What attracted me most about the garden of caves was its serene nature. After this place, We headed to Nohkalilai Falls viewpoint. According to legends, there was a widow named Ka Likai. She had an infant daughter. To survive, she had to work hard from day to night. But unwantedly she had to leave her daughter unattended. So to have an easier life, she remarried. But the second husband hated that infant. One day when Likai was out to work her husband killed the child and decapitated it. He cooked her flesh and offered that meal to Likai. As Likai was too tired due to hard she ate it all. Later when she went to take betel leaf after the meal, she found a little finger.
Her husband explained it all to her. Horrified with the incident she ran away from home and jumped into the lake where her baby daughter’s bones were left. This heart-breaking story dad was explaining on the way. I asked, “Ma what was your experience in your time?” She replied, “It was not so great tourist spot. It was just a viewpoint.” When we reach the point, it was almost a very small market place. Girls were selling handmade wooden crafts. They were selling wild cinnamon barks along with black peppers and other spices. I was focusing on the emerald green lake; thinking about the poor mother and her daughter who are resting together there. Moon said, “Around this time the falls is not so big. It’s real beauty blossoms at the rainy season.”
It is day 2. We left for Cherrapunji without umbrellas, of course. The weather was clear. My uncle was still wondering if these trees bear the edible cherry fruits or not. My maa and masi were busy in chatting about kinds of stuff like their father, mom’s school etc. Father was busy with the newspaper and I was half asleep and thinking about eating something better than potato chips. The name of our driver was Moon Deka.
He was smiling all the time and he seemed to be amused by my masi. In short, it was a pleasant day. He planned the tour for us. Our first point was to go to Cherrapunji and its waterfalls. Then he would take us to Mawsmai Cave. Then covering the Seven Sister Falls we will visit the eco-park. After covering all the points, he would take us back to Shillong. My father’s only worry was to find a good place for lunch. Moon said, “That’s my responsibility. But we will first take a short break at a nearby viewpoint.” As soon as we stopped, I, the official photographer of my ma prepared my phone.
It was a beautiful journey. You know, though the whole world knows China invented it and the British made it so popular. But what the world does not know that we Indians are the silent Romeo of this beauty. Yes. Tea. We love tea. Forget coffee, that is for imprudent youngsters. But to us, the Bengalis, tea is next to the Amrit (The divine elixir of immortality). We can debate hour after hour over the cup of tea. Falling in love with each other over the cup of tea is a classic Bengali romantic move. If I ever dare to make a bad tea my parents declares that I am a big rascal. (Which I never deny.) So like thirst vampire at twilight mom said, “Moon, I want some tea, Please take a break.” Suddenly I also felt the same thirst. Thus we took our first break.
Mawkdok Dympep Valley was that place. Unfortunately, the stall was closed at that time. Moon said, “I am sorry but take some photos if you want.” At that instance, mom posed and said, “Take good photos. I have to post it online.” Damn this social networking. Soon after we reached the location. So, do you see that small valley between the hills? Yeah, that’s the spot where we went. When we get off the car, I was quite disappointed. It is in a deserted place. It doesn’t feel like a popular tourist spot. Moon said, “It is a new spot that government has sponsored.” My masi said, “Again stairs? My knees will not be in their places. Honey, did you forget that I had knee replacement surgery?” I mumbled, “That was 1 and half year ago.” Anyway, Moon gave us sticks to walk on and we set in.
Shillong’s airport is not a big airport. It is a small airport sitting at the lap of Shivalik Himalaya. Hardly 3 or 4 aeroplanes take off daily. Even it’s terminal area was also empty. There was no rush, no extra security; as if it’s a temporary movie set. Maa and Masi couldn’t stop laughing in amusement. Maa Said, ” Looks like the playground of my old school.” While collecting the luggage, I saw there was a labrador dog sitting sadly at the entrance. It was an on-duty sniffer dog. But its eyes melted me. I was thinking about putting its head or say ‘hello’. But Later I dropped the idea. Who knows if it barks at me, who will guarantee that I won’t be put to jail under the suspicion of smuggling? After all, it was an on-duty sniffer dog.
The road from the airport to the main city is 20 kilometres long. The hotel manager already sent us a driver. At first, the man-child of our group (my father) conquered the back seat. And my mother scolded him, “Just get down. I will sit on that seat. You will start vomiting when the car starts climbing up the hill.” Oh, my poor father!! I already grabbed the front seat, my favourite one. He said, “Please let me in.” Trust me I was not willing to let him. But who will dare to cross my mother? That 20 kilometre was really mesmerising. The wind was no so chilly as the temperature was nearly 20-degree celsius. The cherry trees started from the point we just crossed the Umium Lake. It was a huge lake. I have never seen such a big water body. Looking at the cherry trees it really felt as if someone has put a pink cover to block the sunlight.