Going deaf… just in one ear

As I made the transition into Assam, I found myself seeing graffiti all over the buildings, buildings that looked like they were being taken back by the spreading greenery of the state. The buildings, some derelict, some in full used, all looked as though they were being over taken by the wild. It was a sight to behold and it made a difference from the usual landscape I was used to seeing or had been seeing for the past few months.

“BODOLAND 50/50”

It was everywhere and questions were beginning to form in my mind, I would be asking the first person I found that could speak English. It would be sooner than I thought, as well as having learnt the hard way that it was indeed now rainy season in the north east. Having spent days previous to this one, continuously barraged with sideways rain for hours at a time. My ankle was now making a comeback and it was making it known that I had no place walking on it. I could feel the throbbing pain or revenge again and I needed to get off of it.


Later that night I made the short journey down the road into the town and found a restaurant that had a few rooms attached. I got in after the usual bargaining I asked him what the Bodoland 50/50 was. He began to tell me about a state that was made up half of Assam, that was called Bodoland, had its own people, the Bodo people and its own language, Bodo. They had been fighting for their own independence for years. This wouldn’t be the fist time I would hear about an ethnic group demanding and protesting for their independence, the whole north east was rife with the talk of resistance and the talk was generations old. Bodoland.

As I lay in bed with my leg raised, I read up on Bodoland, as I figured I was going to be walking through it for a long time. I watched videos and read articles and before I knew it, it was the next day.

As happens on borderwalk, one thing is taken care of and another thing takes its place. My ankle was feeling better but I had this niggling feeling inside my ear during the night and now it was hurting, I thought it was just my headphones in my ear during the night having fell asleep watching videos on the history behind Bodoland and thought that it would fix itself during the days to come.

The next day I left, staying the one day to make sure I had adequately rested my ankle and as I walked I found my ear was getting worse and worse. It started becoming increasingly painful and I started just using one earphone to listen to my audiobooks. By the end of the a few days walking I had lost hearing in my right ear. I could hear the roaring bass of traffic but that was all. Every time I attempted to touch the side of my head anywhere near my ear it would hurt so much I would immediately stop, I was like an un-scratchable itch, I wanted nothing more than to just dive in and get whatever was in there.

Each day it would progressively get worse, but there was no town near. I would have to stick to taking my pain killers that were running out and I had cotton buds (that I know were not a good idea) but the pain was such that I thought something had got inside so it, if anything, was a desperate plea to get whatever I thought it was, out. Safe to say whatever was in there was not coming out without a fight. Each evening I would have a feel and all that would come out was a dark black goo like substance and each time I emptied some of it out I gained a small percentage of hearing back for about an hour, then away it went again. (I have pictures but I imagine no one want to see that, so instead I have some pictures of scenery).

The next place that looked like I would be able to be treated in, was Guwahati, and that was hundreds of kilometres away. So began the quiet but painful walk to the Assamese capital, no audiobooks or music, just loud chewing and (the inevitable end result of being without music) talking to myself. I was once told by a friend in Kyrgyzstan that once Kieran left I would end up talking to my self having full conversations. I told him that was crazy, I’m not that guy and it wouldn’t happen. But after the shopping incident in Tajikistan, it had become a frequent occurrence. I would discuss current events, global and national, how my body was feeling, future plans, whether they be for the next city or when I go home. And I’d sometimes spend time discussing what I thought people back home were doing.


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About theborderwalk

Journey on foot from the UK to Australia. www.ArjunBhogal.co.uk

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