The gatekeeper poet



The gatekeeper poet

We were exploring a lesser known part of our country, Upper Assam, and trying to understand a little known part of our history, the Ahom dynasty that defeated the mighty moguls, which somehow has been ignored by our academics, and the classical Vaishnava sub culture, unique to the region and quite unknown outside.
But more of that later.
This story is about our accidental interaction with an unusual guide to a Ahom Palace near Shivsagar
We had declined the services of the guide kindly provided by the local administration, in order to explore at our own pace, and avoided the usual throng of half informed rapacious guides as they are usually a nuisance, but later regretted as what we saw didn’t match with what we had read up.
It was then that suddenly a security guard loomed up , toting an AK47, and asked in broken Hindi that could he explain?
He proceeded to give us an erudite lyrical and passionate presentation on the Palace and it’s history leading up to the current times of the ULFA using the place as a tactical HQ, the army flushing them out and sealing the underground passages, and the earlier rapacious degradation by the English searching for hidden treasures, the later neglect by the powers that be, and subsequent takeover by ASI, when only the shell remained.
He explained the intricate defences, optical illusions to detect infiltration, and the thrilling history, bringing the ruins to life
My wife joked that I’d better pay him whatever he wanted, as he carried a gun, but he was very reluctant to accept a tip as he said that it was his passion, as he was an Ahom, perhaps a descendant of this forgotten kingdom, and that he was a writer, poet and musician by vocation, and as his passion did not pay for his sustainability, he worked as a security guard and followed his heart, writing poetry, history and fiction, and self publishing.
He had spent almost three decades with the BSF, fighting terrorists and our neighbouring enemies in Kashmir, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, and the North East, and had to keep his passion for the arts a secret, and on retirement, had become a security guard to give himself time for his first love, poetry, music, literature and history
He proceeded to regale us with his music and lyrics, and refused any monetary compensation, saying that all he wanted was an interested audience.
He returned to his duties leaving us all the richer for the unusual interaction with the poet gatekeeper.
Soumya

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