The plan was to leave Imphal early and halt at Dimapur. Accordingly, the ORH in Dimapur was reserved. KB Singh had volunteered to pilot me out in the morning to the highway. I was ready for the promised 5.30 am start. It was so misty that I had problems seeing the road. And I lost the pilot. We reestablished contact through the mobile and got to the highway without any further problem. Having done the Kohima-Imphal leg less than 72 hours ago, I knew the condition of the road. The mist lifted quickly and I made a good run to Kohima. The Hornbill festival was to start today and I was apprehensive that I would get entangled in the traffic. By 10 am I was just a few kms away from Kohima. I called up Fr Johnny and dropped in at the St Mary’s School (nearly 1200 students) to have a cup of tea with him. He was busy with the results of the junior classes. A half hour break filled with amusing conversation with Fr Johnny (on the disappearance of birds, animals and insects in the NE, eating anything that moves, feasting and corruption as a way of life, etc.) and I was on my way again.
Fortunately, except for a 15 minute hold up at a landslide location I had a free run to Dimapur. It was apparent that I would be in Dimapur by 1 pm. And I knew that the road to Dergaon would not take me more than 3 hours. I quickly rescheduled the program to halt at Dergaon once gain. I called up Mr Surinder Kumar, the Principal of the PTC, and he readily agreed to accommodate me in the Officers’ Mess, even though he himself was away from HQ. He suggested that I take the Numaligarh route to Dergaon and look up a 10th century temple ruin at the Deoparbat Archeological site. It is a steep and strenuous climb of 200 steps up a hillock. The site is being managed by the Assam Archeological Department. Work is on to document the pieces and set them in as accurate a manner as possible to reconstruct the temple. The rock carvings are interesting. Some designs on the pieces of rocks and their size reminded me of the Angkor Wat temples.
Young school going kids with innocent, smiling faces are a promise of a better tomorrow, irrespective of how convulsive the todays are. I wonder what goes through the minds of the UG activists when they see these buds that we have to facilitate to blossom. Will they want their own kids to live a today that holds no promise of a tomorrow? ‘Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you’ is a biblical quote. It is also a touchstone of how we live our lives. To accept this maxim as a central principle in one’s life requires a strong conscience, and to accept the presence of conscience is to accept that God leads you on through every moment in your life.
The sight of working fuel stations is a matter of comfort (the daily newspapers in Imphal, apart from the horrific news of extortions, kidnappings and killings, publish ‘Petrol News’ and ‘Gas News’ – a guide as to which fuel station and gas agency is likely to function). I did not fuel up in Manipur, for most of the fuel on sale is adulterated. I understand that the adulterators use kerosene, yellow paint and ‘Zero’, a product imported from Burma to make the adulterated fuel look as close to the original as it can be. I heard stories of how cars have been ruined by regular use of the adulterated fuel. I tanked up in Dergaon for the trip to Tezpur and Itanagar.
A few strong shots of Mechin were the right antidote for a tiring and tension filled day behind the wheels.