This is from my recent visit to Santhal Pargana.
I comfortably took a seat by one of the front rows of the bus. Since it was a hilly area and the ride would be bumpy, I praised myself for the good decision. It was a window seat and I would be sightseeing all the way, I said to myself. I was carrying a bag, which contained a camera and some cash, apart from some clothes. I slipped it in front of my seat.
The bus would have moved half a kilometre when the occupant of the seat next to me appeared with his son. He was a tribal. Given the location I was in, I couldn’t have expected a better co-passenger.
It would have been impolite to not talk to my fellow passengers. Soon I learnt quite a many things about them. Although they were too shy to ask anything from me except my destination. The son was having an unexplained disease and they were going to Dumka to see a doctor. Their Hindi was poor and this was what I could make out.
Soon the bus was full. The conductor explained that most of them are going to the Kathikund Shivratri Fair. Passengers were struggling to stand straight. Men and women of various shapes and sizes boarded the bus. Women were dressed in bright colours and carried kids on their laps. Since the returning bus was in the evening, they were carrying some eatables along with them. Thankfully goats and sheep were not giving us company this day.
Tired of observing my co-passengers, I looked outside my window seat. There was greenery everywhere. Mango trees in full bloom lined the roads. Palash and Gulmohur coloured the atmosphere with their bright orange and fiery red flowers. Small earthen pots tied atop Palm trees would store the dripping liquid and be consumed by the Santhalis as toddy. People came out of their houses with smaller kids waving at us.
We were meandering through the hills and the plains were nowhere in sight. I was worn-out of my journey here only a day ago and didn’t know when I fell asleep. I woke up with a loud gurgling sound from closeby.
It turned out that the boy sitting next to me had vomited.
Don’t remember how mine smells but this one smelled ghastly. God knows what this kid had been eating.
Rightly said that you are faced with things that you most dislike. Once a drunk friend puked in my room and I made him to sweep the entire floor at that very time. He still remembers me for that incident.
I heaved a sigh of relief to find that not even a drop of the fluid had spilled on me. With my legs on the seat, I asked this man to let me go out. But thanks to his poor Hindi, he wasn’t able to understand.
Two more requests and I was still sitting there. Now I had to show some urgency. Also the contents were fast moving towards my bag. I raised my voice and asked him to make way. The passengers, who until now were quite oblivious of this development, translated my request to this man.
I came out safely. I asked the person sitting in front to drag my bag from the mess. Both of us were safe now. But I had to travel the remaining part of the journey without a seat.
Later, while I was waiting for the local train at Sitarampur, a man asked me all of a sudden.
“Bhaiya, the doctor has asked me to take this medicine, but now I am feeling a vomiting sensation. Shall I vomit”.
Hey Bhagwan, would all of them vomit near me only. I ran from there before this man would have puked.
And here’s about Santhal pargana: