January 13, 2010

The Motorcycle Diaries: Of Freedom

Freedom cannot be explained. It cannot be expressed. It must be experienced. And I am in love with freedom.

I always find ways to experience it, and my latest craze is riding motorcycles. Keeping that in mind I have recently invested in a state-of-the-art motorcycle. I use it for short forays across the dusty back-roads of rural Samdrup Jongkhar.

These days I am in Kanglung on study and away from home for a few weeks. Then I have a sudden craze to be free. So I go to Deothang to get my bike.

And there I am at 8:00 am at Lemsharang block. I am the center of gaze of everybody, me and my bike. I must have made an impressive sight.

All along the way I feel free, speeding along the cliffs of Melong Brak (mirror-cliff), feeling the chilly wind finding its way through any gaps towards my skin. I stop once along the way, resting and talking in the breath-taking view of the distant hamlets, the white rivers that seem so near yet so far. And the silence. Except for the wind blowing up the valley, cold and sharp, everything is still.

I am reminded of my life – the utter silence, and loneliness in it. I am also reminded of my chat with my eldest brother. When I said that I wanted to pursue my higher studies before settling down for married life he was very supportive. Yet when I lamented that almost all of my mates had children, he cautioned that it might be too late for me later.

Remembering that conversation, I laughed.  My laughter echoed dryly around me and I could feel it mocking at me.

I resumed my journey and reached Wamrong. As I take in suja and sikam rice, I can hear Hanna Montana's Butterfly Fly Away, and again I am lost. I can see Miley (the central character in Hanna Montana – The Movie) and her dad drumming on the guitar and humming the tune. It really hurts at this moment that I am alone. I pay and ride again. The sun is trying very hard to warm the workers (army personals) who are busy at the reconstruction of the burnt-down houses.

As I rise above the town, I can see the change in the Thrimshing Dungkhag landscape. There is a long scar zigzagging across the entire face of a mountain… the road. The farm road… to be precise. Sometime before I had heard of eco-friendly road construction, but this was certainly not eco-friendly.

My mind doesn't rest long on that because suddenly… WHAM… I am skidding across the road.

(to be continued…)