The lockdown which unlocked the shadows

The apartment I live in shares one of its boundary wall with a well-known school. As a result, my balcony opens to the school field. With the ongoing pandemic and schools being indefinitely shut the field is being renovated. Children in India and in many parts of the world are attending classes from home – one of the many positive outcomes of technology, even though it doesn’t replicate the experience of being physically present in class.

This reminded me of my school days when we had a similar experience in my hometown, Shillong. We could not attend classes for one whole year. Those were days before the mobile phones and the Internet had happened. Perhaps, television and landline telephones were the only technology we were exposed to. I remember collecting assignments from school, completing them at home, and then submitting for evaluation.

With this thought, today I share Shonali’s story, which outlines why schools didn’t happen for one whole year. This post is part of the series of personal stories I am bringing to you in context of the Hindu Sylheti Bengalis, the community that has been been left homeless since the partition of the state of Assam more than seven decades ago. (Read my previous post for context.) As mentioned before, my aim is to raise awareness about this marginalized community. Over the years, atrocities spread beyond the Bengali to all non-tribal, in general. However, the fact remains that it is the Sylheti Bengali, who remains homeless and stateless. I do not intend to paint a loathly picture of my hometown Shillong and its people. Shillong is too dear to me, it’s my home, the place where I was born and raised. But, these are my stories. Stories that need to be told.

Shonali writes, “We left to find safety and security never to look back to those dark times which haunts us in our memories and nightmares. In many, including me who grew up in the perpetual fear of being persecuted on racial grounds, those dark times have left a permanent imprint on us as PTSD and we live with it.”

Read on…


woman wearing brown shirt inside room Photo by Felipe Cespedes on

A microbe. And that’s what it took to bring the human species down to a lockdown. We have been thrown into the COVID-19 pandemic, something this generation had never experienced in this magnitude before. Normal life as we knew it is suspended indefinitely. The whole of humanity is in this together without any exceptions of caste, creed, religion, colour, race, political orientation, sexual orientation- one and all in a way which we witness only in movies. The image of a gigantic UFO towering over the earth fills my vision. I only wish the world came together not under such dire circumstances but in a manner which was more pleasant. We were not prepared to handle this crisis and it’s almost like taking one day at a time but also having to plan and prepare for the next several weeks. Tesco yesterday breathed panic. It…

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Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

14 thoughts on “The lockdown which unlocked the shadows”

  1. Although generally aware, these posts have opened my eyes to the specifics of this problem. It is so sad it is happening in Shillong and far too many other places as well with only the place names and religions varying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Racism is prevalent in so many pockets across the world, not all of them are known. Many people are affected as a result for several generations. In this case, it’s the result of historical wrongs doings related to partition of India. Thanks to those leaders whose selfish interests have resulted in unending sufferings for generations on end.

      Thank you for reading, Ralie. Being half way across the world, and this is something that you may not totally relate to. Really appreciate your taking the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being older than dirt and having worked with the U.S. aid system, I have seen it all around the world. Alie and I refer to it as tribalism, by which we simply mean “us versus them,” whether we are talking color, religion, or neighbors, or even other regions in one country. I sometimes wonder if it isn’t genetic, if all our original ancestors feared all but their own family, then clan, then tribe. If so, every generation must challenge and correct it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again that common thread between these narratives is evident – a gentle peace-loving people who gave up their rightful home and hearth for the sake of protecting their family, yet pining for their roots, seeking to tell their stories as they happened, reliving the horror every living present day. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shonali, thanks for visiting my blog.
      I did read this article a few months ago, tells our story very well. Learnt about certain things that I myself didn’t know about. In fact, I have bookmarked this article and a few others to share with people interested in knowing more.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for continuing to share these stories. Shonali’s line “How do we not know about it? How does the rest of the world not know about it? We know about the Holocaust, we know about Vietnam war, world wars and even if one person is killed in America or in the UK the whole world comes to know! ” really sums it up for me.

    I’ve said it before – as someone who lives in a big and diverse city, it’s really striking to think about all the stories people are carrying around with them – and not just small stories about family challenges and struggles but big ones like this that we have no idea of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once again, thank you so much Todd, for reading Shonali’s story. It’s a glimpse of the weight she carries around with her and at the same time prefers to keep it aside, much by choice. And true that so many people around the world are carrying around such weights with them and we hardly get to know of those.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m really happy to know this. I can tell it’s hard to talk about and so I am glad she was able to share the stories.

        Keeping things like this in mind is really helpful when dealing with people day to day. Whether something like what happened in Shillong where many people were affected, or something within a family that only affected 2-3 people, we have no idea the burden people are carrying. And so it behooves us to be patient and kind wherever possible.

        Liked by 1 person

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