Power of prayer

It was ’97 Dec. Me and my Junior from Hostel reached Guwahati by train (North East Express) from New Delhi, on our way back home. I was in class 10th and the junior had just joined in 8th. We put up at a friends place for the night and took a night-bus leaving for Aizawl the next evening. It was a journey I was never to forget my whole life.

We met a few Mizos on the bus, happy cos’ we never get to meet our own from where we came. The bus started off, late as usual but we never really cared much as long as we were nearing home. I woke up around 4 in the morning to find the bus had stopped and all I could see was darkness. But as dawn broke, we could see a whole line of buses, trucks and other vehicles facing the worst Sonapur landslide ever.

The plan was to cross the landslide with whatever luggage we had, to the other side where another bus of the same Travel Agency would take us onward. We gathered our bags, which was hardly heavy, 2 boys back for vacation from an Army hostel don’t bring home much, and made our way among the winding line of people.

At one point, there was a Tata truck which was covered in mud to the point where the driver could’ve barely crawled out from the top of the window. A lady had slipped off the makeshift path of rocks, to step in waist-deep slush of yellowish mud. It was drizzling lightly which didn’t make the trip any easier. We were wet to our socks.

We reached the other side, covered in mud from the knee down and finally managed to find our bus. Only a few co-passengers had reached, so we loaded our bags and, being the honest boy scouts we were, started back to help out others. By the time we reached the old bus, we found it to be empty and everyone had gone. We started back lightly, but happily, running a few paces, to the other side again only to find our bus had left.

We had kept all our cash, except for a few change, in our luggage with our wallets. We didn’t want them drenched afterall. So we were ROYALLY SCREWED. There were no more Mizos, no familiar faces, and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere, without our luggage or money. Cellphones hadn’t even reached India. That was the worst feeling ever.

I knew some Hindi at that time, so I approached a bus driver who had just emptied his passengers and fortunately not many to bring back. He was kind enough to hitch us a ride till as far as he went, which was on the outskirts of Silchar. Upon reaching there, we started asking around for any vehicle that might take us to Silchar so that at least, we can somehow make it to Vairengte. That was as far as we had planned, to reach Vairengte and somehow make a call home for help.

It turns out that Silchar was far, far away from Vairengte (Never knew that then!) and the localites told me I needed to get to Bagha first before I can even think about Vairengte. Finding no means of transport and unable to afford the available ones, (We probably had less than Rs.100 between us) we started walking towards what we figured was Bagha. We didn’t have anything to carry so it wasn’t such a bad idea.

It was high noon. We had walked for quite a while, enough to dry even our then-wet shoes, when we reached a CHOWK kinda place where there were a couple of roads that led out. We hadn’t thought of this possibility and we were screwed once more. With the little amount of money we had, we decided to have chai and think it out.

In the midst of the confusion, a miracle happened. There was a man with a small shop next to the chai-wallah, whom we had asked for direction. He happened to know that we were Mizos, and could speak a little broken words himself. Who would’ve thought that in the middle of halfway between Silchar and Bagha, one would meet someone who actually spoke Mizo, no matter how bad. He had worked in Aizawl for some years and used to stay in Tuikhuahtlang. I still regret not getting his name or something, but then, that was the last thing on our minds.

He showed us the right direction and said we might get a Town bus had we waited for some time. We were too excited to be on the right path again that we left once more, on foot. We tried hitching a ride as vehicles passed by, but no one wanted to give a ride to us 2 dirty, slit-eyed young boys lest they rob them or something. We really didn’t notice time passing cos’ neither of us had a watch, but after what seemed like an eternity on a humid Silchar-winter, we finally hailed a Town Bus. Never in my wildest nightmares had I thought I’d be riding in a Town Bus in Silchar, surrounded by people who eyed us suspiciously. We weren’t a normal sight.

We somehow reached Bagha. It was probably my 3rd time in Bagha and 1st time on foot, it took us quite a while, but we managed to find the MST Bus station. We were told that the next bus leaves in the evening, but we didn’t have enough money to pay for the ticket. So, we started off again for Bagha Bazar where they said we could get an Auto to Vairengte post. It didn’t take us much time reaching there. It was late and starting to get dark, but we still had a long way to go.

Bagha Bazar was like heaven compared to what we had been through. There were a lot of friendly faces, and even the unfriendly ones at least could speak Mizo. We saw an old lady who was tugging a huge bale of PAAN leaves, too big for her anyway. We helped her load it and she agreed to share an Auto till the post. With uplifted spirits, we reached the post and on Mizo territory, we were halfway home.

We hardly noticed the walk from the post to the first shop. It was too good to be true. We had a few change left and we decided to use that for a phone call home. Knowing the telephone connection those days and the price of STD, we just had enough time to freak our parents out. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes at that point, ever!

It was dark, and chilly. we could hear the sound of dinner in the houses nearby. Without a plan, without money, with no direction and no hope, we started out for the post, hoping the guards there might be of some help. They were kind enough to allow us to check the registration numbers of Vehicles coming in from Silchar. We had noted the number of the Bus we had loaded our luggage into, and it was 3443, but it was nowhere on the list. By our calculations, by then, the bus would’ve crossed Vairengte hours prior, if not reached Aizawl. We were once again.. you guessed it.. SCREWED!

I don’t really consider myself a very religious person, God-fearing, yes, but not religious. But at that point, I decided it was time to put the situation in His hands. We had done our best, but it was not enough. I excused myself to go to the loo, locked myself up and prayed like I’d never done before in my life. I came out the same person, nothing different.

An hour later, a bus, smaller than the one we were supposed to be on, stopped at the post. We wouldn’t have given it a second look had it not been for the Number Plate. Interestingly, the number was 3434. Upon closer examination, we saw the familiar faces of our co-passengers. They had stopped to change buses in Silchar and had, MIZO-ly, loaded our luggages onto the new bus, thinking they would at least leave it at the station in Aizawl had we come to claim it. They had even asked the driver to wait for sometime in Silchar, in case we might turn up. That was why they took so much time to reach Vairengte.

No words could explain the relief that overwhelmed us at that moment. It was pure bliss. I thanked God all the way home and couldn’t believe what we had gone through the whole day. Later on, I wondered if the situation would’ve been different, had I stopped to pray when the bus had left us.


9 Responses to “Power of prayer”

  1. August 28, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    That was quite an adventure, and a miraculous rescue. Didn’t they say the Lord works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform?

    When you hear the word Sonapur the first thing that comes to mind is landslides and slushy muddy roads. I guess everyone who used that route must have been stuck at least once. I remember one summer night me and a bunch of friends went home in a Sumo and we got stuck there for a couple of hours, but it was a moonlit night and there was no wading in mud involved, we actually had a good time. Then there was the time we went home during Dussera and the entire Silchar was celebrating and we had to go round and round the town before we could find a way out.. ahhh travel stories!

  2. September 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    He heee definitely a journey you’ll never forget. Just imagine if things had turned out bad.. probably the papers back home might have had a news item saying “Boys Lost..only their Luggage reaches home…” And yes how worried your parents must have been!!..

  3. 3 NotGood
    September 2, 2009 at 1:20 am

    @Aduhi: Yeah.. Sonapur was always the dreaded Landslide prone zone. I’ve once come through Haflong due to a landslide blockage which took us 24 hrs to reach home, in a Fully packed Sumo. I’m glad flights have become so much cheaper and frequent, but then, there’s always the threat of a cancellation, but that’s another story.

    @Blind: Never thought about it that way, but your headline does make a pretty good read. I would totally buy an edition of Vanglaini or whatever with that on the Frontpage.. hehe..

  4. 4 makima
    September 3, 2009 at 5:41 am

    I can imagine the two of you walking towards Bagha 🙂 That junior of yours must have looked up to you like a leader. But at least your ‘ordeal’ concluded in a day.

    That time I came to stay at your cousin’s place in Delhi for 2 weeks some years ago (I remember the days were split into 2 equal halves… time to sleep and time to cook & eat). After that I think I left for home a whole week ahead of you but reached only a day before you. Guess where I was?

    I can’t share the main body of the story due to copyright issues 🙂

    So, I was supposed to reach on Monday but I reached late night on Friday. And my parent were not worried one bit. They didn’t even wake when our Sumo cab honked as we reached home. My mom said “Oh we heard the road was blocked and we assumed you must be stuck somewhere”. I have such cool parents! 🙂

  5. September 4, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Is’nt it great to be a Mizo?
    Prayers are so powerful, we know it, but yet we fail to remember it!

    @Makima: yeaaa.. I know about your parents coolness. hehe

  6. September 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    You are so lucky to experience that. For the rest of your life, you have something to pass on to your children and grand children. The power of a prayer is greater than anything else.

  7. 7 NotGood
    September 7, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    @Makima: Spoken like a true master of getting-out-of-tight-situations. Which class were you when you hired a taxi back from school to home, saying your folks were going to pay the fare? That would make one hell of a story to tell your kids while narrating the tale of How you met their Mother! 😀

    @Mimi: Yes, we are so lucky to have the bond which no other community would share. It’s taken for granted back home, but when you are away, it means so much more.

    @Kima: I guess, but more than that, there is power in sincere prayer.. I’ve prayed a lot for stuff to happen, but none of them ever do.. hehe (Like maybe find a friggin’ 1000 note stack or something… although I once found a 500 note while taking a night-walk after dinner.)

  8. September 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Kima meuh pawn tawngtai a pawimawh zia a rawn sawi chuan tawngtai ngai miah lo tan pawn infuihna tha tak angah a ngaih theih ang.

    interesting story. when I was studying in Madras/Coimbatore i travelled the Guwahati-Azl route more times than I care to remember. I once rode all the way from Madras to Guwahati next to the toilet of the train compartment. Good fun!

  9. 9 NotGood
    September 17, 2009 at 2:15 am

    @Mos: I would Amen to that.. hehe.. Train journeys were more fun when we were younger, cos’ we had that energy to survive, and we simply hadn’t had better.. 😛 I think most of the trains that ply the North-East route then were possibly the slowest and least hygienic, don’t you think?

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