|Air Traffic Control Tower|
Utopia... that,s what i felt when i first joined the airport.
I used to watch from my tower as the tiny ATR offloaded its passengers..and reloaded itself and most of the days the half empty ATR took off in the air from the deserted airport. A longing to be home..away from this land locked island..I breathed away my wish in the gusting wind engulfing the tower, gather my things together to go down, winding up the day,s job after the lone plane of the airport takes off. Few offcial letters , routine replies, routine data entry into the computer..routine jobs..routine smiles but outside office premises nature greets you with her open arms..some days a rainbow would glisten in the fresh rain drenched sky..some days the cows would bathe in the water logged fields..nothing routine about this world, a silent world..content with its simple undemanding dwellers..dwellers who haven,t robbed off all the wealth from her, dwellers who have guarded her,protected her against outsiders and chose to live a quiet merry life..life within these hills.
I waited for the local market day, colourful market with so many facets..a day when the village is busy with all the hustle bustle..village roads are full of vehicles...a day for whom I,ve learnt to wait whole 8 days....to get my fill of fruits, vegetables and fish for the week. It is almost like a festival for the villagers and soon I was caught in the spirit as well.. happily munching pineapples and oranges with the deadly local chilly powder with my colleague, packing different types of sweets available fried in God-knows-what oil, missing altogether 2-3 hours of office....(not to be mentioned of course)
Happiness has a little price to pay, this colourful market with fresh vegetables , lures me..makes me plan my entire week ' food programme' , strange but in this land where a proper grocery shop isn,t available in the near 4-5 kilometres, no goodies ,the vegetables are refreshingly fresh and seem garden plucked.I loaded my bags with vegetables, goodies, toys for my toddler..look around for some lift, if anyone is there with vehicle..try to shove in the over loaded bags..and don,t mind walking the lovely stretch with a packet of pineapple in hand and my dear colleague accompanying me.
The magic did wear off..like everything else..this place was losing its exquisiteness..it was just one of those small villages in our country..where newspapers did not reach except for a local one which some days found its way to the local shops..Khasi language in english script, one of those villages where children walked miles in search of a school,where nearest hospital is some 20 km away..where few vehicles (Tata Sumos) run with people hanging behind as means of public transport,where girls went to the river for washing clothes,where children collected drinking water from roadside taps..huddle containers of water in make shift carts..where men drank in evening and night..where concept of street light is totally redundant..where women gave birth to half a dozen babies within the four walls of home..wherein within the long stretch of unpaved road..if any little shop you could find would definitely have 'kowai' (local betel nut) if not any trace of other bare necessities of life..
In this land I stood partly disillusioned partly grounded..partly lonely wondering if I was missing out on life where..but then what I was missing out on..a fiercely competitive manipulative professional life in the city..where relationships even if manage to find a place, longevity gets shorter..nothing survives here save a hunger for success..and a family life..where baby husband maid parents friends all strive for a place and I long for space and continue with a super balance act. And here in this land one can have all the space one longs for and more..so much space that loneliness creeps into the soul in one form or other.. That,s it then..solitude and bliss turning to hard hitting loneliness from which there is no respite..there I go.. sounding frustrated , lonely lending substance to the term ' tenure' or ' unpopular posting'. The lush green of August has given way to a hazy dusty February..where spring is hardly tangible wrapped in warm sunny days and cool chilly nights.The hills seem to long for rains, pine trees looking high in the sky..and to me the magic of the hills do not work any more..like magic of new found love giving way to routine indifference..a nonchalance owing to the loneliness bug digging into the soul..the Wanderlust giving way to a longing for ' home'
Utopia.... it was.