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E-Pao! EI - Menace of 13th Friday and Gods Gift

Menace of 13th Friday and Gods Gift

By: J.P. Sinha *



My father had purchased a piece of land in Jiribam, when he was posted there during 1968-69. Afterwards since he opted for the central services, he was posted to various places and ultimately he called it his day and purchased a plot with his retirement benefits at Guwahti and settled there. So this plot of land remained unattended for a long time. When I moved in to Imphal owing to my Job, my mom asked me to go over to Jiribam and look up the plot.

It was in the August of the year 1993, that I planned a visit to Jiribam. Since leaves were hard to come by I decided to take two days casual leave on Friday and Saturday, so that I can come back on the Sunday. It happened that one of my friend's dad was a retired SDO of Jiribam. So I invited my friend (Indra) along with me as he would be of some help.

Me along with Indra and a close friend of mine (Jitkishore) who also worked with me in the same organization booked our tickets for Jiribam on the 13th. We managed to get a row of seat numbered 12, 13 and 14.

The journey to Jiribam was uneventful. Our work finished we returned on the Sunday, the 15th of August (Although it happened to be a bandh). The journey till Barak was quite uneventful, the trouble started, one or two kilometers to Nungbah. Suddenly, there were a loud clanking sound and the bus stopped. The axle of the bus had broken.

So the 30 odd passengers of the ill fated bus had to walk about a kilometer or so to Nungbah. Nungbah being the stopover place, it caters to the refreshment needs of the passengers. However since the few buses, which plied that day had already stopped over for refreshments and departed for Imphal already, all the foods in the few hotels had already been consumed. So there we were stranded at Nungbah, and there was no way we could reach Imphal the same day, since the only vehicles and buses that would be available, would be only the next day around noon time.

To top it all there was no food. The hoteliers were kind enough to cook up a meal for 30 hungry passengers in a hurry. Although, the rice was uncooked, no one complained, as by the time the meals were finished serving, most of the passengers were nursing a grumbling stomach.

As the evening passed and growing dusk gathered, another worry crept up, that of finding a place to sleep, as it would be unthinkable to pass the night in the bus. Everyone were selfish enough in trying to find a place in the small hamlet of few houses for themselves and their family, no one cared to give a helping hand to three or four teenaged girls, who were traveling in a group.

It took ultimately some persuasion to dissuade the girls from spending the night in the bus and accommodate them in our hut with two beds and already shared by 12 or 13 of us, man, women and children.

The night passed off with the weary souls falling off to sleep one after another, packed like a sack of potato. Morning came and came the desperate fight over the few toilets. Suddenly Jitkishore shouted, 'Hey JP! Hurry up there is a bus from Mizoram and we will not find any place unless you hurry up' clutching our airbags, my toilet needs forgotten I dashed off for the highway and made another desperate attempt in wresting control of the door handle from my fellow co-passengers.

There was a bus on the highway with the bold words “GODS GIFT” emblazoned on the mast. Jitkishore had managed to wrest a seat over the pile of gunny bags. There were no seats available. By the time Indra who was in the toilet, finished up his task and rushed over to us, the bus was already moving. We were congratulating ourselves in being lucky, since many of our co-passengers were unlucky or they thought wise to wait for the nest Imphal bound bus rather than tumble over the back of the seat filled with sacks of rice, potatoes and bananas.

All the same we thanked the almighty, and reflected on the strange coincidence, as the bus was indeed a 'God's Gift'. The uncomfort of sitting atop the sacks of rice, potatoes and bananas was another thing, compared to sigh of relief we heaved, on reflecting that we were finally reaching Imphal.

The next day in the office Jitkishore and me had some explanation to do. While relating the incident, I lamented 'what do you expect when you have as coincidence', 'seat number 13, date 13 and day the Friday!' (August 13th 1993 happened to be a Friday, considered as menacing and unlucky by many). All the same, I added 'we are here without any harm as god saved us by sending a bus from Mizoram with the name of 'Gods Gift' on it.




J.P. Sinha, a proud Manipuri, writes for the second time to e-pao.net
You can contact him at [email protected]

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