I left the others behind while they stood there discussing the condition of the road. The rocky hillock had a blanket of thick vegetation. A large rock rested precariously against a much smaller one threatening to roll down a bald spot. The uneven path beckoned with an eerie silence. From where it took a bend I could see a natural gateway of two boulders. There were tales of rocks hurling down all of a sudden. Or stories of cruising in air like missiles. We were in the Mayong region of Assam, famous for tales of black magic. And Sonoka is a village, tucked away that is accessible through a narrow dirt track ridden with pebbles and stones. The village opened out to the silvery wrinkled sheet of the Brahmaputra on one side. And on the other side a bow shaped hillock stretched out, shielding it from an outsider's gaze.
Last evening a friend had suggested Sonoka, a picturesque village here boasting of the perfect sunset. Amidst all the boisterousness of a school reunion, we decided to explore it on our way back. Walking through the gap between the two rocks now, I found a narrow dirt track snaking parallel to the silently flowing Brahmaputra. A lone egret watched from the periphery of an ancient forest. The room waiter last night had sworn that the people here no longer practiced the ancient art of black magic. Such spectacles were last seen almost sixty years ago. But there were whispers of sorcery.
If I hadn't been listening to stories, I would have found the nook perfect to spread a mat and watch the river endlessly or tread into the forest that held back from a distance. The silence was deafening. It was hard to believe that a city was growing helter-skelter, spilling over from its limits just forty kilometers away. The others had caught up with me by now. Just as I got into the first car, two men on bicycles appeared on either sides of the car. I had not noticed them before. One of them discouraged us vehemently from going ahead citing a dangerous ditch. The other stopped by my side and whispered not to listen to him saying no one trusted him in the village ahead. A scene from a comic book flashed. Two tiny creatures perched on either shoulders. One with a halo over its head and the other with a pitchfork.
Unheeding we drove down the dirt track confident of reaching that elusive Sonoka. Suddenly the cars almost bumped into each other. A wide deep ditch yawned from where we had halted. Heads with confused voices poked out of windows. It was going to be a while for the seven vehicles to reverse and turn around on the narrow lane. The sun was fast slipping into the waters. The cyclist who had cautioned us, stuck around to guide us through. I looked at the path on the other side of the ditch. Far away in the distance was the faint promise of a homestead of Sonoka. And a cyclist rode on without once turning back.
This post was written for TWTFOW#5