TODAY -

Of tongue cleaner and angels
Going unconscious was like being enveloped with nothingness, there were no pain, no thoughts and no ‘me’

Samarjit Kambam *



Am writing this article with an achy-breaky head. Maybe, I am writing this piece using the left side of the brain only, for my right side of my brain is heavy and numb, as if the right half of my head has been frozen.

Just a few days back, I was on an official duty at Silchar. I travelled to and fro Imphal to Silchar and back by F1 passenger vehicle which the travel agencies at the counter used to bluff the customers as Tata Sumo. The journey by road was kinda torture, a full-throttle inconvenience, a hellish experience as you have already known about the pathetic condition of Imphal – Jiribam national highway, the second life-line of Manipur.

If the passenger vehicle was actually a Tata Sumo, the hardship of conveyance could have been reduced at least to a certain extent. But we were packed like pieces of sardines in a can inside the F1 passenger vehicle. By the time I reached Silchar, I felt like all the nuts and bolts of my body got loose and my flat TV screen butt felt so hot as though I have set on a red hot iron tool.

I have travelled many places of India and whenever I travel I carry few personal belongings with me as I hate travelling with a heavy luggage or a heavy loaded bag. There were times when I used to carry only a towel if I were to stay at the place for a day or two. This time, as I had to stay at Silchar for about five to six days, I carried a few clothing and other items.

Most people carry their toothbrush, toothpaste and tongue cleaner as they travel to far flung places but I didn’t carry any as I intended to buy it from my destination. By the time I reached Silchar, it was almost 7.25 p.m. I booked for my lodging at a hotel. No single bed accommodation was available so I had to stay at a double bedded accommodation which was an unnecessary waste of money to me.

For us humans, over and above food, shelter and clothing there are some items which are part and parcel of our lives, most of them toiletry items. One can survive without a bathing soap especially the sadhus who reside at the Himalayan foothills, but for us it’s hard to imagine a life without a bathing soap. Same is the case with toothbrush, toothpaste, tongue cleaner and towel. For us guys shaving kit is also a part and parcel of life.

For ladies, cosmetic items ranging from lipstick, nail polish, fairness cream, compacts with small mirror etc. are intrinsic items of their lives. A nailcutter is also an item which we can’t part. The morning of the next day, I went from one shop to another to buy toothbrush, toothpaste and tongue cleaner. Most of the shops didn’t have any. Lastly, I found one shop at the next block.

I purchased a toothbrush and a Coalgate toothpaste. But when I asked for a tongue cleaner, the shopkeeper looked at me as though I was asking for an item that doesn’t exist in the world. To me, life without a tongue cleaner is unimaginable. I went from one block to another and asked almost all the shops for a tongue cleaner but none of the shops had any.

For that morning, as I brushed my teeth, I had to break one the frames of my sunglass and used it as a tongue cleaner but it hardly worked. Then, I cut a plastic mineral water bottle and used it as a tongue cleaner. That also didn’t work upto my expectation making me feel quite uncomfortable.

Well, for that morning, uneasy though I felt, after wash and change, I took breakfast and went straight to a hardware store nearby and asked for a piece of thin iron or aluminum sheet or whatever that can be used as a tongue cleaner. There was non available which can be used as a substitute for a tongue cleaner.

By around 9 a.m., I headed towards Mashimpur for my official duty. There also I asked for tongue cleaner at almost every shops but my pursuit for a tongue cleaner turned out to be a Waterloo for me. After I returned back at Club Road in the evening, there was no other option left for me other than buying a small-width measuring tape made of metal from the same hardware store and cut it into three pieces each measuring about half foot with a big scissor.

The storekeepers at the hardware store looked at me with extreme surprise. In fact, they were so surprisingly surprised that that their bulging eyeballs almost popped off from their skull sockets. I knew that they definitely must be thinking “This guy is insane”. Insane or not insane, let them think whatever way they want, but those pieces really worked fine as substitutes for a tongue cleaner. Well, the logjam for the tongue cleaner issue was solved and I got some mental peace.

On the night of the second day, after dinner, I went for a stroll at around 8 p.m.. I might have gone for about 300 metres from the hotel I where I was staying. Even though it is winter season, the place was not at all cold, the weather was pleasant. So I was wearing only a T-Shirt and a pair of jeans. The straight stretch of street was properly lighted. As I was walking by, a person, whom I guessed might be below 20 years of age was coming from the opposite direction and crossed the street towards me.

I could feel something peculiar at his movement and my intuition told me that something’s about to happen as the proximity level between the stranger and me turned out to be quite alarming. He then pretended to stumble and rubbed his shoulder briskly at my right shoulder. His intention was to divert my attention to my shoulder while he takes out my wallet from my back pocket.

However, I felt something taken out from my back side right pocket. It happened so fast, I am sure he possessed great dexterity and hell lotta experience in pick pocketing. Seeing my wallet in his hand, I snatched my wallet from him and gifted him with a punch of high impact by my right fist. His nose was broken and blood from his nose was falling down in torrents.

Then, he shouted something in Bengali and all of a sudden three persons of almost the same age group sprang out of nowhere. For a few seconds I exchanged punches and kicks with them. One against four was really tough, a highly inverted proportion.

How I wished I were Tony Jhaa or Atkin Scotts. Then one of them took out an iron rod and hit me hard on my forehead. After seeing many stars and fireflies I blacked out. It was the first time in my life where I felt unconscious.

And you know what? Going unconscious was like being enveloped with nothingness, there were no pain, no thoughts and no ‘me’. When I regained consciousness, a male nurse was working on my wounds at a private clinic. I asked the nurse “Who brought me here?” The nurse replied that two elderly persons brought me there and then left saying that they were quite busy. The right side of my head was so heavy I felt as if a metal weighing about ten Kgs was implanted inside my head.

If those two persons had not arrived at the scene, I might have ended up like a second Nido Tania albeit at a different place. I desperately wanted to see and thank the two angels who saved my life but I haven’t seen them, nor will I be seeing them for the rest of my life. I felt glad that in this world where an eye is taken for an eye, there are some real human beings among us, persons who possess humaneness and compassion.

I badly yearned to see them and express my gratitude to them for saving my life but I didn’t get the opportunity. I convey my heartfelt thanks to the two unknown angels and wish them happiness, prosperity and all the best in their future endeavours.


* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 06, 2017.


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