O Bhaity !!!

India has gained independence and atmosphere varied from ecstatic to routine depending where one lived. Sadiya, a  town bordering  NEFA was one such remote location. It was 7:39 PM of August 15 1950 when the tremors hit the northern hills of undivided Assam.

Kaling, aged around 14 years, came to Sadiya High School to continue his studies from his village Dambuk. India has just emerged from the shackles of colonialism and stories of festivities did reach to people in Sadiya. Kaling has come to Sadiya a couple of months back with the starting of the session in June. Kaling heard so much about Sadiya which was considered next to capital city of undivided Assam Shillong but everything will change forever on this day.

Kaling has not seen city life and was trying to adjust to life in Sadiya. He came alone leaving his hamlet, leaving his parents who were farmers, his many siblings of whom he liked her elder sister Yayi who has encouraged him to study further and not remain a small time villager. Of eight of his sibling Kaling had a urge towards studying and he underwent a lot of hardships to reach to this level changing schools very often as their were no teachers in the Primary and Middle ones close to villages. Sadiya would solve all these problem and he wanted to devote his time completely into studies. Yayi was in village and very soon as others was supposed to find someone and get married. Pasighat was another place which was probably smaller than Sadiya but she wanted to find someone who can take her there. She used to dream about sending her kids like Kaling to schools and she hoped that reaching Pasighat will ensure that for her kids.

Kaling had the habit of waking up early as everyone would in the land of rising sun. The district administration has asked all the schools to conduct “Prabhat Pheri” to commemorate the Independence Day with Flag Hoisting Ceremony at around 8 AM in the morning. Kaling heard from his other Adi friends in the hostel that refreshment provided after Flag Hoisting are quite tasty.

Kaling woke up a little earlier due to the excitement and joined “Prabhat Pheri”. That morning was little cold with fog even in month of August but there were lot of people who have gathered. The slogans that had played such major role in Independence have reached to this part of India and everyone was joyously shouting “Inquilab Zindabad”, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai”. Kaling joined the chorus, unfortunately he was trying to learn two new languages Assamese as well as Hindi and  always his brain used to create a heady cocktail mixing both the languages  and making it difficult for him to make sense. Even then he continued waiting for the sweets that he was told about. In his village they used to eat  fruits from the natural orchards only and he was excited hearing about “Jalebi” which he wanted to try for the first time.  Flag was hoisted and mood was festive, sweet distribution started and Kaling did get his “Jalebi” but it didn’t meet his eagerness and excitement and he still liked the fruits they used to eat from their natural orchards.

Since there were no classes that day, Kaling had nothing much to do. At 6 PM which was the dinner time everyone in the Hostel were standing in a queue around the mess. On the occasion pork was being served but Kaling kept his expectations down as jalebi had not met his expectations. After the dinner some of his friends were  discussing remembering their villages and people. Kaling was always homesick but he never used to show it to others.

Everyone in the hostel starting going to bed around 7:15 PM, people in hills and villages start early and end early their day.  Kaling was in lightest sleep state when he felt a big sudden jolt and thundering sound. He woke up and was not sure if it was a dream but when he saw people running around he know something has happened. The earth shook for 8 minutes continuously. Hostel warden Munindra Saikia rushed to the dormitory and asked everyone to vacate the hostel right now. All the hostel mates were moved to big playground in Shantipur.

Kaling was afraid of his dreams, his family back home. He wanted to be there in village helping everyone but he was not aware that it was he who was in danger. The mighty tributaries of Brahmaputra have been blocked due to landslides and mountains toppling like a pack of cards. The very next day when these natural lakes created, broke, a deluge hit Sadiya which  wiped it out completely from the map as it was known to the history. Kaling heard that his school and hostel was all submerged under the waters of the river now. Kaling was not sure if Sadiya will be same ever again and with no news of his family, his village and his Sadiya he was staring in the big unknown that lay ahead of him  and his life.

He could hear a voice calling from a distance “O Bhaity…O Bhaity !!!!”

[My First Short Story, Please help me with your comments and suggestions]

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