Rabin Prasad Kalita
It seemed like a mega carnival all around the Maniram Dewan Trade Center (MDTC) complex. The heads of human being were seen all over with a bag pack or trolley with each one of us. Mr. Bharadwaj, Panditji , Rejaul and I got assembled at the Trade Centre at sharp 8 am on last 22nd April, to carry out the parliamentary election duty, which was held on 23rd April, 2019. It was deliberated over phone by all of us, the day before so that, we could reach well in time. Everyone looked back and forth for one’s companion to form the team as per the order of appointment issued by the election commission.
We rushed inside the complex without wasting a second to collect our voting machines along with the connected documents and all other necessary items from the counter marked as per the polling stations. The things were kept systematically in a form of stalls for which no one had to face any trouble to locate.
We verified our items in possession as per the check list provided, thereafter had our buffet lunch in the jumbo makeshift kitchen assembled out there. Subsequently, we had to hunt for our allotted bus moving with heavy load of luggage. After a substantial period of cumbersome walk under the burning sun, we could fetch our bus and boarded for the polling station (PS). The bus started rolling only when all the teams of the same route got boarded. By the time it was 3 pm.
The address of our polling booth was of Hengerabari Khadi Board office, left wing. Although we saw the signboard of the office on our way but we thought, that can’t be an office by its look. It seemed like a timeworn abandoned haunted house stood in-between a big open damp field with shrubs all over. So the bus was directed to impel farther thinking there may be another office for administering our poll. Therefore, the vehicle was heading farther in search of our office. It was known from a passer-by that we had left the office a mile back. That struck us at once, so we all sounded equivocally “oh no”. We didn’t take much time to get confirmed that the office we declined to admit was happened to be our polling booth. Eventually, the vehicle had to make a u-turn. What could have been done well at that eleventh hour?
We four were surprised to see its interior, which could be well resembled only with a haunted house. It was even worst as we predicted from the outside. The ceiling of the house was seen tattered all over. Moreover, doors and windows found half opened due to the rusted hinges. The floor of the house was too shabby and uneven. There were enormous small and big depressions on the surface of the floor. Most of the part of the house was heaped with woods and wooden beehives. Strings of dirt were hanging from the dilapidated roof all over. It was more of an untidy store than to be called as an office. Anyway, we had to accept it whatsoever.
Gradually the sheet of darkness came down stealing the remaining light of the room. Only then, we all could come to know that there was no bulb in the room to keep that illuminated. Keeping our belongings under the custody of our security personnel, we went for refreshment outside the gate. Mr. Rejaul left us for Namaz into a nearby Masque from there.
While dining, one of the boys of that small eatery was informing us that, the house is not at all suitable for a stay at night. We asked him curiously, why did he say so? He said the house where we were to stay at night is known for committing suicide by the outsiders being a lonesome place. He even went a step farther and said that a few days back, there was an incident of suicide on the branch of the tree, which is by the side of that office. After listening those, the things became creepy and uncanny, more than we guessed before entering the periphery. Had he not told this unsavory story, we would not have thought much about it.
We threes were returning to the room with wobbly minds. The time we were reaching near to the tree our steps went unstable and shaky through the moist and grassy tiny track. I dared to walk on front followed by two of my colleagues who caught my arms due to their growing fear. No sooner we crossed the tree, both of my colleagues sprinted towards the room but suddenly they came out of the room with same speed, saying “Dada, no light inside”.
Reaching the room, we made a temporary proviso for lighting it and looked for an arrangement to rest a while. But what! We got baffled to see the intrusion of cockroaches and rats’ running to and fro soon the lantern was switched on. The horrible clamors of mosquitoes were in addition to that as bonus. The situation became very fear-provoking. Somehow we could outspread our bed by joining benches and tables available out there. Mr. Bhardwaj caught hold of me and requested to sleep alongside of him. He was too scared due to Mr. Rejaul who was spreading some fear mongering stories of past ceaselessly.
Every minute looked like an hour for us that night as if the morning had rescheduled its time to appear late.
Almost with no sleep, we got up at 4 am, though it was too early to wish good morning. Still the outside was roofed with intense dark, except some thin and tired rays were wandering here and there outsourced from across the street. Infinite chirping of crickets and on-off petite lights of fireflies made the site precisely spooky.
What to do, still I decided go to the lavatory tearing the dark apart to offload my ongoing pressure. By the time I returned, two of them were waiting for me to accompany them, so that they can complete their morning ablution in time and to start the voting process as per the schedule. We will ever remember that horrified night which left us shaking till date.
The writer is from Assam and can be reached at [email protected]
or Mob No 9954292481