I often talk about my home town Shillong with nostalgia. I reminisce school and college days, the pine trees fresh with aroma, the hills in a stately beauty, the rippling waterfalls cascading with gurgling water, the roads to upper Shillong and the gorgeous Shillong Peak, the Shillong Guwahati road with trees on both sides, the stop over at Nongpoh for tea and much more.
The school with its homely buildings, the school hall, where every Wednesday there were movies on a 33 mm screen, when the girls from a neighbouring school came to add to the chatter and laughter. This can continue.
The School tuck shop, where I had the best lemonade I could have ever tasted, with a Keatsian thirst, and of course the school playing fields, Sports Day you name it!
Shillong was somnolent, such that not only could you cross the roads almost blind, but the afternoons were as if in peaceful slumber and by 7.30 pm or eight the shops would down shutters. Sundays were as peaceful as only they could be, with church bells ringing to add melody to your ears. And there was the Library, which we would walk down to, to read our best books - books that have shaped our lives and thinking, books which we borrowed from, when we wrote our essays or composed our stories, some of us, budding raconteurs.
Then there was the charming Police Bazar, affectionately called 'the town' where restaurants and shops were lined on either side of the roads, near the majestic State Legislative Assembly. I could go on and on. I could be sentimental and mawkish, I could be nostalgic, only for its own sake, and wistfully long for the past. But what amazes me, and which is something which I feel has totally gone unnoticed is how such a small town could produce a bunch of creative artists,thinkers and writers who went on to get national and international recognition.
This is when I think of people like James Lyngdoh, Victor Banerjee, Amita Malik, Utpal Dutt, recent writers such as Anjum Hasan, Siddhartha Deb, Dhruba Hazarika, Mitra Phukan, the poets Robin S Ngangom, Desmond Leslie Kharmawphlang, Kynpham Sing Nonkynrih, Janice Pariat, both poet and short story writer, Temsula Ao, Esther Syiem et all. And then musicians such as Lou Majaw, Amit Paul of Indian Idol fame, Rudy Wallang you name them. Each is not only a talent but an icon in his or her own way. And how many people know it, that Graham Greene was born here, and Arundhati Roy lived here for a short while? The film actress Babita studied here for a time, and so did the writer and Padmashree Mamang Dai, who evokes sensuous tribal mythology in her poetry.
Then we have the forthright and intrepid columnist Patricia Mukhim, who edits The Shillong Times. Media people, wake up and do a small, very small 'Story"(?) on them, and their associations with this wonderful place.