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!)
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 -
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 -
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...
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:
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.