Sharma and Rajesh, the two border security guards, clad in thick burly army over coats and woolen mufflers covering their heads, stood on their grounds, cursing their job and duty. The woven gloves they wore were hardly enough to protect them from the freezing temperature embracing them.
That was their job, to man the check gate at the porous Indo-Nepal border and search the vehicles traveling into Nepal for any “contraband”.
Sharma always used to crib and complain about their inhumane posting, while Rajesh would assure him time and again that they were much better off getting frostbites there rather than hunting for Maoists in the Valley.
The unmistakable rickety sound of an approaching engine woke them up from their respective motionless states immediately, and just like any other day, they stood up in full alert behind the closed border gate, one hand gripping their semi-automatic weapon while the other hand clutch a walkie-talkie, so that they could warn the ever vigilant transmitter room immediately incase trouble erupts.
It was an old Mahindra Jeep that appeared slowly from amidst the heavy mist. It had an Indian license plate. WB – West Bengal. The headlights perforated through the blurry surroundings, lighting them up in an eerie and mystified demonic way. On seeing the closed gate, the Jeep came to a bumpy halt and switched off its headlights.
Sharma cautiously approached the Jeep, his fingers on the trigger of his gun, while Rajesh stood behind the gate, already informing HQ about the arrival of the vehicle.
Inside the Jeep were four middle-aged men. The driver looked Indian, the other looked like a Nepali, and the other two men sitting at the back, well… they were of a tanned mongoloid facial character that resembled more of the North Eastern people of India.
“Paper”, commanded Sharma.
The one who looked like a Nepali was indeed a Nepali. He handed Sharma a bunch of paper while wishing him a great day in their lingua franca. Sharma smiled sarcastically.
All the documents seemed to be in order. Permission to take the Indian registered vehicle into Nepal from the Ministry of Transportation. Passports and permission for two tourists from India to travel into Nepal from the Tourism Department.
As Sharma handed back the documents, he told the one who was a Nepali, “You still know I have to search your vehicle right?”
“Yes Sir. I am fully aware of that.”
“Good. By the way, where are your two guests sitting behind from?”
“They are from Mizoram, Sir. It is one of the States of…”
“Yes yes I know where Mizoram is. Do I look like a fool?” Sharma retorted with an air of know-it-all attitude. He looked at the two passengers and then focused his attention at the Nepali again. “Mizoram huh? So they are Christians?”
It was pretty clear from Sharma’s tone that he did not even try to conceal his disgust… “Yes Sir” replied the Nepali sitting in the front seat.
After a brief moment of silence that felt like ages, Sharma finally broke the lull, “Ok. Now let me see what you all are carrying.”
The Nepali sitting in the front seat got down and opened the dickey of the Jeep. There were two suitcases filled with clothes, the usual kind of belongings any traveler would have. After Sharma quickly went through the pile of clothes, he noticed two medium-sized cartons stacked up on the side of the dickey.
“What is in there?” Sharma asked suspiciously.
“Uh… just books…”
“What kind of books?”
“Something like a study material. There are a couple of great lessons in them…”
“Open it”, ordered Sharma.
As Sharma was more preoccupied with the cold blizzard blowing at his face, he failed to notice the two Mizos sitting at the back seat nervously glancing at each other. He however noticed the Nepali guy’s fingers shake as he opened the carton but he dismissed this as a normal behavior due to the freezing nature around them.
Sharma waited patiently to inspect the cartons. The Nepali passenger was telling him the truth. Inside the cartons were tons of books. Books with a black cover. Sharma picked up a copy and read the name of the book. The New Testament.
“What kinda book is this?” Sharma asked the Nepali passenger again.
“Well, basically they are books about moral teachings… they contain great lessons in it”, the passenger repeated.
“Hmmmmm…” Sharma quickly flipped through the book putting on a discerning look. “Well I still have to check the rest of the books to make sure they are all the same”.
After ten minutes of opening up both the cartons, taking out all the books and making sure they were all similar, Sharma finally told him to keep them back inside and that they were clear to go.
Within no time, the junky old Jeep came back to life. Rajesh opened the gate and the Jeep entered Nepal.
As the red tail light of the Jeep disappeared from their view, swallowed up by the hungry thick mists surrounding them, Rajesh asked Sharma, “So, what were they carrying?”
“Uh... just some useless books, probably for a School. The two passengers at the back were Christians, from Mizoram.”
“Christians? You checked their luggage didn’t you?”
“Yup” Sharma replied, “I am well aware of our highest priority order especially when it comes to Christians entering our Country. I checked them inside out, they were clean. They didn’t have anything with them.”
“That’s good. We should always remain vigilant to make sure none of these Christian missionaries ever come into our Country carrying the Bible.”
**/ Fictitious story based partially on the true-life incident of our Bial Pastor Pu K.Thangmawia.
****/ Carrying The Holy Bible into Nepal (in bulk) is indeed banned.
The law prohibits converting others and proselytizing, activities that are punishable with fines or imprisonment.