Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A Free Day

I am staying at home today. A free day because there is a mass demonstration planned for this morning. It started yesterday when some local youths set fire to some tyres.Cars were diverted (not sure where to ) and police was on site to control the disorder.

I did catch glimpses of the scene on telly in the clinic yesterday morning.With the sound turn down , the nurses and I did wonder where the disorder was taking place.We then thought no more about it. We were then out to lunch at one of the girls' house later that afternoon.As I was walking home @ 4 pm,I did notice quite a few shops were closed with the shutters down. I did think that its odd on a wednesday afternoon, maybe they also have the ancient custom of early closing on a wednesday ( like when I first came to UK in the late 60s.). A relic of colonialism of years goneby, maybe ? . It was only when I got home I realised I have put poor Uma through an agonising afternoon , worrying whether I managed to miss the trouble spot on my way home. She knew I was going out to lunch, but didn't have the contact number of the nurse concerned. She was very relieved to see me back safe and well.

Apparently the Maoist soldiers killed 2 local youths recently.Nothing was done about it . They denied that they were involved. Feelings are running high for a while now. It sparked off the burning of the tyres yesterday by the local youths protesting against the injustice and frustration of it all.The police advised the shopkeepers to close their shops today as well. I have been living in such a cocoon that I have not been aware of anything amiss. As the children were getting ready for school, the message came through to say that all schools are closed for the day.The children are very happy to have an unexpected holiday today . And the sun is shinning..
After my usual breakfast of 2 egg omelette and toasts (Uma insists everyday ), washed down by nice milky coffee, I started to put my gear on for work. It did cross my mind that whether I ought to walk to work like I usually do. Then I thought it is too easy to just give in. Afterall, I only have 2 more days left to do. However , beforeI set out, I did check with Uma whether it will be safe for me to walk this morning. She told me to keep my eyes peel on anything untoward, to turn back if anytime I do not feel happy about continuing my journey

As I walked down the lane, admittedly there were less people about and much less cars on the road. However, there were enough people about who appeared to be making their ways to work. Many of the shops in the lane were closed. There were little crowds gathered here and there, talking .There was an air of excitement ? /festival ? I was reassured.

I continued my walk towards the main trunk road.I did not see any car on the road..Again there were alot of people walking towards the centre of town.There was no sense of fear , disorder or panic. I looked around me and decided that I would continue to walk to the hospital. After 10 minutes or so, I realised that the road has been closed, which explained for the absence of cars on the road. There were alot of youths dressed in black coming from all directions, some used hankies as masks.I began to feel uneasy . I kept looking around me. People were walking past me purposefully on the pavement. I think they are the ones who are intending on going to work regardless. I was less sure about the youths who were dressed in black , walking in the middle of the road .
I hesitated twice on the pavement, and was almost knocked over by someone going past me in a hurry. I kept looking , and in the distance possibly quarter of a mile ahead, I saw a very large crowd forming very quickly. It seemed a small crowd of 60-70 to begin with, then it snowballed into hundreds in minutes,. I could see the crowd ahead is now blocking the road. There was no hesitation on my part. I turned and walked back to Uma's house

I walked quickly, aware that trouble can spread like wild fire when there are large crowds around .It is especially so when they are mainly hot-headed youths. I noticed that the few brave shopkeepers who opened their shops this morning were collecting their ware inside, and closing the shops for the day. An ambulance was being despatched to somewhere. .I began to see a few policeman walking around . The only evidence I saw was a young man aiming his flying kick at another youth who was cycling past.He missed.

As I came round the corner towards Uma's house, I saw groups of "vigilantes' in the lane.There were 2 opposing groups eyeing each other , daring each other to start something . I had to walk past them to get to Uma's house. People were looking out of their houses expecting maybe trouble. I kept walking, looking straight ahead and impassive. I was so very relieved that I got back in one piece , again

My god has been looking after me again !

1 comment:

Tee said...

sounds like you're in the neck of things. Just reading your account of demonstrations made me nervous! You're so brave AS! I'd be so riddled with anxiety I'd probably take the next plane out!