Section 1: Days of peril


Charmed dinner


You killed me


My last stopover at Urvashi was on January 11, ’89 when the flight had landed at Guwahati airport in the dark hours of evening. The ethereal wife was imperceptible this time. Neither had I met her on the road nor in the hotel room.  On the morning of 12th a jeep arrived at the hotel around 10. It picked me up and moved fast for my next destination near Indo-Bangladesh border. It stopped before a tent in a dried up field of paddy near village Isamati, not very far from Cherrapunji. Sun was setting in misty western sky when the vehicle reached campsite of several tents. A couple of officers engaged in geological fieldwork of the area greeted me. I was there for evaluating their progress.

 Schedule at Isamati was pretty tight. Three hectic days among the rock-outcrops were for evaluating the progress of the team; and,   I was to drive back to Shillong in the early morning January 16 for a flight to Kolkata on my way back home to Dehradun.   I went to bed rather early in the night of 15, satisfied with the progress of work by the officers. Sleep was upon me no sooner I stretched myself in the bed. Someone enacted a drama in my dream after a few hours as a parting gift from Isamati camp.

A Khasi queen was standing in a black robe with a scepter in my nightmare. Courtiers flanked her on the left and right.  I saw myself in a kneeled down pose before the lady of the land as a person charged with crime.  Accepting my guilt before the queen, I told her to carry out her retribution and do what she wished. Her hand was up in the air with a shining dagger while a brutal expression was writ on her fair and charming face.

 “You know, you killed me once upon a time; it’s my turn now,” she muttered. Her hand with dagger moved down fast with force and   within seconds   her weapon was in my chest. Pangs of death shook me and a sea of pain sank me as she lifted her hand, leaving the shining dagger in my chest

 The queen had killed her murderer of past in revenge, and stood smiling while I was dying at the feet of her majesty sinking in pain.

 Shock, trauma and groan awoke me. To my relief, queen’s dagger was no more in my chest when I opened the eyes and jumped out of bed with a moan. Choked throat of the guilty of Kamrup queen remained in the same state for a few more minutes even after the nightmarish drama of traditional justice of Khasi people in the first millennium of the Christian era was over.

 Time was 3 O’clock in the radium dial of my watch. Horror in the dream was too real and my shaken nerves did not let me sleep again.

Unable to sleep, I got busy in preparing for my departure from the camp of Isamati.  My flight to Kolkata was in the afternoon from Umroi Airfield of Shillong.