Atypical Bomdo EveningBy Kartix
The day was bright, unlike all the other days in this year. Its already April and four months into the year, we only just today had the sunniest day of the year. Its not like any other years too, March and April often pack in enough sunlight to make you miss the chill of the winter. But here at Bomdo, we had rains, lots of it, out of place perhaps, surely out of time. Sunny days come here rare; so I do the chores, wash up all my clothes, socks especially and the unmentionables. The day is spent mostly reading Murakami's 'Kafka on the shore' and for only the second time ever I am hungover with a book. The previous time I had read 'East of Eden' by Steinbeck and felt a pang. I was alone too, in a secluded Inspection Bungalow in Boleng town in West Siang but thats another story. Kafka on the shore left me with a feeling much deeper and intense and I decided to take the day off to meditate over the book and to do chores.
Evening comes by and just an hour before the sun dips into the hills, I head to the local shop that opens duly at 4 pm. Its closed. So instead I play cricket with the local boys, am not a big fan of the game but what the hell, any excercise in sport here can only do me good. Thats where the atypical day begins, not just because it was the sunniest day of the year but because of the events that follow up. I am not too good at cricket too, but today was different, I am usually a better bowler than batsman. I batted for an entire twenty minutes, the local boys trying their off-spins, leg spins and the occasional fast ball, but in vain they can't get me out. There are bowlers too who before bowling proudly announce, three off spin balls and three leg spin ones are coming at you. Whats subtle is that the actual spin of the ball is decided by which tiny stone on the pitch the ball is going to hit! I take a pause to see what the other local boys are doing, they are immersed into a game of housie, how did this game ever get here. This is what I wonder even in towns like Jenging and Yingkiong. These are places which have only in the last few years recieved cell phone network, but these towns have had snooker parlours for longer! And so in my village that has no network, people play housie, the scene doesn't definitely fit in, but I take it in, smiling at how a typical Bomdo evening can be, full of surprises and new thoughts and realisations. Just as I think this an old man walks casually close to the field with a boar on his back. It reminded me of Asterix & co. He had hunted boar from the forest that adjoins the village, and was walking with it strung to his back as though he had bought some ham from the local meat shop. However I understand he had put in a lot of effort into this, he went to a place called Dicheng which is at least an eight hour trek from the village for me.
Army, my field assistant sends a leg cutter meanwhile, and I drive, an on-drive, its a four by the looks of the shot. While the ball is collected, I look at the local children, all of them immersed too in the game of housie in which a wheel is spinning. Nyelik's three year old daughter spins me a look and a smile and I take a moment to see how beautiful she is and also wonder about the resemblannce between Nyelik and his daughter, hang on, the next ball is here, oops I get the outer edge and a catch and finally get out, to my relief too. Minutes later, I am bowling, and take a wicket or two I can't remember.
After the game, I head to Bonggar's house, he was cross with me that I hadn't visited him since November, unintentionally of course, I was immersed in my field work and the other days in thoughts damp with the torrential rain. I was tired too, but it looked like more tired were my field boots and pants. The expensive field gum boots I picked up from Bangalore had a hole in them, so water would seep in and dampen the socks, much to the delight of the leeches whose season begins just about now. My field pants too tore yesterday, indicating and implying to me that field season is over, lets go home. But unfortunately for my field gear, I need to spend another two months in the village before I get a break. Anyways, back in Bonggars place, I stepped in for tea but had to settle for rum. And with the rum, dried venison which tastes awful, but the protein is good, so i dunk it in. Bonggars folks are immersed in a Television soap played courtesy of Tata Sky. I was thinking what a contradiction it is that we don't have phone network in the village but television plays like theres been no yesterday. Anyways, drink done, snack done, I head back to the Inspection Bungalow (IB) where I sleep. A tastier meal awaits me there.
When I reach, theres a bunch of boys working for the Electrical Department making merry and singing songs. Theres twelve of them and I call them the Inglorious Basterds. They get along very well with each other though almost every one of them hails from a different place. And they have a beautiful lingo going between them, someones calling the other a dog to be called pig by the other in turn. Phonetically it makes the IB a lively place, for me thats a welcome change, since the other months I have spent here, evenings have been full of sounds of either wind or the rain or things from trees bouncing off the tin roof that the IB has. The other good thing is they cook for twelve people anyway so I join them happily and eating with a bunch of people is something I miss here in the IB too.
After the meal, I zip into my sleeping bag and write this. What a typical Bomdo evening!
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