(MY DREAM OF BEING AN ANGAMI)
It was Monday. Everything looked quite cheerful around. The birds were chirping melodious tunes. Suddenly, the bell rang. The History teacher came in. She was a new teacher who had recently joined our school. It was her first class and we introduced ourselves to her. Then, she began to start the class with a new chapter that was, ‘All You Need to Know About Tribal Communities’. The lecture began with a brief note on ‘Tribes’. The chapter fascinated a young boy, Rahul who was carefully paying attention to the teacher’ s words. But the chapter wasn’t the only thing that appealed to this dashing young boy with a mind full of curiosity. He was especially moved by the lives of the ‘Angamis’. He wanted to live a life similar to them if he had the opportunity. He went home thinking all over it. At night, he wrote in his diary on the page, “Today, I found a real chapter”. Then he stopped and thought for a moment, “If I would have been an Angami, how would life have been?” Then, he slowly without thinking went to sleep into a delicious slumber. All of a sudden, he went into a world full of flashbacks.
At first, he wasn't able to view anything. But as soon as he got back to his senses again, he saw a young boy who stood beside him staring. He asked “Are you fine?” Rahul answered unwillingly, “Yes, I am totally fine, thank you for asking.” Rahul always found it difficult to interact with people.
But he was unaware of the place he was present. Therefore, without having a choice, he enquired the young boy, “Well, do you know this place where we are right now?” “You are in Nagaland, my friend”, said the young boy. “It seems I have lost my way! How will I return to home now?”, said Rahul who was convulsed with a deep fear in his heart that had risen within him.
The young boy placed a calming hand on his shoulder and said, “Don’ t worry, friend. We will find a way out. Please don’ t weep. Come. I will lead you to my home where you can freshen up and have something to eat. You must be hungry and thirsty. Well, I am lacking a friend. Would you mind being a friend of mine?” Rahul’ s fear was almost gone by then and he shook hands with the young boy and became friends.
“My name is Rahul. What is your name?”, asked Rahul in a friendly manner. “My name is Khel”, answered the young boy. After walking a few kilometers, Rahul saw a tiny house made of wood and there were huge black clouds emitted by the chimney located just above the roof. Khel called out to someone as we neared the cottage.
A pretty lady came out and Khel told her about Rahul, whom he found in the woods and decided to help him find his way out and became friends. The lady greeted Rahul with a warm smile and told him to get freshened up. Rahul had forgotten his fear that had risen within him by now. He was really moved by the care and kindness bestowed by Khel’s family. Rahul had also observed the attire being worn by Khel. It seemed as if they belonged to the tribal community of the ‘Angamis’.
After he got freshened up, he was asked to wear one of Khel’ s attires. Rahul wore a shawl called the black Lohe. Rahul and Khel both were looking like twins. Khel’ s mother wore a mechala (Mekhela) – a wrap-around skirt and a shawl of a unique design and pattern. Then, they were served pork with bamboo shoots. Rahul found the dishes to be very alluring and delectable. After they were done, Khel thought of taking Rahul for a tour of the setting.
Both of them went out and Khel showed Rahul huge plots of rice fields and grains on the hilly terrains. Angamis are predominantly agriculturists and can produce nearly twenty varieties of paddy crops every year. The scene was really captivating to look at. Rahul was really keen to learn their culture, the local language they speak, their food habits, their traditions, etc and many more.
Khel was really surprised to see his growing eagerness towards them. “Well, our tribe is popular for our woodcraft and artwork all over India”, said by Khel as he began to continue. “People in India know us as the producer of bamboo work, cane furniture, beds, shawls and powerful machetes. We are very much fond of music and can play great music with the help of drum and flute, which is passed on from one generation to the other.
I have a flute with me. I love to play with it and create pleasant music which lifts me up in the toughest times of my life. I can teach you if you want. Well, where was I? Oh, yes. The simple and rhythmic music plays an important role in their rituals and festivals. Traditional dancing is the main component in Angami gennas. Well, you know Angami women also practice pottery at their houses like my mother. Well, my father is an expert in basket making. I am a Christian as well as my whole family and Christianity is the major religion followed by us.”
“Wow, you all do have a rich and pleasing culture. Well, I wanted to know one more thing. What kind of delicacy is popular in your culture?”, Rahul asked. “We have mostly pork and bamboo shoots which are quite healthy and acceptable”, said Khel. While their conversation was going on, an old man called out to Khel. Khel saw him and greeted him warmly and both of them were talking to each other in a language which Rahul could not interpret. He found it to be very fascinating.
Later Khel explained everything to him. “I was talking with my neighbor. I am extremely sorry that you weren’t able to understand our conversation. Well, we were talking enough in a language that is, ‘Monr’. Its one our local languages. We have others as well like ‘Gnamei’, ‘Ngami ’and ‘Tsoghami’. I can teach you ‘Monr’ if you want. It will be fun for you to learn a new language”.
“Well, not a bad idea. That would be really interesting. Oh, wait! I can also teach you the language being spoken in our region. Perhaps in this way, we can enhance our learning skills.” Khel answered happily, “Yes, of course, why not! After all, we are friends. “What a beautiful pendant you are wearing, Khel!”, Rahul exclaimed in surprise.
“Oh, this one. This pendant was gifted to me by my grandmother on my birthday last year. You know, both men and women enjoy wearing beautiful ornaments like beads, miniature mask pendants, bangles and bracelets'', Khel said. “Well, that’ s really nice. We have a number of festivals and occasions that are celebrated in our place fabulously every year. What kind of festivals are held in your place?”, asked Rahul.
“Well, talking about occasions, we celebrate our main festival which is called ‘Sekrenyi’ in Nagaland. The festival falls in the month of February and marks the beginning of the lunar year. It is a ten-day festival. Among the local people, this festival is also termed as the ‘Phousnyi’ and the foremost ritual of the festival is ‘ Kizie ’. In Kizie, the few drops of the rice water taken from Zumho, that is top of the Jug, are carefully put into the leaves and placed at three main points of the post of the house by a woman.
All the young men in the next morning in our village get up early and take a bath in the village well and they adorn themselves with the new shawls, that is white Mhoushu and the black Lohe. This ceremony is known as ‘Dzuseva’. The ‘Thekra Hie’ is the main attraction of this festival, where the young ones of our village gather to sing and dance to the tunes of the traditional music. They make fun and enjoy themselves with the rice beer and plates of meat. Hunting is another important excitement of our festival. The major part of the ceremony falls on the eighth day when the gate pulling or the bride pulling is performed”, said Khel.
“Well, looks like you all have a distinct and an engrossing festival”, said Rahul who was enjoying himself by being into an unknown world full of curiosity and wonders. “Last but not the least, can you give a brief description of your tribe, that is, history?”, enquired Rahul. “You know, our tribe belongs to the state of Nagaland which is the extreme north eastern part of the country. Nagaland has 20 tribes and we are one of them. The total population of our tribe is around 12 million. Our tribes’ territory is the present district of Kohima district which is divided into four regions, in the South- Angamis are located at the foothills of Mt Japfu, Western Angami are in the west of Kohima, in North- Angamis are located in the north of Kohima and Chakhro Angami including mostly small villages around Dimapur district. Eastern Angami has been separated and is now recognized as ‘Chakhesang’, ‘Kidima’, ‘Kigwema’, ‘Jakhama ’which is in the south, ‘Jakhama’ which is in the west, ‘Meriema’, ‘Chiechama’, ‘Nerhema’, ‘Chiephobozou’ which is in the north and ‘Medziphema’, ‘Chumukedima Sovima , ‘ Razaphe ( Chakhro Angami ) are some of our settlements”, replied Khel.
“Thank you so much Khel for letting me grasp the knowledge of your magnificent culture. Well, it is getting late. I guess we should return to your house. Your mother might be worried and waiting for our arrival. We will find my way out in the early morning tomorrow. Today, I had a lot of fun spending time with you. Would you mind if I stay in your house for the night”, said Rahul? “Sure, not just for the night, you can always visit us whenever you want. My mother would be glad. And don’t thank me. It was just a pleasure. Okay, let’ s go home now.”
While they returned home, Khel’ s mother told them to get freshened up for dinner. They both took a bath and sat down to have a delicious dinner. After they were done, Khel showed Rahul his room and told him, “Now, it's bedtime. You might be tired. Have a rest. Call me if you are in need of anything.” Rahul had never imagined having an Angami room of his own for one night. He laid down and slowly he went to a deep sleep.
In his sleep, he could hear his alarm go off and his mother’ s voice calling out to him. He suddenly woke up and to his astonishment, he found his mother standing beside his desk and waking him up. “Rahul, how many times have I been calling you to get ready for school! The school bus might be here in any minute”, said Rahul’ s mother as she went away to cook breakfast.
“Where am I? Where is Khel?”, murmured Rahul. Then he realized that he was in his house, in his room. He had just fallen asleep and that was just a dream that he had. He missed Khel and the life that he had lost in his dream but he loved the adventure that he had encountered in his life.