When I left Kasi executing a plan of mine, not knowing at all that my exile would stretch for around a decade and counting, I had no idea that I would end up in Dimapur. There are not many people I know in my city who had ever taken of the name of either the state of Nagaland or its small town Dimapur. To be more precise, I must mention that in all the time I had spent in Kasi, I had known only one family who knew about that distant town, that too because one of the boys had a government job there and could manage a transfer back to his place of birth. Lucky him!
I had never intended or expected to be where I found myself in the month of May, nine years ago. I had not reached there straight from Varanasi. The last lap had started at Guwahati, from where I had caught a bus to Numaligarh, Assam. In my journey to Numaligarh I had seen the greenest landscape I had ever seen in my life. Although i had crossed the Khandala Ghats in the rainy season and that used to be the greenest landscape I had seen ever. The North-East changed all. From Numaligarh I took another bus for Dimapur and reached two and a half mile, Darogapathar on an auto. I did not know then that I was going to stay there for full three years.
The Apartment in which I spent the years I lived there had a wall sized window in the drawing room. What a view it was! The watercolour above can never do justice to it for two reasons: one, I’m an awful painter and two, the view changed with changing seasons and parts of the day. The only pukka construction in the semi-circle of a kilometre’s radius with the narrow road as the base was the compound in which we used to live. The area in which we lived had paddy fields and woods all around, with some houses interspersed. It was, as the name indicated, around two and a half mile from the main city across the Dhanashri river.
Sanjoy Dutta, my neighbour and friend due to whom I could paint even as bad as I do, became my friend because he was a student of Banaras Hindu university, just like me. The BHU alumni have this strong kind of bonding, especially when they meet away from their alma mater. Dutta was from Kolkata, and a painter, and I was from Kasi. He didn’t have many friends there, neither did I. On holidays and Sundays I used to go to the town for shopping, play cricket with many children and some grown ups in the compound, read or paint with watercolour. Sanjoy used to inspire me with his own painting activities. He used to paint landscapes too, and I used to paint only landscapes. My landscapes used to be from what I could see out of the window or my attempts at copying any painting that I liked from one of Sanjoy’s books.
There used to be a playground just as I looked out. The arbitrary line that separated the ground from the hut next to our compound, was marked by making a bamboo sticks hedge on it. There were only two milkmen around: one was Joseph’s father who used to live in the compound of the Nepali Church, and the other one lived in that hut. There used to be ponds and paddy fields after the hut, up to the road where the large white (Hollohon?) Church stood. A dense growth of trees made it impossible to see anything else from the window, other than the ranges of the hills that were at three different distances from us, signified by their colour ranging from green to blue. I can see, in the spot of clarity that some past moments retain, the patches of hills where bright sunlight used to fall to turn the green yellow. The sun used to rise from behind the hills and it used to set behind the paddy fields.
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