Magnolia and Rhododendrons are in full bloom signalling the dawn of spring in Darjeeling, yet the chill and feel of winter haven’t gone. With the end of winter, encounters and conversations of the past cold months of winter have also begun to resurface and no it’s not about politics.
Travelling ladies and working husbands heave a sigh of relief. “Balla Dhukka Bhayo’ ‘Buda ley Ankha Lagaunae’ ra ‘Nani haru ley Kutai Khanae’ season ‘balla-balla janu atyoo ni haw’. A lady in her mid-forties explains, referring to the dark and shorter days of winters which had given rise in the number of ‘eye-putting’ cases.
Those having a jealous husband or wife at home would understand much better about the perils of those shorter days. It gets cold and dark very early in the hills and eerily at the just 4’o clock in the evening it seems like it’s already past 8 at night. The over jealous husband/wife sitting at home full of rage, shouts “ka moreko thiyiss”, raat pareko chal pawdainas”. “Haait! Anta chitto raat chai mailey po pareko hola, school ma geography padenau” shouts one at the receiving end of the quarrel. Shorter days and longer nights blanks the ‘geographical knowledge’ of the ‘eye-putting’ husband/wife and unnecessarily brings chaos into marital life.
With the gradual lengthening of daylight, the figure of ‘eye-putting’ cases falls down drastically on the stock exchange called – married life. This was how I assumed or comprehended from the words of wisdom spoken by the lady. The lesson of geography about Winter Solstice is thrown down the kitchen sink and what one read in the book of ‘eye-putting’ took over one’s minds and hearts, during the past months.
Children and tuition going teenagers’ too had to bear the brunt of their protective parent due to this phenomenon ‘yoi ho tero ghar posnae time’, and the cruder one ‘kaha muntey ko thiyis yeti bela samma’’ screams mother with ‘kuccho’ ready to strike at will, in her hand.
Nothing manifests the darkness in hills, more’ than the encounters of paying a visit to the public toilet in evening. The chill of the night makes the individual answer to nature’s call more than often and the urge to relieve oneself becomes more frequent if one has gulped ‘swatt-swatt’ the ‘Bhitri-Coat’ to beat the chill outside.
“Kaat-Kaat” parera hurriedly this individual paces to the loo, gets inside and is about to relieve; all of a sudden, a ghostly grunting sound comes from beneath… “Ahmmm…’’Hmmm…” meaning’…. hey dude i am beneath you, doing my job and you are about to pee on my head’.
The shortage of water makes visiting the public toilet hazardous too. In fact visiting a public toilet in the hills is a nightmare for the untrained ones, if you don’t believe me then visit the public toilet located at taxi stand in Darjeeling. The untrained ones have to hold their breaths and in course do their jobs at one go, otherwise they would faint with the acidic stench inside. Plus the untrained ones eye burn as it is difficult to see and do the job at the same time. So doing three things at the same time- holding your breath, closing your eyes and peeing at the same time is by no means a small feat, it’s a big achievement.
But for the trained ones it’s just a day at the office, these trained habituated people even light a cigarette and smoke easily even in the most hazardous of places and some calmly do their job ‘madding khaini’; some even have the audacity to whistle.
Brutal and frosty, but peaceful and tranquil days of winters are over; yet of all the winters I had experienced in my life, this winter seemed to be quite warmer but gloomier, outside as well as inside our hearts. Hopefully, with the advent of spring, the frostiness and indifference that has crept into our lives will slowly but surely melt.
Once again let the hills smile and so with it its people and if anyone dares to take away our smiles away, just make sure to take them to the nearest “public toilet” and lock them up inside!