On a cloud draped afternoon, with rain drenched roads, and delicate drizzles descending onto me, I hire a cab, and as it drives down sluggishly to Kyndailad, an MLTR softly taps on the stereo. For a traveler or a reader who has known and seen the length and breadth of the country needs no more clues where I exactly am.
As the cab goes further down the hills of Shillong, switching landscapes from Oxford to Garrison Ground, traversing through Pine Walk and to the Cathedral of All Saints’, with Lachaumiere hills peeping through the fog, the light breeze cutting into the jacket, I travel through time, seeing myself growing up, while still shuffling on these streets; and the city growing within me: its character, its trends, its attitude, its life, its chill. Morning church bells, soft Sunday music, steaming hot momos, Chinese umbrellas, heavy school blazers, Christmas eves, Santa caps; all were part of me.
Growing up in these hills left me with an indefinable attachment with the mist and the rain, the pine trees and it cones. And I never realised it until I left Shillong for my graduation. In fact, nobody does. Getting highly accustomed to its climate and nature, the appreciation fades. Once into the cities, with all the noise and it ever busy lifestyle, the mind walks backs to those roads that loved being walked on. And it keeps flashing for some seconds, until you realise where you are. Probably it is not just me, but everybody who has spent some part of their life here, a part of Shillong remains in them.
Having lived in a city for five years, I contemplate people in cities would never experience the beauty, joy and serenity of such a place nor comprehend the connection that develops between an individual and these hills. And as the cab slows down, and I pay him and get off at the busiest place in Shillong, with tall Cloud Nine, the rocking cradle of the rock capital, overlooking it, I recall the words of a friend as she left for Delhi for good, more than a decade ago:
‘As you walk up the hills, and the wind dashes against your face, you feel it all belongs to you, and you feel it nowhere else. ’