It is 2 am on 2nd September 2021. Millions of thoughts about should haves and what if's in my head and these thoughts were like an op-amp with output connected to a non-inverting terminal. Yes, the thoughts were oscillatory, only increasingly troubling me. I have to get up from bed to freshen up for my journey latest by 4 am. My home is in one of the remotest parts of India. It's called Kolbong, a remote hamlet unknown to people and in Darjeeling District of Gorkhaland state(A fictional state created in the minds of people by politicians during elections and after elections it becomes an administration within a state until the next election). We only have one "service taxi" that connects the nearest Airport/Railway station which is 6-7 hours away. So, normally it starts from my place at 5 am and reaches Siliguri(the nearest big city) @ around 11 am. Yeah, life is tough in my place. We don't have hospitals nearby, pathetic roads, no employment opportunities, People here have hundreds of things to whine about. Because we have nothing! Yet we have smiling people who make their ends meet with their hard work and grit.
As I close my eyes, I recollect waking up at @5am and having to catch a vehicle @6am to school. I was probably 7-8 Years old. If I miss that vehicle, I would have to walk to school which was 8km away. I used to reach school at 7 am and open up the pancakes(Gilo roti as called in Nepali) that my Aama(Grandma)used to make for me and eat it half because I had nothing else to do. The school started only @ 8:40 am so I had all the time in the world to do mischiefs in the school. Coming back from school would be the best part. I had a group of friends(most of whose names I have forgotten now) with whom we had to walk back a journey of 8km to home. Coming back I barely used to get a ride. If we hear vehicle engine roaring it would be only in chayote(Iskus) ripening season and there would be Mazda and pickups. So we had to wait at potholes where the vehicles would slow down so that we hang on the back of it without the knowledge of the driver. An 8-year-old kid doing that when I think back now is pretty impressive.
My thoughts jump to the first day in Don Bosco Boarding(DBB). I was greeted with a middle finger at the dining hall table during dinner by another boy (this boy turns out to be one of my best friends to date). And the funny part, In my previous school and my peer group. We never used middle fingers. So, I was completely unaware of what it meant. So, I showed him back my middle finger thinking that it was a way of greeting a newbie! Fast forward to days in DBB where I made my best buddies. Sang, danced, played, lost, cried, got scolded, got best slaps, got best love letters, got first childhood unfiltered love, got bullied(this is obvious, everybody goes through this. So, I would cherish this instead of seeking sympathy. It made me stronger.), A lot of images popping in my head one by one. I realize at this moment that we live in such a marvelous creation. We have earth, our world. Then we have Another world, where millions of thoughts can pop up.So, for a single person we are living in two worlds. One when we open our eyes,another when we close them.
Back to the room, I look up and see the portrait of my Aama and Baba (Grandma and Grandpa). I miss them a lot at times and this is one of the times. I see a photo of me and my sister, I know I will miss her whining and everything she makes me mad about. It is 3 am and I hear activities in the kitchen. My mom is already awake and is probably preparing for my last meal at home. I don't know how will I ever thank my mom and dad. A billion, trillion, or even more thank you's are also less. People may think that I worked hard and am in this position. No doubt, I did what was necessary at whatever instant I was in and yes I did work for it. But, My parents parallelly worked in their own way to at least give me a chance to "work hard". Go to google maps and copy-paste "27.115295777420524, 88.18382754019416" this latitude and longitude. It is not easy for a person from this place to dream of studying in other parts of India, Let alone Italy!
My mom had already woken up and was preparing the last breakfast that I would have at home before leaving for Italy. I could see from her eyes that she was not the happiest, Even I was not happy either. I am leaving my home to go to a place thousands of km away and with an uncertainty of when I will return. I gulp two roti's and it is raining heavily outside. My sister is accompanying me to Siliguri. I seek blessings from my sweetest "Maili fupu"(My dad's sister) and since it was raining so couldn't say goodbyes to my relatives who happen to be my neighbors. I carefully walk down the swampy kutcha road towards the honking of the service taxi. The driver, Chetan dada telling me to hurry up since he is on the roof of his refurbished taxi. I pass him the luggage and my seat happened to be on the back. A front faced Tata sumo back seat, people from my region can relate to the difficulty of getting in and out. I climbed to the seat in a haste and I realized that I wanted to hug my mom but I didn't. I bid her goodbye from the window and I could see the despair in her eyes.
Goodbyes are never sweet. I swallowed the grief and masked it with a smile. I tried to capture in my mind every picture of the mountains that I could see around and memories of the past was still playing like a movie in my head as I am trying to have a regular nap in the taxi. I had put an alarm at 8 am and told the driver to remind me when we reach Jorebunglow where I had to meet my friend and give something to him.
Reached Jorebunglow, saw my friend with an umbrella waiting for me. We exchanged smiles and thumbs up and he too had a package to give me. so it was like a drugs exchange. Reached Siliguri, where half of my luggage was in another friend's place. It took some time for me and my sister to weigh my luggage and arrange it properly. I had to sacrifice my electronics hobby boards and leave them back as there was no space in the bags for them.