Waking up everyday to that goddamn shrilling tea kettle shooting steam into our kitchen and the sound of the rice cooker screaming to turn off the stove, makes me sick. Sleeping late in the morning is the most beautiful thing for me, but I rarely get the chance.
" Rimrim, how long are you going to sleep like a pig?" My mom shouted from the other room. "Turn off the stove fast." She added.
"Why do you even cook so early in the morning!" I murmured. Six in the morning is quite early for making food. Everyone in my village wakes up early, hence, I have no choice but to go with the flow...
I turned off the stove and entered the bathroom to fresh up myself. Days are getting boring, everyday is almost the same. But maybe today will be a bit different as there is celebration of Baishagu festival. This festival marks the beginning of the new year for the Bodo tribe. The colourful dresses of the people with a big smile across their faces makes me happy. Music and dance become a regular feature in the grand. Young men play on the 'Sifung' (flute), 'Kham' (drum), the four-stringed 'Serjã', and beat out a rhythm with a piece of split bamboo called 'Thãrkhã'. Girls dance in bands and play on the Jew's harp called 'Gongonã' and small cymbals called 'jotha'. If anyone from other places ever visits our place during the festival he will never feel like to go back from, Nangdorbari, on the northern areas of the Brahmaputra River valley in Assam, yes, that's the place where I live.
I dressed up myself with my red dokhona which has beautiful small yellow and black flowers embroidered on it. My ivory skin colour and my shoulder length straight black hairs goes perfectly with the dress. "I look beautiful." I said to myself being satisfied by my looks with the attire.
"I think I need to look for a husband for Rimrim soon." Aunt Misimi commented looking at me. She is my mom's only younger sister who lives alone in front of my house. We have four houses built in such a manner that all the houses are facing each other and there is a common empty place between the houses. The elder ladies of my neighbourhood are always there to speak about my marriage whenever they see me. It's so frustrating.
"Get married first, then think about me." I answered back rudely, rolling my eyes. I know that I shouldn't say that but I can't hold it in anymore.
"Don't you know how to speak with elders politely?" My mom came out from the kitchen with the rolling pin.
"I'm only 18 and all of you have been behind my marriage since the last two years. I'm fed up!" I shouted.
"What's all the fuss about?" My dad said coming out of the house. " My daughter will marry whenever she wants and even if she doesn't marry, I don't mind. It's a new year today, I don't want to hear about all these anymore."
My dad, Horen Boro, always supported me with my decision and that is what made me love my dad the most. He looks like me except for the short hairs and laugh lines. "Thanks dad " I said, giving him a one-armed hug.
"Enjoy the day. See you in the afternoon." Dad said smiling and I nodded at him.
I started my way towards the market to buy some ornaments for myself. I saved a lot of money for this day. I walked for around five minutes and my eyes caught my attention to a road which I have never seen before. I walk almost everyday by the same path and I find it surprising that I missed the narrow road which was left to the main road. Curiosity, killing my brain to discover where the road leads to and at the same time I'm scared of getting lost. I battled with myself for a minute - I'll go and discover the place! Maybe that will be the stupidest idea or maybe not...
The road was beautiful, of course, I couldn't deny that because that's what made my eyes sparkle. Everything was green: the trees, their trunks covered with moss, their branches hanging with a canopy of it, the ground covered with ferns. Even the air filtered down greenly through the leaves.
It was too green - an alien planet.
I walked for a few minutes, never taking my eyes off from the breathtaking view. Well, I didn't pass any human nor animal or birds. Anyways, silent moments rarely come in life, let me enjoy.
Someone's behind me! I could feel all of a sudden that someone is following me. I turned back to see who it was. There was no one.
"WHO'S THERE?" I asked loudly, gathering all my courage.
Five people appeared one by one. They were the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Of the three boys, one was big — muscled like a serious weight lifter, with dark, curly hair. Another was taller, learner, but muscular and honey blond. The last was lanky, less bulky, with untidy, bronze-coloured hair. He was more boyish than others.
The girls were the opposites. The tall one looked like a model that often appears in magazines. She had a beautiful figure with golden hairs gently waving to the middle of her back. The short girl was pixielike, thin in the extreme, with small features. Her hair was deep black, cropped short and pointing in every direction.
And yet, they were all exactly alike. They were dressed like our boro traditional dresses yet they don't look like us — but foreigners. Every one of them was chalky pale, the palest of all the people living in my village. Paler than me, the albino. They all had very dark eyes despite the range in hair tones. They also had dark shadows under those eyes — purplish, bruise like shadows. As if they were all suffering from sleepless nights, or almost done recovering from a broken nose. Though their noses, all their features, were straight, perfect, angular.
"How did you come here?" The cropped haired girl asked me to come very close to me as if she was examining my face.
"I just saw this road and I came here to see." I said confused, not knowing what's happening here.
"YOU SAW?" All the five shouted together.
I nodded at them.
They all started discussing among themselves, I don't know about what as they were whispering.
" I'm Rose." The short girl introduced herself after a minute with a wide smile across her face. " This is Sangrik, David ,Ferenga and Jenny." She added pointing out at them. So the muscular one is Sangrik, the taller one Ferenga and the bronzed hair is David. Jenny is the beautiful one.
'' I'm Rimrim." I said. " You all don't look like you're from our village." I added, giving a crooked smile.
" We are demons, that's why you didn't see us." Ferenga said quickly.
" But she finally did see us." Jenny said, giving a challenging smile, raising her right eyebrow at Ferenga.
" Are you a demon too?" Sangrik came near, looking at me from top to bottom with his eyes full of excitement.
"No. I-I am a normal person." I said , having no idea what's going on. "I think I should go back, I have to go to the market." I said again, excusing myself from the weirdos. "You cannot go back since you know our secrets." David said with a serious tone. " Excuse me?" I asked. " I hardly know you all, how can I know about the secrets?" " That doesn't matter, you discovered the road." Jenny said.
"Huh? You mean these trees, grasses and the uneven road? You call them secrets? Are these made of Gold and Diamonds?" I asked them, getting seriously annoyed with their talks which are not making any sense.
"Guys, you are scaring her. I read her mind. She clearly knows nothing about us. But maybe he got some powers which made her see the place." Rose explained to them. Although I had no idea what Rose was explaining to them, I can see that she is friendly and has brains.
"But Rimrim, you cannot go back today. You need to be here for 24 hours." Rose said, turning towards me.
"I'm sorry but I don't have time for all these. I'm going back." I said getting ready annoyed and angry as well with their weird thoughts.
"But —" Rose said, wanting me to stop but I didn't.
"Let her go. She will be back soon." I could hear David saying this.
I ignored them and walked straight without looking behind. I'm pretty sure they need a serious mental check up.
I walked for around fifteen minutes but to my surprise the road never ended. I remember correctly that it was a one way road which was very close to the highway. Fear ran across my mind and my spine froze. Am I really stuck here? Why me? Many questions crossed my mind. Tears rolled down my eyes thinking that I will never be able to go out of the road. How am I
going to explain to my parents and relatives tomorrow that I went missing on a mysterious road? I don't want my father to be ashamed of me as my tribe is very strict to girls being outside alone all day and night.
"You don't have to worry about your friends if they don't remember you." David suddenly appeared and said from behind.
What do you mean by they won't remember me! I am there's only daughter, how will they not remember me?" I asked him, crying.
"Let me show you then", he said.
His eyes suddenly became red and I saw the screen which was like a television where I could see my family who were busy with the festival and it was night time — it seemed like I was seeing the future. Are they really not worried that I'm not back home? I could hear the conversation between my parents.
"It would have been so good if we had a child." My dad said to my mom with deep sorrow. I stepped back and asked David, " who are you? And where am I ?"
"You are in the land of dreams. A land where you can find anything you want to eat, anything you want to wear, a lot of beautiful places which you will never find in your village." David explained.
" I don't know what you are talking about but my family is important to me and I want to leave. " I cried.
"If you leave, you will forget everything about here." David said.
" I don't care about it. And I don't even want to remember this stupid place." I almost screamed with my voice breaking.
" I cannot make you leave now because I don't know how to. But you can leave tomorrow. I can make sure about it. Let me take you somewhere.” David said and walked. I had no other choice than to follow him now.
" Where are your friends?" I asked him.
" You will see them soon. " He replied.
David took me to a place which was the most beautiful place. I saw colourful flowers, butterflies flying everywhere, neatly cut grasses, a big apple tree and a golden well in the middle. I could see Rose, Sangrik ,Ferenga and Jenny standing near the well smiling at me. Rose came running towards me.
" You are not able to enjoy the festival today, so we decided to show you the festival and the village decoration." Rose said with excitement.
I had no other choice . So I decided not to fight anymore and enjoy whatever they are doing. I'll leave tomorrow , anyway.
I went near the well, I could see my village — the well was like a camera. The people singing and dancing merrily, the beautiful dokhonas of the women made of pure silk. Various food items everywhere: fish, dried fishes, Oma Bedor (pork meat) and sweets. I could also see silkworms. I wish I could eat them too.
My family worshiping the supreme deity Bathou or Lord Shiva by offering chicken and zou (rice beer). The attractive dance 'Bagarumba' performed by the beautiful ladies and men. The
purpose of the dance is to appease the Bodo's supreme god Bathow or Bathou, for whom the Sizu tree is a symbol. It is also called the Butterfly Dance as the girls look like pretty, flighty butterflies as they dance with their arms outstretched, their shawls creating the impression of wings. Although it is cheerful and creates a festive mood of much gaiety and merriment providing the girls with relief from their normal hardworking village life, it is also serious, and the lyrics that accompany the dance are a simple description of the world of nature. Time passed quite fast in the mysterious place of dreams. David accompanied me the entire time whereas his friends were busy playing, talking and eating. I told David that he can also spend time with his friends but he denied. I must say spending the entire day with David made me feel something different from him — like sweet though that makes me happy.
" So it's the time, right? I can go back now." A asked them.
" Yes, sure. " Jenny came towards me. I think she hates me, I don't know for what but maybe without any reason.
Jenny stared into my eyes coming very close, I could see her eyes turning golden from black. " Hey, what are you doing?" I asked, getting scared. I looked at everyone and I saw all their eyes were changing colours. I was too scared with no idea what was happening.
"Guys, I think I'm feeling dizzy. I'm fainting. Help — " I said and I fell down. I couldn't speak, I felt like I was dying.
"Are you going to sleep all day? It's such a great festival. At least wake up today on your own." I could hear someone shouting in my ears. I opened my eyes slowly trying to recognise who was speaking to me.
MOM! YES, THAT'S MY MOM!
I jumped out of my bed and hugged her tightly. "I missed you. I thought, I'll never be back." I cried.
She hugged me back. " What are you talking about? You had a bad dream?" She asked me. I looked at her surprised. " I was missing for a day. You were not worried?" I asked. " Missing? Have you been reading too many fantasy books recently? It's new year today, don't eat my head mixing dreams with reality." She said, rubbing my hair slowly. I nodded at her , knowing it's useless to explain to her. I understood now that I time travelled back. I thought they would erase my memories, but it's good that they didn't.
I dressed up beautifully like before. My aunt commented on my marriage again. But this time my reply was different
"I'll marry soon aunt, don't worry.'' I smiled.
She looked confused as I agreed.
"Then will you marry me?" I heard someone say that behind me — a familiar voice. I turned back immediately.
"It's you? I thought you would live in that place forever." I said. I won't lie, but I was too happy to see him.
"So, you both already know each other. I thought you never met the village school headmaster's son. So, do you like the groom I selected for you, Rimrim." My dad said, smiling at me.
“I never thought the headmaster tamed a demon.” I said laughing and everyone joined me. David smiled at me.
So, David is going to be my husband. I was not ready for it. Wish he had said about it before. I blushed.
“So, is my choice good? Do you agree with the marriage?’’ Dad asked me. "It's a yes from my side, if he is okay with the marriage. " I said and ran inside my room.
I could hear everyone laughing outside happily. I never expected things to be this way but I like everything now from the beginning. Maybe it was the best for me. Though, deep down, I’m still curious about ‘the land of dreams’.