“Tshering, come here.” Sonam and Tenzin called me from the second bench as we were waiting for DCS-II Lecturer to come.
I lazily walked to their place, my shoulder drooping with the tiredness from the previous night gathering. “Hang ya?” I asked.
“After class, let’s go for a drive with Tee (Sonam’s fiancé Tenzin). Do you know where exactly zoo is located near Hashimara?” Sonam asked and when I said I don’t. “Ask Thinley, she might have idea.” Sonam said.
“I don’t know but will ask Thinley” I heard myself replying and made my way, actually ran towards Thinley who was busily writing something at back bench. In a flip, tiredness vanished and found myself elatedly pouring the plan to her.
Excitement shone in her eyes and she went to ask boys who previously visited zoo.
Boys warned us to be careful with a recent incident of a boy attacked by white tiger in Delhi zoo. We discussed, planned and enquired about the location and safety of the zoo from Sonam’s sister in-law. Then idea shifted to visit a hut resort near Hashimara. I called aunt to ask about resort (her pictures at resort were uploaded in facebook). She said it’s somewhere near Hashimara and she doesn’t know the place name.
Unsure of the destination, we dressed and waited for Tee to pick up with his recently bought car. We had a plan to go after class but excitement won and we agreed to bunk EE class.
In car, seeing we had little idea about zoo and resort, Tee asked whether we would like to go Samtse (2 hours journey from Phuntsholing) or not. We readily agreed to idea with the beaming smile over the series of surprises unfolding sequentially. We ate lunch from a fast food restaurant.
With little chit chat and low volume music, we set our journey to Samtse. The journey was uneventful till Thinley shouted and pointed towards resort. Tee abruptly stopped the car and we made way towards it.
It was simple hut yet exotic, dull but beautiful and perfect for a day out with friends. We walked around enjoying the little beauty of the place and we opted for boating. After 20-30 minutes of boating, we resumed our journey to Samtse as we were getting late moreover we need to return to college.
We directly went to Samtse College of Education to meet Tee’s sister. Then we dropped at Sonam’s brother place and without wasting much time we returned but it was already dusk by the time.
In the car, we started singing along with the music; actually I started butchering song in my Amrish Puri’s voice stealing laughter from them. We laughed, teased, and insulted the way we sang a song. It was a moment to remember. Shafqat Amanat Ali’s song ‘Tu Hi Mera’ was played and we merrily sang with him.
A song wasn’t complete when Tee abruptly stopped the car in the jungle of Banarhat as Maruti van overtook and asked us to stop. We weren’t sure what was happening when three men came out of vehicle (one masked and few were still there in a vehicle) and surrounded ours. They said something is not right with us and banged on the front window asking us to get out. We panicked; Tee and Sonam opened their respective window, a man near Tenzin’s window tried searching for a car key (luckily the car didn’t require key for starting as it has switch). They forcefully tried to open the door but thank god or Tenzin or both as he had already interlocked the car.
They desperately tried to open the door but they couldn’t succeed. I heard Sonam pleading in Hindi to let us go and saying that we don’t have anything then he tried to snatch her handbag from her. The situation was getting out of our hand and terror blended with air. I heard myself saying “Move, move…”but Tee heard enough to accelerate the car and move. We heard the loud bang on the vehicle, they might have hit with fist. In unison, we said “Faster…please faster.”
We assured each other that they won’t catch us as mileage of his car is better than a van. Tee said that he stopped car thinking that someone is genuinely in need of help. When he got idea of their intention, he was wise enough to start the car and move. I said that since we don’t do any wrong or harm other, we can’t expect same from other. People aren’t straight. It was only 6:47pm when we checked time after escaping from them. However, it isn’t safe to travel at night Samtse-Phuntsholing highway via Indian plains. It was a lesson.
As Sonam sobbed thinking of the worst that could have happened with us, we assured her that nothing will happen to us. We didn’t harm anyone and god will protect us. We still had faith on god. I silently prayed and wished I had a Dorothy’s silver shoes to tap and take us to Bhutan in jiffy. At that moment I knew what real fear is. Trust me; it is nothing like fear of failing exams, viva-voce time, and fear of lecturers asking questions during project presentation.
It is a fear that terrorize from within, clog your brain for the moment, cold you feel in heart, chills on body and will haunt you enough later.
Our class boys warned us of the beast in the jungle but they didn’t warn us of the intelligent human beast who can manipulate and harm the innocents.
Note: We agreed not to share this incident with anyone but at a second thought I feel it is not to fair, we escaped but some people won’t. It was us that time, next time it would be someone (you, your family, relatives, friends or random people) but they will still be a victim. Thank god! We escaped with little shock but others may not be as lucky as we were. We learned a lesson that night and warn you guys of the things that could happen at Indian highway. We aren’t always safe. Don’t trust blindly. Prepare yourself for the worst.