Yea, Uh huh, you know what it is Black and yellow Black and yellow Black and yellow Black and yellow
Well, this is no Wiz Khalifa song. This is the tale of Black and Yellow from TheTornScrapbook.
I was, maybe, fourteen or fifteen years old then. I had gone to visit my uncle during the summer vacations. He is a central school teacher in Arunachal Pradesh. He was posted in Tafragam village in Tezu in Lohit District. The place was a good seven to eight hours bus journey from Dibrugarh in the Arunachal Pradesh State Transport (APSTC) buses. The journey was an adventure in itself. It was a bus-boat-bus journey. Not a simple one though. Oh, you have to have an inner line permit to visit Arunachal Pradesh. You take the bus, which was as rickety as can be, deboard it at a place called Aloobari Ghat and take a bus that is waiting on the other end of the river Digaru. The river was called the ‘Mad River’ by the natives and strangely enough all the boatmen were migrants, either from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar.
I loved the boat ride with rain pouring from above and our meagre little boat tossing at the mercy of the swift currents of the crazy river below. 10-15 people were seated in the poor wooden boats with zero safety features along with their luggage. All was grey around and the water all muddy beneath. The boatmen were all deft in their acumen and confident that we would reach safely and hence, I was busy enjoying the scenery, putting my hands in the water and soaked to the skin. The boatmen kept on chanting “Dangoriya Baba Ki Jai” (Hail The Big One – Dangoriya being a local name for Lord Shiva) and we knew we will reach the other end safe and sound. So, by the time we reached Tafragam, we were all exhausted and it was already dark. By dark I mean, it was 5 PM in the evening.
My days in Tafragam were about just lazing around. No television, only radio. The teachers’ quarters were close to the school, small 1BHK, drab white and grey houses next to a big hill. There were around six or seven quarters and no other living soul in the distance of almost 3-4 kms. But, it was beautiful, serene, and again, very beautiful. It was like an emerald blanket – green forever. A steam guzzled by the houses where we used to splash all day long. The water was so clear you could see the pebbles and sometimes even fishes. I used to hang around at the stream all the time with my cousin, who was just six years then.
One day, when everybody was taking their afternoon naps, I and my cousin decided to go for a stroll. We always wanted to climb this hill as it was all green and beautiful and we had heard that there were many fruit trees. And moreover, we wanted to go up and see our milkman’s house. We called him Daju. It was breezy and lovely and exciting as we both did not inform anybody about our quest. I was in charge and this was my expedition. We took this trail leading to the upside of the hill and assuming it as the right one, we kept walking. My cousin was busy showing me the colourful flowers in the grasses and every time she saw something she would go, “Badi Didi, see this pink flower”, or “Badi Didi see that white flower”. “See this! See that!” She was hopping ahead of me when she asked, “Badi Didi, what is that yellow-yellow thing? There is some black too.” I very casually thought it would be the black and yellow banded krait (snake) taking a stroll in the grasses. They are very common in the area.
But, I could have never been so wrong. It was not black and yellow bands, it was black and yellow stripes with yellow eyes, sitting and staring at us. I had a kid with me and all I could think was that I am going to be killed at home. Not killed, there and then, but killed at home. I whispered to my cousin “Run”. It was more of a “Jai Mata Di. Let’s Run”. All that was playing in the back of my mind was – “Tiger, tiger burning bright. We are going to get eaten in the daylight!” Fortunately, the tiger was least bothered to chase us. Maybe it liked us, or maybe it was lazy, or maybe it had just eaten. It didn’t even bother to roar. I am just thankful it did not eat us that day.
The tiger did not hurt anybody and probably went deep into the jungles as nobody complained of a missing cow or a person. But, I got the scolding that was way painful than getting eaten by any tiger. Ah! happy old days. *Sighs*.
P.S. You got to taste the fresh water fish preparations in the local eateries at Aloobari Ghat and in winters there were no boats but army-made air bridges. They were fun too. Almost the whole river dries up and there are jujuba trees all over the place which you can pluck and eat anytime. Now there are concrete bridges coming up. So, *shrugs*!