugged with other things, so I preferred to sleep, but couldn’t due to the bustle sound from the engine and a loud Bengali song.
Varieties of people, short, fat, thin, coming in and going out and an Indian lady beside me was snoring, taking onto my shoulder pretending as if in a deep sleep. Only the breeze was kind enough to give me a company over hot stinging rays of sun that stole its way through the broken window pane.
The day has lost the battle over the dark and it was almost 7:30pm when we reached Jitti border. Dark outside, nothing was visible except the lights from the faraway houses, that looked as if mourning for the loss.
A mild fear was moving inside my heart, I still had 15 minutes walk to reach my home. I was confused how to penetrate the darkness and reach home. Poor sighted guy and without any lighting system. I just kept hope on my mobile, but sad that it has consumed its battery to its fullest. With no option left I had to walk feeling the ground both with foot and hands. But I always took courage that it would improve once I reach the road, the white strip that leads to my home.
Walking under the cover of the darkness, nothing could be seen except the glow worm and somewhere the dogs barking and adding a music to the night.
With the name of the Lord vibrating over my lips and heart beating fast I could catch up that white quartz lined mining road.
Now, I needed no more light the white road was enough to lead me. I cursed the moon and the star and wished to scrub the darkness to get the light and prayed if I ever had a friend to walk together.
As if my wishes coming true, the moon was slowly marching on its way and stirred darkness to get the world to be seen, and like the answer to my prayers, a man was coming toward the road. I couldn’t make who he was, but felt, must be Ram Badhur kaka, guessing out from his customary old cough.
Exactly, it was him, returning home after having a drink from a neighbour’s house. He was kind enough to ask me if he could carry my heavy book leaden bag.
In a brief conversation, he said he has been away for some work and had just returned to village that day morning and shall be leaving soon for the same. He asked me everything about my life in Darjeeling and encouraged me to study hard.
There seemed a lot of changes in him; the way he talked to me and his generosity in helping me to carry my heavy bag. I know he was not such kind of person before. I felt that Ram Badhur kaka has changed a lot.
As we reached near my home, my dog came near crying and pushing me back, it was so kind that it missed me a lot. I got my bag collected and thanked him. He bade good night and asked to visit his house the next day.
The dog was still looking towards him and barking, but I could see him no more, perhaps he had walked over very soon.
I called my mother and she opened the door, she was surprised that I have walked all that way alone. She asked me if I could have called them, so brother would have come to get me down in the border. I told her that Ram Badhur kaka was with me from half way.
Before she could ask me for a diner, she poured a holy water over my head and asked me to drink it a little. After having something to eat, she asked me to offer pray in the alter room and have a sleep. She was murmuring with prayer. It was something unusual but I didn’t care. I was soon carried away by a deep sleep.
In the morning, my mom care near me and before asking anything about my college and my life, she asked “Was he Ram Badhur kaka, are you sure? Where did you meet him?”
After my brief explanation to her, she cried ‘that Ram Badhur kaka has died a week ago. He fell down from that cliff on the same place where you have met him last night.”
I couldn’t imagine anything, and thank god that it was best that I didn’t know that before…………………….