Village bids emotional adieu to Spaniard stranded in Assam during the lockdown

Published: Sep 25, 2020, 12:22 am IST

Sujit Chakraborty

Guwahati: Men, women and children of the entire village had tears in their eyes as Spanish cyclist Manuel Arribas Rodriguez left Bokotial village in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar district.

The 41-years-old Spanish national had intended to stay a week at Bokotial village in connection with a festival but ended up spending more than seven months owing to the lockdown and other Covid-19 related travel restrictions.

All the men, women and children of our Bokotial village were crying when Rodriguez was leaving for the Dibrugarh railway station on Wednesday to board the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express.

“Tomorrow (Friday), he would return to Spain but people of our village would never forget him for his love, caring and excellence,” said Biswajit Borboruah, who turned emotional when he was explaining his seven-month-long memories about his association with the Spanish cyclist.

Borboruah told IANS over phone that Rodriguez came in February from Myanmar via Manipur on a bicycle to attend a youth festival in Sivasagar district and was stranded as the nationwide lockdown started in March.

Although he was given accommodation at a government guest house, he chose to stay in a home at Bokotial village.

Borboruah, who first introduced Rodriguez to other villagers, said that during the past seven months he had become like a friend and family member of every resident of the village due to his genial nature and his willingness to extend physical help to everybody including teaching children and training young people in sports and physical exercise.

“He even worked in the paddy field to help the poor villagers and farmers.”

He said that Rodriguez was working in a hotel in Spain for ten years as he has a diploma degree in hotel management.

“Rodriguez lost his job and he then started travelling to several countries riding a bicycle. From Spain he went to Japan then to Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar then to Manipur. During his travels, he occasionally uses an airplane,” Borboruah said about Rodriguez.

He said : “Rodriguez told me that the situation is very miserable in Spain. People are living in small flats in cities, which is not the ideal situation to be. People in Spain are suffering from the spread of Covid-19 as they are living clustered in the jam-packed metropolitan hubs.”

“It was very sad to let Rodriguez go. But I feel happy for his parents who would get to see their son after so many months,” villager Dipeswar Chutia, a senior citizen, said.

Chutia said,”Before leaving the village, Rodriguez said his visit to Bokotial on Valentine’s Day could have been predestined. He had said he fell in love with the men, women and children of the village. He told us he would never forget the warmth, help and love of the people.”