29 January 2010

Top 10 Mizo Stories - II

6. Raldawna leh Tumchhingi

Who would not like this story? It's got everything. There's the prettily decked out bride-to-be Tumchhingi that got eaten by an ogress. There's also the typical male who the ugly ogre fooled into believing that she was really the same pretty woman he was going to marry. (I don't even know if this is just stupid or kinda sweet. Stupid because hello! it's an ogre, not even an ugly human. And sweet because despite the horrendous appearance, he married her anyway because in his simple little heart he believed that she was the once beautiful girl he chose to marry.)

It's an interesting story because in one lifetime the heroine went through extremely uncommon and dramatical changes - first she was a pretty lady, then she became food, then she was shit, then a Mango tree, then again a Mango fruit, then a Mango seed - here she alternated daily between being a seed and a woman, then finally back into a woman for good.

There's also some gore. In the end there was a show-off between the Ogre and Tumchhingi - refereed by Raldawna who did not play very fair. He gave Tumchhingi a very sharp knife but a very blunt one to the Ogre. Tumchhingi cut off the Ogre's head with one blow. And Tumchhingi and Raldawna lived happily ever after.

Read full story here.

5. Kungawrhi

I like Kungawrhi because of her unusual birth. She was born out of her father's pus-filled thumb. She was a tiny baby that was fed half a grain of rice, then as she grew up, a full grain of rice and so on till she grew up into a beautiful young lady. It's a really long story so let's see which parts I don't want to miss out....

There was this young man visiting their village who fell in love with her and wanted to marry her but in fact he was a Keimi (Weretiger again :P), but no one knew that of course. He decided to smoke Kungawrhi's father's footsteps (?) and make him sick (how is this supposed to work? I suppose gather the sand under the footstep, wrap it up and hang it over the fire..?).

Kungawrhi's father fell seriously sick, and after he had given up hope in all possible cures, he sent out word that if anyone could cure him, he will give them his beautiful daughter's hand in marriage. The Keimi took down Kungawrhi's dad's footstep package :D from the fireplace, and the dad recovered from his sickness immediately and as promised, gave him his daughter.

The Keimi was taking Kungawrhi to his Keimi village but on the way, they came upon a flooded river making it impossible to cross (not for tigers though). So the Keimi turned into a tiger, told his wife to hang on to his tail and swam across with her hanging on for dear life. But there was a little old woman nearby who saw it all and ran home to report all that she had witnessed in the forest. (One also feels compelled to wonder what this little old woman was doing all alone so deep in the forest).

Anyway, when Kungawrhi's father realised that he had just married off his daughter to a Keimi, he sent out word yet again that anyone who rescue her daughter would have her hand in marriage. Two young men Pathira and Hrangchala (?) set out to rescue her and it's full of magical adventure - a trip to the Keimi village, there were also 'rock seeds,' 'water seeds,' and 'thorn seeds' that they used to ward off the pursuing Keimi while fleeing from the Keimi village.

On their way home to their village, Kungawrhi was stolen by Khuavangs (spirits) and was dragged below to their underground village. (See pic - this is called Kungawrhi's cave and is supposedly where the Khuavangs dragged her down. It is located between the villages of Farkawn and Vaphai in Mizoram)Pathira and Hrangchala once again ventured into the underworld to rescue her, and when they were getting out the cowardly Hrangchala cut off the vine they used to climb out after he and Kungawrhi got out, trapping Pathira in the Khuavang village. He stayed there and married and had kids while he planted a new vine and waited for it to grow.

When the plant was tall enough, he escaped and went back to their village, beheaded Hrangchala's head in rage while he was sitting right next to Kungawrhi. He married Kungawrhi since her husband was now headless :P The only thing that bothers me about this story is that Kungawrhi sounds like she may have been a bit retarded.

4. Chawngchilhi

And next, something a little scandalous. Chawngchilhi had an affair with a serpent and was so obsessed with her lover that she would even deny her little sister her food so the serpent could eat. Every day Chawngchilhi and her sister (who is disappointingly nameless by the way) would go to their farm, and when it was lunchtime she would send her little sister to go call the serpent. The sister would go out on the hill and call -

Rulpui aw, rulpui aw
Ka nu'n zuang rawh a ti, ka pa'n zuang rawh a ti

And the serpent would reply from the adjacent hill -

Ka zuang nang e, ka zuang nang e
Bahsam ka zial lai tak a
Bah diar ka khim lai tak a

And then he could be heard slithering through the forest, closer and closer till he reached their hut and settled in a huge coil on the floor. Then they would eat, and when the little sister tried to help herself to the meat, Chawngchilhi would tell the serpent "Rula, bite her!" And so because she never got enough food she grew very thin.

Their father when he saw how thin his younger daughter had become was understandably concerned and asked her why. Because she was afraid of her sister and the serpent, she refused to tell him but in the end he managed to pry out from her the whole story about her sister and her illicit relationship with the serpent.

The angry father made Chawngchilhi stay home one day, telling her she works so hard on the farm every day he wanted her to rest. He went to the farm with the younger sister, and when it was lunchtime, he made the daughter call the serpent so she went to the hill and called him the usual way. The serpent also responded and came slithering as usual..only to have his head cut off by the father's waiting machete. He cut the snake up, left the head in the fireplace and went home.

The next day Chawngchilhi and her sister went back to the farm as usual. She was in high spirits as she missed the snake terribly. When it was time for lunch, she told her sister to call him. But when the snake did not come, she sent her sister out to call him yet again but when he still failed to show up, she decided to go out and call him herself.

When she stepped out, she suddenly saw all the snake's intestines wrapped around the brinjal plant outside their hut, and as she went around, she saw the entrails that her father had wrapped around other plants and over the roof I think...She realised that her father had killed her lover and weeping went back inside the hut where she found the snake's head on the fireplace.

Now comes the really weird part - she took the head and stuffed it up between her legs! She went home with the snake's head tucked in her crotch but she found her father lying across the front door. She asked her father to move and he said it was okay, she could just step over him. She then said she couldn't do that as she was menstruating, and the father said "Who cares if it's my own daughter's blood" (Very disturbing!)

Finally she stepped over her father, and the head fell out of her crotch and knocked out her father's tooth. The angry father then got up, grabbed his knife and cut open Chawngchilhi's stomach. Apparently, she was pregnant with the snake's babies and hundreds of baby snakes spilled out of her stomach. Everybody went about killing the snakes, but one snake escaped and grew big and..am I confused?..but I think this snake became part of another story..

(Interestingly, I once saw a Thai movie, at least I think it was Thai, that was almost exactly similar to this Chawngchilhi story, but in the movie the snake would turn into a handsome man.)


Now compare these characters with the Snow Whites and Cinderellas and even their evil witches seem so benign and they all become so dull and uninteresting as compared to our stories :-)

*p.s - Kungawrhi hero khi Phawthira a ni zawk e (thanks to azassk). A dik lo chu rawn report zel rawh u.

28 January 2010

Top 10 Mizo stories - I

It's lunchtime and it's one of those days where the old brain refuses to function and it's impossible to put the equally old mind to work so I'm going to give myself a couple of hours' break and blog about these stories instead.

This is my top 10, based entirely on my personal opinion. Most are regular folktales, one is actually fact, and some are debatable :) Also, all 10 of them in one post is going to be very lengthy and too much of work so I'm going to break the list up into several posts. Let's start with number 10 - 7 on this post. I have the top 10 ready, but I'll have to wait for the next unproductive day to write about # 6 to 1.

Another debatable issue will be the accuracy of these stories. I am old and my memory is rusty and these are stories told to me decades and decades ago so it's going to be a bit like writing about a dream I had when I was a kid :)

10. Liandova te unau

This list wouldn't be complete without a rags to riches story. The story is about two orphaned, poverty stricken brothers Liandova and Tuaisiala. The brothers loved each other and took care of each other and even once shared a grain of rice (?) between them, I believe...

My favorite part of the story is when the two brothers while roaming in the forest one day walked on a fallen log to cross a little creek. The younger one, Tuaisiala told his brother after they got across that the log they walked on blinked. The older brother dismissed it since of course, logs don't blink. But Tuaisiala was so persistent that they went back and found that it was indeed really a python that had swallowed a 'Paihte' merchant and was too full to move.

To cut a long story short, they ended up with the slain Python's stomach which when they cut open held all the treasures the merchant had with him and the brothers went back to their village very rich men.

(By the way, I think we all know Python's don't blink but to me, this idea of a blinking serpent just adds to the magic of the whole story!)

9. Mauruangi

And then of course, mother-daughter love is a must too. Mauruangi's adulterous father pushed Mauruangi's mother into the river where she turned into a huge 'Thaichhawni Nu' - a type of fish (see pic - by the way, I found the taste and even the texture a bit similar to Sharks, very tasty!).

Mauruangi used to visit her mother in the water where her fish mother would lovingly feed her daughter rich food that her stepmother denies her. There was also a step-sister who found out about Mauruangi's mother in the river and so they caught the fish and feasted on it.

Mauruangi was given the heart that she asked for, and as instructed by her mother before she was caught, buried the heart in the forest. Out of the ground where she buried the heart sprung a Phunchawng (see pic) (Red Silk-cotton tree).

This is my favorite part - Mauruangi would go to the blooming tree and sing -

Ka nu, kur diam diam

Ka nu Phunchawng Darhniangi, kur diam diam

And the flower-laden branches would bend down and offer her their nectar, and Mauruangi would drink to her heart's content. Unfortunately, the step-sister found out about the tree again and so the tree was cut down. The tree cutting part still makes me cry...

The axe would swing, and the tree would crack, and then Mauruangi would sing -

Ka nu, tang fan fan

Ka nu Phunchawng Darhniangi, ka nu tang fan fan!

And the tree would stand up again. This went on repeatedly and they couldn't cut the tree down so they stuffed Mauruangi's mouth with a piece of rag so she won't be able to sing anymore and took her away. With her daughter's voice no longer pleading and encouraging her to keep standing, the tree was finally cut down and chopped to pieces. And that's the end of Mauruangi's versatile mother (though not the end of the story).

This story is definitely the saddest and most poignant of all Mizo stories for me. And it gives me a warm feeling because it makes me think of cold Mizoram nights and me and my brother and sister and my mom under a warm blanket and my mother's voice telling us this story and laughing at us when we'd all end up crying. In fact, I think I should have given it a higher rating...

8. Hlawndawhthanga

Hlawndawhthanga was a 'Keimi' - a Weretiger, or a Timan, or a Huger - if you please :P Or we could even call him a swinger - swings both human and tiger ways (and in this story, even the fairy way as well) :D Keimis are shapeshifters, in fact I think they're just like Werewolves except they shapeshift into tigers instead of wolves. And also minus all that full moon, silver bullet crap.

To be honest, I remember very little about Hlawndawhthanga except that he was very handsome, strong, brave, and everything a real man should be - and more, of course :) He was in love with the fairy queen of some forest, and I remember something about him breaking some fairy law so they set a trap for him wherein a massive log fell on top of him, and he was trapped there till he died, and I forget the rest.

7. Sawngkhara leh Chawngvungi

And of course, the quintessential love story of a love that is just not to be. We have lots of sad stories about impossible loves but as a lover of all things that has anything to do with songs and poetry and rhymes, this one stands out for me because of the beautiful nonsense lamentations spouted by the hero and other relatives when the heroine Chawngvungi died.

The very unfortunate looking Sawngkhara used Zawlaidi (the Bible calls Zawlaidi 'Mandrakes' by the way..a little off I think) to make the beautiful Chawngvungi fall in love with him. They married, had a child, and lived happily, just not ever after.

One day the big Banyan tree (or Mango tree?) outside Chawngi's mother's window started wilting, and the old woman knew immediately that that was a sign that her daughter was sick. She would look at the tree every morning, and every time a branch breaks off, she would know that Chawngi's health had also declined further. One day she looked out the window and saw that the topmost branch had died, and she said 'My daughter is now dead, it's time for me to go the their village' or something like that (:P)

(Beats me why she never thought of visiting her daughter while she was sick!)

So she went to her son-in-law's village, and shed many tears, and cried:

Chawngi, Sawnga kha han sun la
Lam ang lo let leh ang che ka tih kha, Chawngvung

(Sual thiam ve khawp mai Chawngi nu hi :P)
Which offended Sawngkhara's mother, so she replied weeping -

Chawngi, thi ka pek a duh loh a, dar ka pek a duh loh a

Kan darkhuang kher I ngen le Chawngi

Chawngvung mantam sumhluani

Sawngkhara was inconsolable, and kept crying over and over -

Chawngi, taitea tui a hal e, taitea tuia hal e

His friends started to worry that his grief would kill him so they decided to take him out to the hills and the mountains hoping he might feel better in the open air. They took him up on the hills, but when they got there they saw the entire area was awash with Tuangtuah blooms and this made Sawngkhara cry even more -

Tlanga Tuangtuah parin Chawngi hmel a iang!

His friends then took him away from there and took him to a different spot on the hill. But unfortunately, there too was another even more beautiful bloom of Chhawkhlei flowers (Rhododendrons). Maybe what he saw looked something like this?

Or maybe it was even more beautiful! If so, poor Sawngkhara! And understandably, this made him miss Chawngi even more!

Tlanga Chhawkhleiin Chawngi hmel a iang

- he cried.

And it went on like that where no matter what he did or where he was, everything reminded him of his dead love, and he could not stop crying and as feared, eventually cried to death.

(There was also something about a gong with a spirit but I'm too lazy to write any further now.)

End of story.


Personally, I hope I never find myself on top a beautiful hill full of beautiful flowers while I'm mourning the death of someone I love. And for this, I feel for Sawngkhara. But he did tamper with nature :P

And are our Mizo folktales usually devoid of morals or I just miss them? Anyway, I love stories without morals. Stories for the sake of stories and nothing else - pure, unadulterated stories. And to me, most of these here are of those type. And I love them all for it.

24 January 2010

Video thar!

Sanghalhriama Pa videos previously unreleased te chu release a ni ta. Han en ve teh u - Sanghalhriama Pa Kolekson - This is it!

21 January 2010

For The Google - Hindi Content Contest

First, yes, there are prizes. You can win laptops, gift vouchers and free internet subscriptions.

I know I don't have many Hindi speaking readers - if I have readers at all. But anyway - in case anyone is interested - Google and LiveHindustan.com bring you the 'Hai Baaton Mein Dum?' Contest.
Sharing your thoughts in Hindi on the web has never been easier! If you've ever wished that there was more great Hindi content online, here's your chance to spill your heart out about the things that matter the most to you: entertainment, sports, travel, health and politics. Brick by brick, you'll be building the web in Hindi, sharing your knowledge of these topics and showing your flair for this beautiful language. So, go ahead and visit the 'Hai Baaton Mein Dum?' Contest Site and click the 'Submit your entry' button next to the topic you want to write about. There is no limit to the number of entries per contestant. Let your imagination run wild and spread the joy of sharing your thoughts in Hindi on the web!

05 January 2010

Most overrated novels

Macavity and I have been having this little, rather heated discussion about this delightful little list of the top 10 most overrated novels. I happen to agree with the list, in fact, I think the guys who made this list were geniuses. However, Macavity sees a list of her favorite books there so she's now grumpy and disagreeable.

There are some that I haven't read so I can't comment on those - White Noise & Underworld, Confederacy of Dunces, and The Great Gatsby.

I never finished even book one of The Lord of the Ring, forget the entire trilogy. The fact that I didn't even finish the first book says enough I guess. Passage to India is just plain boring, I remember being extremely disappointed when I read it because you always heard about how good a book it was. Atlas Shrugged, I hated. The Da Vinci Code while I felt was not a bad book, I could never understand the hype. I'm a little biased on Wuthering Heights (which I adored) and Emma (neutral) because the authors are among my favorites. But I can see how these books can bore someone shitless as I've seen them do.

One Hundred Years of Solitude. What can I say about this book? I used to date this guy and things were going great but then all of a sudden, the relationship soured mysteriously. On hindsight, I now know what caused it to go bad. I gave him this book. I gave him One Hundred Years of Solitude, and it was bad enough to turn all things bad between us :D

We've been checking out other lists on the same topic. The Catcher in the Rye and the Pilgrim's Progress seems to be getting lots of votes as well. I might agree again, Catcher in the Rye while good I feel is nowhere close to being epic. Pilgrim's Progress, maybe because I never read it in English but read only the translated Mizo version. Or maybe because we studied it in school and I only ever read it as I would read a lesson, not as a book to be enjoyed.

I can think of several others I'd like to add to the list - The Fountainheads, slightly cheesy Erich Segal's Love Story - among others. Not bad books but whose extreme popularity always perplexed me.

Different folks, different strokes and all that so all good but one piece of advice, never give a bad book to a loved one :D