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“Oi Bujhchhos… Aamra Aabar Dibrugarh Aaiya Gesi”

“Oi Bujhchhos… Aamra Aabar Dibrugarh Aaiya Gesi”

two friends

They heckled the bus conductor for two good seats, not at the back of the bus, and paid half the fare, but did not bargain for the tickets… who needed tickets anyway…” and eventually returned to Dibrugarh!

When you manage to stumble to the final year in medical college, you actually don’t remember how the days pass by in attending lectures, clinics, tutorials, extra classes and the works, with very little fun quotient left in your life.

By the time you decide to enjoy the luxury of a stifled yawn, it is time to appear for the last semester exam, prior to the final MBBS, with practically no time to prepare.

Five papers in five days, and not necessarily there is a syllabus. If you want to become a doctor, you cannot be selective in what you study.

One has to literally bat furiously in the death overs to manage a decent score‑ with fifty being the cutoff ‑unlike in other professional courses, where you can cross the line with less marks.

And so it happened that semester, which as predicted by all and sundry, we slogged like slaves with no Abraham Lincoln in sight.

Dibrugarh was a sleepy town those days and the population was largely divided into two sections, namely doctors and those who weren’t.

Almost like muggles and the half bloods.

As we stayed in the other part of Dibrugarh, we often made the mistake of appearing for our papers on wrong days at wrong times.

It was on more than one occasion that we arrived at the examination hall a full 24 hours ahead.

Yet, in spite of all the stress and strain, the final semester was special.

A lady opened the door to us at her house. She gave us a bed to sleep on, which must have been from the time of Lachit Borphukan, my ancestral commander of the Ahoms, say 17th century, and the mosquito net could be from the time of Lord Clive!

The events that unfolded remain as cherished memories of a simple life enriched in an unspoiled environment with varying experiences, still managing to bring an un suppressed smile to an otherwise lopsided grin following multiple dental restorations.

Blessed as it was then, it has percolated to heart warming nostalgia today. These will last forever.

That entire past week, we had not slept, feverishly preparing for the exams and as the last paper was submitted, I made up my mind to go home, to Guwahati for a couple of days on a short break.

Shivkumar, my batchmate and close friend, demanded that he sleeps for the next three days, but I vetoed it.

It was warm as we boarded the night super bus in our Bermuda and polo neck vests, with chappals and an overnight bag each, all articles having once seen better days.

In spite of the tiredness, we didn’t fail to haggle with the conductor for a better seat at a half price of the fare, for which a ticket was not issued.

I had a fifty rupee note in my pocket left after the paying fare but Shivkumar didn’t have even that.

His only possession was a plastic container which had tobacco on one side and lime on the other.

Princely Dinner

We had a ‘princely’ dinner, sharing a parantha and tea.

Back up on the bus, we settled in our seats and with the bags thrown somewhere, and we fell fast asleep, even before the bus started on its journey.

A couple of hours later on the outskirts of Sibsagar, we were rudely awoken by members of a newly formed committee which hounded ticketless travellers.

We were asked a lot of questions about ourselves. But being an avid quiz enthusiast, Shivkumar bamboozled the inspectors in the middle of the night with stories how his ancestors crossed the Hindu Kush mountains to settle in Mithila.

Or thus he detracted them!

I looked at him fervently, pleading with my bloodshot eyes, not to reveal our real ancestors, now confined to zoos.

The officials ‑not knowing what to do with two unkempt grown up boys who pretended to be medical students‑ finally yielded and let us go, with a warning, recording our names and addresses.

We both gave the inspectors the names of our class toppers and their addresses.

We perched back on our seats cross-legged, our co passengers vowing to tutor their children how not to become like us.

The bus sped off and the cool breeze was like a lullaby, cradling us into a dreamless sleep.

After some time we could sense the bus had stopped somewhere.

It’s axle had broken, and it wouldn’t budge an inch.

We were on the highway somewhere between Jorhat and Dergaon.

I didn’t have a watch and Shivkumar had sold his, a week back to buy two bottles of beer.

We decided to get down.

We took our bags but had to spend another ten minutes searching for our chappals.

Finally we disembarked, wearing strange pairs of footwear which were not ours at all.

We smiled to each other, thinking what our co passengers would narrate next to their children back home.

We walked along the highway and found a path leading to a small Assam-Type house.

A slight drizzle was on and we sat on the verandah, the intoxicating smell of moist soil coaxing for more sleep.

Shivkumar fell asleep on the verandah, as I looked into the darkness, my thoughts as clear as the tuneful notes of the cicadas.

A lady opened the door with a night lamp.

I mumbled tiredly that we needed to rest for the night and would leave at the crack of dawn.

She guided us into a room with a bed and a mosquito net.

We hurriedly cambered on to the bed.

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The pillows were as new as last used by Lachit Borphukan, my ancestral commander of the Ahoms, say 17th century, while the mosquito net might have been Lord Robert Clive’s!

The moldy smell made us itch in various places but we scratched ourselves to sleep.

We couldn’t afford to care.

We woke up to the chirping of the birds. It was still dark as we both went to the backyard for a wash and a bath.

We brushed our teeth, lazily staring at the dark sky. The wall clock said it was 6.30 am.

Daybreak or Night?

The lady was lighting a lamp near the Tulsi plant. And then we panicked. We realised we had slept the whole day and it was evening.

I panicked more because I had promised to call my girlfriend from the PCO.

She didn’t believe a word I said and hung up, thankfully though, as I was coming to the end of my last rupee. I couldn’t call home.

We had a hurried meal, thanked our benefactors and borrowed some money, promising to return the same by post, but they simply nodded and smiled.

The cowherd who stayed with them, escorted us to the main road and flagged down a bus.

He didn’t listen to us, neither asked where we intended to go.

Shivkumar shared his tobacco with him and they seemed to be friendly.

The cowherd told us to be quiet and spoke in rapid bursts to the conductor, who took our bags and gave us a couple of seats at the back.

We fell asleep, once more, thinking of good meals, a clean bed, movies and fun once we reach Guwahati.

The bus sped on as we listened to Zubin Garg on the speakers, happy that we were finally going home.

At around five in the morning we woke up to the first rays of the sun.

Zubin was silent.

The bus was stationary.

I looked around.

Shivkumar was rubbing lime on his palm and trying to mix the tobacco. ‘Oi bujhchos… Aamra aabar Dibrugarh aaiya gesi’ (Hey, we are back to Dibrugarh once again).

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