Caveat: The intention is not to malign the already infamous (for all the exaggerated reasons) green state. Let me assure you that it's not the way of life out here. It was an exception rather than the rule.
Heads Up: Many will find it hard to believe. Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn! It was a near-death experience for a split second for me. If this doesn't go on the blog, nothing ever does.
The longest minute of my life
Chapter 1. The backdrop.
It was 6.30pm and it was dark already. On my Apache, I saw two goods trucks moving parallely straight ahead in the left lane. The lane was blocked and there was not more than three feet of space between them. Honking, I manoevered my black babe through the space to overtake them both.
There they were. We call them 'tribals' - the adivasis. Yes, we are a tribal state and are proud to be one. But what happened today challenged those notions to the core.
Chapter 2. Jai Jharkhand.
There were Nagadas and they were dancing to their beats with traditional weapons - bows and arrows, thick bamboo sticks and other wooden ones - their ancestors used for their defence. The bike overtook a few and they shouted their guts out. There were abuses hurled and directions screamed - to block our way - from the ones behind to the ones ahead.
All I could hear from inside the helmet was "Kahan", "Nikal" and the choicest expletives. I knew at once I had made a horrible mistake.
Someone slapped my helmet real bad. Jhannnnnnnnnn!!! My hearing got impaired for a split second.
Chapter 3. Fear.
It was a long time since I was slapped this bad. Last time I recollect getting a blow this hard was my second year of engineering. I didn't have a helmet then. Today even the helmet couldn't suffice. Chills went down my spine along with the vibrations that followed. The helmet almost came off my head, blocking my vision. The bike lost the balance. Engine ignition still on for a while, it fell down with my right leg slightly trapped underneath.
If there exists a feeling called 'fear' - this was it, for the first time in my life.
All of them, a motley bunch of around 50 fanatics, came onto me from all the directions. The one in the blue (probably) shirt about six feet away was the deadliest. He snatched something lethal from the guy next to him and rushed towards me.
Chapter 4. The second one.
It was a three-feet, realllly thick weapon that seemed like wooden sword - only three times the normal girth.
"Bhaiya, bas nikal raha hun...pata nahi tha..."
"...pata nahi tha, bhaiya..."
"Chhod dijiye bhaiya...please bhaiya...bhaag raha hun..."
I was apologising non-stop - for the apparent sin I had committed. And there it was - the second blow...from behind!!
Chapter 5. THE Experience.
Directly on the back of my head, on the portion without the helmet, it was painful. Fat gayi thi!!
Had it been some other moment I would have given up. But something miraculous took over me. Something. The leg that was seemingly trapped under the bike, gathered courage from nowhere. I caught hold of the bike and stood up. Pressing the self-start button, I started fleeing away when the blue-shirt-guy took a shot with that insanely huge and dangerous weapon on the headlight. Instinctively, I turned the axle of the handle, shifted gears and acclerated. It was as close a shave as one can imagine.
I felt something pointed on back of my shoulders. I was pretty sure it was an arrow's tip. I thought I wouldn't be able to escape. Something really ugly was going to happen. I even thought - that very fraction of a second - that this was it...this was IT!!!
Chapter 6. The Discovery.
I turned around. I didn't see his face. All I saw was a pointed wooden stick - a really long one - whose one end was excruciatingly sharp and the other - lot thicker - was around four feet away (again, probably!) in his hand. It wasn't an arrow for sure but it hurt bad! I acclerated as much as I could.
I fled and the excellent shock absorbers helped through the rocky path. All psyched up, I covered some fifty metres when I turned back. I discovered something. Gaurav, my pillion rider all this time, was not there!!!!!
Chapter 7. The climax.
No expression in this world can ever describe that feeling! It was the worst moment of my life. I was stunned! I had to go back!
I took a U-turn. Believe me when I say this: Fifty years down the line, if I shall be proud of myself for anything, it will be for having done this. I was on the verge of peeing in my pants a few seconds back, figuratively, of course. But there was no time to think. The next few seconds brought to my mind all the shit in this world. I imagined everything that could happen to both of us. But I kept on moving. I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I had chickened out then.
And there he was, trying to call me up on his cellphone, safe and secure! He had got off the bike the moment it fell and had the presence of mind enough to get out of the scene. The biggest 'phew!!!!!' ever! Thank you, God! I love you!