19 August 2017.
Probably ‘Happy Birthday! call’
Hello baini, Darjeeling ma bomb blast bhayo! said the caller.
‘What the….? Anyone dead? How many injured?’ I uttered.
The phone got disconnected.
Then I tossed and turned. I couldn’t sleep. I was getting many birthday calls. I couldn’t respond. I was shaken up. I had never heard of blast in Darjeeling after I was born.
2 am… and eyes wide open. My dog scratches its body making annoying noise in my metal gate.
I somehow passed out to open my eyes at 7 am. My phone started ringing.
So many calls after that.
Off to work around 2 pm after a whole lot of family drama.
Internet restriction in the hills has badly hit the reporters along with others. Besides using twitter and Instagram, attaching and mailing documents are our priority. Gmail!
The swifts make a rapid fly above us and the frogs harmonise a symphony below. We stand in a different hill that is elevated from the ground.
Heaven gently opens up to shower us the magical droplets of love.
This is Carmichael ground, recently renamed as ‘jio-dara’ where people from all backgrounds are found fiddling with their phone.
This gets so interesting to recall the days when we lazily sat on the couch the whole day spending time on our phone or laptop-updating statuses, posting pictures in Instagram and sharing the same in facebook again. We used to switch from one app to another for hundred times!
The elders at home must be very glad with the idea of internet-ban because you respond to their call-for-dinner immediately these days. Else they call us for the fifth time and we were found chatting with someone in whatsapp .
Our habits have been changed after 18th June, when the government undemocratically blocked the internet service in the hills.
So on 19th August, after riding back from chitray, I met my co-workers who were waiting for me in Carmichael ground.
Greetings and blessings were received in abundance. Then they sang me a birthday song. Meanwhile, three of us (one photographer, one filmmaker and I) got isolated just to take few parched gulps of Jacob’s creek. What’s more beautiful than a bottle of wine in twilight with gentle breeze?
I’m yours, Jason Mars to more than words with an amazing instrument-Ukulele.
Luckily it was Saturday and my day-off.
It turned darker. Songs, dance, and wine made a good combo.
We all dispersed towards home in a very good mood.
A set of friends waiting for me to knock the door so that the already intoxicated people could raise a toast in the name of my birthday. It was 8:30 pm when birthday was sung in a small, neatly arranged room. My sister had taken the effort to ruin it the next day.
By the time wine was over I started strumming guitar for sometime. Then we sat and talked about the agitation that has been heading aimlessly towards a state of chaos.
Starting from day 1 of the indefinite shutdown, I narrated the story till the firing that happened in Kalimpong after the miscreants torched the wine shop on 5th July.
‘The S.P along with other police have been…’
I was stopped by the sound of an explosion.
I called my sources to find out that the blast was in the police station.
It was a grenade blast!
This agitation took so many arsons, vandalisms, lives and injuries to reach towards an unexpected incident of grenade explosion.
This became a very sensitive issue, rather a controversial one.
What actually happened, no body knows!
The 5W’s and 1H of journalism was tickling me from within.
I had to know.
I had to find it out.
‘Hello? One civic police dead. His name-Rakesh Raut’ my source said.
‘What??’ Shit! No!
What exactly happened? How did it happen? Are people okay there? I asked.
‘No, two are injured, others are okay, I had to carry Rakesh on my shoulder and run to the hospital, he was declared brought dead’ He replied.
Goodnight.’ I hung up the call.
What’s happening here?
Why is it happening?
Why so much of violence?
Why to take innocent’s life that way?
It was 11:45 pm when I started collecting informations to send it to my newspaper.
I got more than 12 calls in between. Some called to give informations and some to receive.
‘Urgh, not again!’
Hello? I said.
‘Hey, happy birthday, sorry I’m late’ he said…
‘Something is more important than birthday.’ I said.