Peace is something that makes life possible. Growing up in a state that was torn apart by mindless terrorism, occasional curfew and military rule ingrained in me the importance of peace. Assam like we know her today was very different from when I was growing up. A small outing to town with the family which for many others my age was a carefree affair was for me something that was punctuated by nth number of military checking throughout the drive. I have seen guns up close at a very young age. Things that for many are something that they see in a movie. Life then in Assam was very different and terrorism has definitely made her lag behind. But the important part is still she survived. Now she seems to thrive while licking the wounds that the past has left her. When her counterparts were progressing in all spheres of life, she was struggling to maintain peace in herself. But the important thing is that she survived to tell her story.
Assam is one of those places that is naturally beautiful. When you are born and grow up in such a beautiful place and also see the struggle to stay sane tear the beauty apart, you get to understand the actual meaning of what being beautiful and bold literally means. There are many things, if I keep writing I will never be able to finish. But I call this place home and coming from this place I realize that things like peace, opportunities and humanity has value. Maybe this is why I shirk at the very thought of divisive ideologies. I have become a person who is open to all ideas. But I accept nor reject anything. An idea for me is just that – An idea. What matters to me is ‘do that idea unite humanity or divide?’
I was fortunate enough to be in Assam also when terrorism was dying. Thanks to the Indian Army and their relentless attempt at filtering the state. I remember many a times when I travelled from school to home, or from the tea estate club parties to our estate home or maybe from a family visit. I saw roads that were not punctuated by military checking posts. It was rather punctuated by small children who were dressed in the traditional attires coming back cheering from a Bihu performance. I saw people move about without fear. I saw vehicles being stopped but only to run an errand. I saw guns but only in toy shops. These simple things that are so commonplace was a privilege to me. Since I have seen the other side of peace, I realized what this side of being peaceful meant. One image that was a constant on winter evenings was this. The highways of Assam run through paddy fields. Acres of green rice fields or blossoming yellow mustard fields mostly made up the landscape. Sometimes at the end of these fields a village lay bustling in the distance. In the winters mostly, when we made our way back home from Dibrugarh, we crossed acres of this same highway view. Sometimes, in the distance I could see a long horizontal cloud of smoke floating above the fields near the village. It started from the villages and made its way horizontally across the fields while disappearing at a distance. The oncoming fog, mixed with the smoke, made it linger a little longer. This smoke came from the villagers who were either starting a fire to keep warm as the cold night came down, or maybe it was a mix of the smoke that rose from food cooked on wood fire in the many homes. The scene looked perfect with acres of green fields that held in its buds, hope. These fields were overlooked by the tiny cottages of the village that now lived without fear going about the chores of an everyday life while the fire in the hearth promised of a warm meal. Every time I passed by these fields I always looked out and stared. I understood what peace meant then and how closely it is related to the ideology of including humanity as one.