Category Archives: Tin Trunk

CAMERA-VIEWS

Namrata Pathak

I saw poky bamboo leaves thrusting out of the wall
the day my father lay on the hospital bed.
His amputated words are
silences
disfigured.
I saw camera-views coming out of his pomegranate lips.
His body a map in the nucleomed lab, small territories pasted on his stretchable skin.
Splayed across the green, I saw him smiling.

I have two suns for his smile, one for me. One for my brother.
The brown line that cuts the images, the jagged line,
Is inked in blue.
A replica of a forgotten disease
spins its dancing feet across
his belly button,
A pink lotus, creased in constriction,
Stands upright in his navel.
And between his fingers
a web of history.
Seeing too much in camera-views,
I dread not to see
the contours of a curvaceous dream.

***

namrataNamrata Pathak is an assistant professor in the Department of English, N.E.H.U, Tura Campus, Meghalaya. Her areas of interest are Performance Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Literature from the North East, Dalit Writing and so on. Her book titled Trends in Contemporary Assamese Theatre is published by Patridge, a Penguin Random House Company. Currently she is working on a book funded by N.E.H.U, Speaking from the Periphery: Women’s Writing in the North-East. Her articles and research papers are published in national and international journals of repute.

 

 

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TWO POEMS

Rony Nair

CCTV Love

rony2

Surveillance Society

Those drones can tell the color of your t-shirt

Before it’s splayed in blood.

Those maps can pick her distinct stride

Before she calls out; at your door.

Dissent can put the non-abled to bed

Before they’re seen or heard.

And cyber cells pick up your love letters,

Even as you burn your bread.

Your pulse is not your own these days

They belong to someone else

Your heart rate can be heard these days

Across an “app” filled cell.

Yet through it all,

In human dreams,

As made for CCTV;

I stay seeped in you,

As you think of me,

In tartuffery.

Can memories be held in rewind buttons?

Can Polaroids capture your ghosts?

Can a selfie stick prod your inhibitions?

Can those social networks map your pores?

Can CCTV feel the way one feels?

Can a CCTV feel your breath on me?

***

Droned

rony1

Solitude

The sensibility was paramount she said

Of feeling the pinch;

When your every step is in motion to a drumbeat

That isn’t yours.

When every impulse is to look overhead

And remind oneself,

That to be prim and proper,

Is to be viewed to be so.

Your social posts try real hard

To give off airs

Of contentment.

But big brothers don’t watch anymore she said.

They hover. They create. They Blood.

New innocents who drown;

In calibrated guilt.

Your fate decoded;

In rewind mode!

***

Rony NairRony Nair works as an oil and gas Risk Management consultant. He was a columnist with the Indian Express. He is also a professional photographer about to hold his first major exhibition and has previously been published by Sonic Boom, Quail Bell Magazine, YGDRASIL journal, Mindless Muse, Yellow Chair Review, Two Words For, Ogazine, New Asian Writing (NAW), Semaphore, The Cadet, The Economic Times, 1947, The Foliate Oak Magazine, Open Road Magazine, Tipton Review and YES magazine, among others. Rony has also featured in the Economic Times of India.

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SO FAR AWAY FROM ME

Kaushik Barua 

There’s a man on the guitar across the street and he’s out of tune; I want to shut him out but then I would have to stand up, close the window and tear myself away from these photos of you.

You’re standing with him; I can’t bring myself to say his name. You’re both laughing. You’re bent over and he’s thrown his head back but his eyes are still looking at you.

Then you’re both sharing a secret, across the room from the rest of the party. You’re far from the clandestine photographer, but he’s managed to sneak this moment into the camera. Your hands are stretched out and your fingers reach for his. They’re not touching yet, but they will.

I see you on a balcony: a low terrace running along green fields with jasmine trees. You’re holding a smile down, the photographer is in front of you and he’s probably stepping back slowly. You’re walking to your wedding. I’m in a room alone.

You look up, someone is calling out for you. The groom is late; the roast fish you insisted for the menu is burnt. It’s now char-grilled. You want to be concerned, but you’re just too thrilled about the whole damn thing. You’re coy and mischief plays on your lips (if the fish is burnt, let them eat caviar!). You’ve been waiting for this day for… how long? Your whole life? You have a great cameraman and I’m collapsing into clichés.

I’m looking at you. From halfway across the world and on a computer screen, so I’m actually looking at pixels or binary code or whatever is creating this image. But I’m still looking at you. I’m running my eyes down your entire body; I can’t make out much, why’re you wearing that loose sari? You look like a nurse in one of the photos (not the sexy kind, the motherly kind). I’m sorry, I don’t want to sound like this. You know I’m not like that, don’t you? Because I’m not one of those guys.

I want some orange juice. I want to log off and watch some football or work on my report (I’ve shifted companies, did you hear?) or try to sleep because I’ve been staring at this screen for four hours now, retracing your life (why is your whole life on your profile? Were you hoping I would spy?), thinking of where you’ve been, where you’re headed. I don’t wish you ill. I’m just shaking because it’s suddenly getting chilly on a summer midnight and I’m not ready for such changes in temperature. I’m not touching myself. That’s a disgusting thought. I don’t even know why that thought crossed my mind; it’s probably the change in temperature.

When you dance, you twist your hand in the air, snapping your wrist. Remember Goa five years ago? Our college reunion, when I saw you after years. I learnt your move too. I should have told you back then. I never did. Now you’re dancing and your guests are spinning madly around you. Why don’t you have a video in the album? He’s beaming into the camera and his grandmother has swept her frail arms around him. Is that a paunch? I still have a flat stomach. I thought I would let you know.

Sometimes he is in my dreams too. I see him sucking out the bottom of a drink, intent on the task while you look at him from across the table. I see him with one hand caressing the steering wheel while the other hand is driving up your thighs.  I see you both at home, he’s fumbling with the bra-hook and then he just tears it off. You’re stifling your moans because you’re scared the neighbours will hear. I’m at the foot of the bed. I don’t want to see you like this. I see his back thrusting up and down, his ass puckering in delight while he pushes deeper into places I can never imagine. I have something cold and hard and comforting in my hand. Your eyes are shut and his back is to me.

I should stop now.

An invitation would have been nice. I would have added some zing to the party: I could have shown your friends my tennis-serve dance move. Would that have looked goofy? Or cool in an unselfconscious way?

I don’t know what you think of me. Did you ever notice me?

There are people around you. They’re cheering both of you on: he doesn’t know the steps, but he looks cool enough to not care. I don’t want to sit on this table: this chair is too high and my back is already stiff from all the hours in office that I’ve clocked in. I think I want to lie on the floor. I should sleep but I can’t stop clicking. I know some of these faces: Meena is there and Arjun flew in all the way from Bangkok. In orange light, everyone thrusts their arms in the air but they do it so perfectly they don’t even spill their cocktails.

I’m lying on the floor. I’m done with the album. I can put my head in the crook of my arms and keep looking. I’m looking at you sideways now.

The album is done. But I can start all over again.

***

KaushikKaushik Barua’s latest novel No Direction Rome is a dark comedy set in Rome. He won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for his first novel Windhorse, a work of historical fiction set in the Tibetan resistance.

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LOVE IN THE TIMES OF CCTV

Sumana Roy

That the camera still cannot capture the mind’s hidden secrets is great consolation and relief.

Living in a world being increasingly leached of secrets is painful. There is love, that which is fuelled by a chain reaction of the creation and discovery of secrets. There is surprise, that which derives its energy from the centrifugality of secrets. There are relationships which flower only outside the camera. There are stories that die when trapped on camera. The CCTV has turned people into nations, and our lives into instalments of surveillance. There is always the fear of slippage, of a hand moving to a neighbour’s collar, a word dropped without wooing consequence. And there is the fear of moving away from the linearity of sanctioned love, of waiting at roadsides to let love gather moss like it only can.

We are now scared of being lovers, at least on camera. The camera vetoes all other loves – only the legal, love by law, must be pampered. The other love stories gather in the dark room, where they are scanned and analysed for unconstitutionality.

To be a lover in the age of CCTV is to be a criminal.

Our contributors, Kaushik Barua in his short story, and Rony Nair, Namrata Pathak and Jyotirmoy Talukdar, in their poems, write about that love, their love crimes.

 

 

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LOVE IN THE TIMES OF CCTV

Editorial Love in the Times of CCTV Sumana Roy
Poetry & Artwork Two Poems Rony Nair
Fiction So Far Away From Me Kaushik Barua
Poetry Making Love Jyotirmoy Talukdar
Poetry Camera-Views Namrata Pathak

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MAKING LOVE

Jyotirmoy Talukdar

Making love is not as easy
As shown in short films.

The pharmacy may ask your age,
The rickshawpuller, turning an agent,
Your budget for the night.
His face flashing
A devil’s smirk that ambitious Paharganj night.

The hotelier may scan bags and breasts
And how you two relate.
He’ll keep your residential certificate
For the police to scan
And your number and purpose
To double-check.

The room, you fear, may have hidden cameras
The bulbs and almirahs can be moles.
The boys’ knocks may never let you
Swell.

You may not switch on the light
And instead grope in darkness
Lest lights should help filming.
Despite the season, you may even order two blankets
After all, cameras can
Have eyes of a cat.

Devoid of lights and full of sweat
Even before you start,
Sirens saying silence is possibly  preferable
This night
To forced-out moans,

You think,
Making love is not as easy
As loving.
Nor as effortless.

***
jtJyotirmoy Talukdar is a struggling journalist based in New Delhi. He plans to return to Guwahati and open a bookstore shortly.

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POEMS

Zualteii Poonte

If this is January

January is the slow, quiet time of year
when we sit back and relax
after the rush of the Christmas season
and bask in the sun, warming our backs
and eating sweet oranges.

Not a time when crime explodes in our faces:
when young men go missing
and their bloated, blackened corpses are found
and skinny young dark men arrested
and charged nine long days later¹.
When carnage runs wild, free as blood
as crazed men burst into houses
and slash you to death with
a butcher’s knife,
when in a family of six,
five coffins are lined up
the next day².
And on the streets and social media,
church-going people bay
for vengeance and retribution
and taking the law into their own hands.

If this is January
slow, quiet January
I dread what summer will bring.

¹ On the night of the 31st December 2014, a young man was reported missing with his two-wheeler. After wide searches by the YMA, his dead body was found eight days later. The next evening, his vehicle was found and its supposed owner admitted to the theft and killing.

² Around 7.30 pm of the 9th January 2015, a family of six were confronted in their own home by a knife-wielding man. Five died instantly in the horrific assault that rocked Mizoram. The assailant was believed to be on meth.

Put Away

(For Zokunga [Pu Muma], 1925 – 1966)

The dreaded rapping on the door after dark
Just a little talk with him outside we want
The wanted gets up, steps out the house
Be back soon, you all go to sleep
But he never does.
Sometimes if they’re lucky
they find the body a short distance down the road.
More often deep in the jungle they find it
in a shallow grave
sometimes marked, sometimes not.

My mother’s brother’s body was never found,
He disappeared without trace,
wiped off the face of the earth,
not a limb, not a nail, not a hair left to claim.
Almost half a century on,
still no one to come forward and say
Here, those are pearls that were his eyes

Nothing for the left behind,
parents, brothers, sisters, wife,
his brood of nine young children.
Nothing.
Nothing.
Just the incomprehensible, unceasing uncertainty
of questions never answered.

The title is a literal translation of the MNF terminology “dah tha/dah that,” an insidious euphemism meaning killed/murdered/exterminated.
 
¹There were unverified reports later that my uncle had been shot dead at Tlawng river by insurgents who were later killed in turn by soldiers of the Indian Army.

***

Zualteii (A. Hmangaihzuali) Poonte is an Associate Professor of English at Govt. Aizawl College. She has been floating the blog mizowritinginenglish.com since 2007 to promote writings in English by Mizo writers. zual

 

 

 

 

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THE CROSSING

Somte Ralte

Moses only had to raise his staff
For the word of the Lord was upon the waters
And the sea parted for the chosen to cross.

When our land was in turmoil
Father crossed the mountains to join village grouping
Who knew settling there he would meet Mother?

Tonight I am crossing the spiritual Jordan
Those that do not, will not understand
For who knows what awaits once we have crossed?

***

Somte (Lalmalsawmi) Ralte graduated with English honours under Gauhati University and completed her Masters in English from Mizoram University. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at MZU on Northeast poetry.somteii

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MEMOIRS OF A MIZO REBEL

Roluahpuia

From a rebel to a mother, her stories of being a former Mizo Hnam Sipai (Mizo National Army) have become the son’s favorite bedtime story of Marini[1]. As she narrates her story, she reminisces of the period when they struggled for freeing Mizoram and the challenges she faced in rebuilding her life after the movement. Like Marini, there are many ‘female nationalists’ who joined the Mizo National Front (hereafter MNF) aspiring ‘Zalenna’ (Freedom) for Mizoram.

The Mizo in 1966 under the MNF declared independence and waged an armed struggle against the Indian state. After its establishment as a political party in 1961, the MNF became the main carrier of Mizo nationalism putting ‘self-determination’ as its main objective. Men and women, young and old, flocked together in numbers in support of the movement. Most recruits of the MNF were from the youths who enrolled themselves as Mizo National Volunteer (MNV). They have a military like functioning in their operations with units almost in every village headed mostly by ex-army men. They were trained to the art of military lifestyle with some holding ‘Thingfak’ (kindling wood) in place of weapons. This was then replaced in 1966 with weapons supplied from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and later on China. The journey of the MNF struggle thus concluded in 1986 with the signing of Memorandum of Settlement.

Hailing from Puilo village which is located in the northern part of present day Mizoram, Marini too remembers enrolling herself as a volunteer in the MNV. The MNF between the years 1961 to 1966 were busy recruiting volunteers and expanding their support base. This was the period when the MNF was expanding its base and diffusing Mizo nationalism to the nook and corner of every Mizo inhabited areas. As already put above, both men and women mostly the youth enrolled as volunteer. She notes that ‘I also enrolled myself as a volunteer and we were given basic nursing trainings in open fields’. The participation of women particularly was massive till the time when the MNF were pushed down to Bangladesh in 1969. While most of them may not be active in the movement or participating themselves as armed combatants, women like Marini were helpful in keeping the movement going by providing food and carrying important messages to the rebels.

As far as the discourse of MNF movement and Mizo nationalism is concerned, the contribution of women remains sidelined and suppressed. The stories of women rebels have so far been an angle which remains untouched and un-discussed in the larger discourse of MNF movement.

Needles to say, the MNF as an organization and as a government was run and administered by men. However, from the time MNF started recruiting volunteers, un-married women in particular enrolled themselves as Mizo National Volunteer (MNV). To this day, the contribution of women and their participation has been systematically excluded in the larger discourse of the movement. As we proceed, rather than trying to provide an alternative discourse, it will discuss women’s experience of the MNF movement thereby breaking the silence.

From Victims to Agents

Mizo Hills during the 20 years of armed rebellion witnessed one of the worst forms of sexual violence and punitive measures from the security forces. Civilians comprising of men and women face the brunt of military violence. The ‘culture of impunity’ unleashed by the security forces did not spare men nor women, young nor old. The suffering of the civilians remains unspeakable and to many also remains as a painful memory. Women in particular are extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. Among them, rape is the most common and mostly spoken about which is one of the extreme forms of sexual violence that further reproduces unequal gender relations. Women are therefore then predominantly viewed as victims.

The gendered discourse of MNF movement portrayed women as mere victims. Considering women as mere ‘victims’ is as tantamount to considering women as always in need of male protection. At the same time, such views put aside the women who have been part of the movement. Furthermore, the reduction of women as victims alone amount to a complete effacement of the participation and contribution of women during the movement.

Marini too was victim of sexual assault by the military personnel. Having a history of being a volunteer, she was a suspect by the Indian military personnel.. Also, as far as violence against women is concerned, rape comes at the forefront limiting our notion of violence those that women experienced in conflict situation. One could capture this when she says ‘since I was enrolled as a volunteer before the outbreak of the conflict in 1966, I was repeatedly summoned by the Indian security forces, my hands and feet were tied, I was then put before the public in such a manner’. The voice of Marini rebelled against the dominant impression that considers women as mere victims. It was due to such repeated humiliation that pushed Marini towards MNF, which she joined after a year from the outbreak of the conflict. As she note ‘I along with four of my friends were put in the jails and tied with ropes all over your body. Luck was however on our side as there was one Mizo security personnel. Seeing our condition, he asked me to call for him in the most desperate situation as he promised me to stand by me at any cost. After this experience, I promise myself that I will never be caught and punished by the Indian security personnel’.

The above narrative presents an interesting fact about the choice for joining the armed movement. The choice to join the movement was a decision not taken to escape mere sexual violence, but a form of resistance and self-liberation from such forms of violence inflicted by men. Sexual violence of different kinds in conflict situation in their reproduction of unequal power relations further translates itself into a patriarchal tool to suppress women. It strips women of their dignity by the usage of sexual violence as a strategic instrument.

Rebels, Patriarchy and the Women

The MNF as put in the initial part of the paper reflects the patriarchal nature of the organization. It is easily visible that the roles prescribed to men and women are within the boundaries of patriarchal norms. Before the outbreak of the conflict, men volunteers were trained militarily while the women received nursing training. And again, as she narrates ‘we were given basic nursing training in open fields and were not given military training but I however remember my father getting military training. As for me I on the one hand did not receive any military training’.

The above narrative speaks of how patriarchal mindset and norms seeps within the MNF as an organization. To put this forward, women therefore were tasked with the responsibilities of nursing. Traditionally defined roles get instituted in such process. The essentialist narrative which associates gender with caring is starkly evident further reinforcing the patriarchal norms. Majority of women who joined the movement entered as nurses and office staffs with a few like Marini who was a part of the army. Women therefore bore a major responsibility for caring the wounded and the injured, like Banerjee (2001) who notes armed outfits such as National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) and United National Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) as ‘armed patriarchies’, the MNF too is not free from such label. Rather, there is strong institutionalization of the traditional notion of Masculinity and Feminity. Needless to say, the major responsibility given to women testifies this notion.

The patriarchal mindset was enforced by their male comrades who consider women as ‘weaker gender’ which appears again in her narrative when she says ‘Except for few physical exercises, they did not provide us rigorous military training. Women do not receive the kind of military as men they were also freed from the duty even in camps as well. We are mostly put in camp which are relatively peaceful’. Also, in the mass surrender in 1971, women and the injured along with families were the ones who surrendered. Their surrendering was done as MNF needed to find a new base by moving their camp from East Pakistan (Bangladesh) to Arakan Hills in Burma. This ended the journey of her 5 years in MNF movement. The few women who were in the MNF also concluded their struggle here.

The role of women though rather unexplored is a crucial one when it comes to the MNF movement. Despite this, their status within the ranks both in the army and the civil line were low within the hierarchy of the organization. No women make it to the higher decision making body within the Mizoram Sawrkar (Mizoram Government) and remain overwhelmingly occupied by men. To expose the patriarchal character of the movement it is however not necessary to condemn the movement and the struggle of the Mizo. Rather, the bigger question that needs to be address is the location of women in the discourse of the movement. To put women as mere victims is to deny the participation and contribution of women in the movement thereby leading to the continual suppression of women’s voice.

Before concluding, it is noteworthy to mention that the experience of women and the varying roles they played remains mute and kept hidden till today. The larger corpus of literature on the MNF is silent on the issue of women too. The mentioning of women never crosses the boundary of ‘victims’ apart from being involved in the movement, women used to smuggle food and other supplies to the MNF rebels. Women are therefore an integral to the MNF movement. The MNF movement relied heavily too on women on various fronts. While certain notions of womanhood were magnified, yet, women’s rebel like Marini breaks such the essentialize notion of womanhood or feminity by choosing to rebel.

***

[1] The name of the respondent (narrator) is changed.

***

Puia-PhotoRoluahpuia is currently pursuing his doctorate degree at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), North-East Regional Campus (NERC), Guwahati. His doctoral research is about nationalism studies, with special focus on the case of Mizo nationalism under Mizo National Front (MNF). His areas of interest include issues related to ethnicity, nationalism and violence. Apart from this, he also works on various projects under the Autonomous Council of Manipur.

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RAMBUAI LITERATURE

Margaret Ch. Zama

Rambuai literature, literally translated, means literature of the ‘troubled land’, and this nomenclature is seen as most suitable for the purpose of this review as the intention is to be as inclusive as possible. This is to say, the fiction, non-fiction, songs and poems that have been generated by the troubled history of the Mizo National Front movement, be they MNF or non-MNF narratives, are included in the composition of this genre that is growing and likely to continue to do so in the years to come. The use of the terms ‘insurgency’ or ‘resistance’ literature/writing is avoided as these are found to be limiting and in several ways politically incorrect, for these terms can be seen as denoting an underlying implication of condemnation of an ideology that others have sacrificed their lives for, or died in the countering of it.

As with other conflicts throughout world history, the Mizo ‘rambuai’ conflict too had its supporters and detractors, the hardliners and those who tried to tread the middle path. There are also crucial questions to which there are several answers – questions such as why, where, who were the real victims, who were those responsible and the like. And as with other conflicts, there is always a suppressed voice which none dare to foreground. The sufferings caused by army atrocities were many, but so were those undergone in the hands of the underground and yet, most narratives remain untold. But with the passing of time, there comes a strong desire to set certain records straight, to retell histories, do justice to those no more, and to provide an unbiased history for the future generation. The Mizoram Upa Pawl (MUP), an association of senior citizens of Mizoram, have begun the process of this recovery of untold stories through 2 volumes entitled Rambuai Lai leh Kei (the troubled years and me) published in 2010 and 2014. More are expected in the future from this generation who underwent the entire experience of the troubled times to survive and tell their stories.

Before moving into a review of the songs/poems and fiction generated by ‘rambuai’, a brief review of the non-fiction is hereby given. There are layers of work and great potential for further research and study, and this review while attempting to be as inclusive as possible, will at the same time focus on key features only.

While focusing on a given period of Mizo history beginning 1st March 1966, it is crucial to recall the political propaganda that came into the public domain through booklets/ pamphlets, and of course songs. A few of such booklets/pamphlets that we can consider forerunners to ‘rambuai literature’ were Zalenna Thuchah No.1. (1962) and Zalenna Thuchah No.2. (1963) (message of freedom), the authorship of which is credited to MNF President Laldenga. To counter their ideology the Mizo Union issued pamphlets like Politics kal Sual lakah Fimkhur a Ngai and Independent Thua Mizo Union Thupuan (1963) which cautioned the public against the deviant politics of secession from the Indian Union, of the MNF.

One of the books considered by many to be a book of MNF ideology is erstwhile MNF Foreign Minister /Secretary Lalhmingthanga’s book Exodus Politics (1965). Others are former Defence Minister R. Zamawia’s book Zofate Zinkawngah Zalenna Mei a Mit Tur ani Lo (2007), former Information Minister Ngurkunga’s work Political Diary of Ngurkunga which was not printed but cyclostyled (date unknown), PB Rosanga’s book Insurgency in Mizoram (1980), Biakchhunga’s book Hnam Kalsiam (1996), Chawngzuala’s Ka Hringnun Zinkawng (1998), Zoramthanga’s book Zoram Zalenna Lungphum (1980) and Mizo Hnam Hlabu (patriotic Mizo songbook) published by the self-styled Ministry of Publicity of the underground Govt. of Mizoram in 1981. Incidentally, Exodus Politics was a book that was seized by the Indian Army during the time, according to the foreword of the revised edition.

In The Dagger Brigade by Nirmal Nibedon, we are told that “On 28th January (1967) the Assam Government announced amnesty and littered the jungles with leaflets” (112), the leaflets being Mizo Entu scattered from a helicopter. By 1967 and 1968, leaders of the Mizo Union party (Mizo Mi Ropui HK Bawichhuaka: 371 and Ch. Chhunga Chanchin: 115) were already talking about the need for forgiveness and reconciliation with the MNF brothers and sisters. There were of course several incidents and words spoken/printed at the time and in the following years, to bear witness to the fact that the voicing of such good intentions did not make an impact on everyone. Even Laldenga himself when asked at a public meeting at Bawngkawn on 20th September 1986 (post Peace Accord 30th June 1986), if he would seek pardon for the killing of over 200 members of the Mizo Union Party by the MNF, responded by saying that he did not find the need to do so! (Sakeibaknei Weekly, October 1-8, 1986).

In 1974, Brig. T. Sailo started the Human Rights movement and wrote several articles to educate and spread awareness among the Mizo regarding their rights and relationships vis-à-vis the military, both in Mizo and English. These also include a Memorandum submitted to PM Indira Gandhi on October 16th, 1974 regarding Village Grouping and so on. All these writings were later compiled and published as a book entitled Human Rights Report of Mizoram 1974 (2013).

Nunthara’s article “MNF hold Key to Political Stability” published in the Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 9.50, Dec 14, 1974 could perhaps be claimed as the first academic attempt at ‘rambuai’ studies. Vol. 16.30, July 25, 1981 of EPW again published an article by him on “Grouping of Villages in Mizoram: Its Social and Economic Impact”. In 1989 Nunthara published a book that continues to serve as an important reference book in academia – Impact of Grouping of Villages in Mizoram.

The year 1986 was important in Mizo history marking the event of the signing of the Peace Accord on June 30th between the MNF leadership and the Government of India. It was also crucial and interesting for related reasons for the events leading up to, and after the signing of the Accord, generated so much public interest, debate and participation that the written outcome may be said to have contributed to the development of ‘rambuai’ writings in important ways. Some titles of journalistic writings in the local dailies and weeklies appeared to vie with each other in the use of sensational and provocative language that reflected the extremity of emotions of the times now let loose post Peace Accord, while there were also daily doses of very informative and interesting articles that fed the public.

The MNF returnees alone have given birth to several writers from whom over 30 books have been printed, not to speak of articles, memoirs and others published in dailies, weeklies, souvenirs and the like. These are the ‘MNF narratives’ referred to earlier in the review of this section. From the higher hierarchy of their structure, the written output usually touches on the origins and history of the movement including hiccups experienced, up to the Accord. The output from the ranks usually dwell on the action component, in particular between the years 1966-1971 considered to be the most violent period of the movement. The approach and writing style as well as the content of these works often reflect the level of, or lack of, formal education on the part of many of the writers. Many of the writings romanticize and valorize the movement while remaining silent on the resultant sufferings of the people, and at times, attempting to gloss over or justify several incidents that have not reflected well on them or the movement.

It was K. Hawla Sailo, former underground, who expressed a strong opinion on the fact that history is biased and incomplete when it is written from one aspect only. In his book Mi An Ve Nan (to be like others) 2007, he admits that admitting the many wrongs committed by him and his compatriots is a difficult and shameful thing to do, but if the wrongs are not admitted by those who actually underwent and experienced it, others will later misinterpret history, and this will not be a good thing (139).

‘MNF narratives’ no doubt offer some very interesting fare, but ‘rambuai’ literature does not end here. There are still many unwritten records of silent voices that refuse to speak out till date from both sides of the fence, for reasons best known to them. It also includes the flip side of many a story, the ‘non-MNF narrative’ emanating from pastors, church elders, pensioners, ex-servicemen, politicians, former bureaucrats, school teachers and all those who have something to tell, to narrate. In a sense this category of ‘non-MNF narrative’ can be viewed as the counter voice of the ‘other’. Though the corpus/output is still limited in number, the narratives come in the form of articles, books, memoirs, biographies and so on. Information provided by these writings depends largely upon how outspoken (or reticent) the writer chooses to be. The first-hand accounts of sufferings undergone by the writers themselves prove deeply evocative and provide an effective counter-balance to the undiluted ‘MNF narratives’. This is to be appreciated as a healthy trend that provides space for debate and growth besides its contribution to the enrichment of a balanced history and its records.

Several submissions found in Rambuai Lai leh Kei (2010) published by the MUP referred to earlier was at first, the outcome of the efforts of F. Malsawma, erstwhile Education Minister under the T. Sailo Ministry who invited school teachers of different villages across Mizoram, to write of their experiences during the troubled years. The submissions were kept in a file which much later got to see the light of day in this book. Thanseia, government official pensioner and noted social worker, wrote in his Foreword what has proven to be revealing about the written output of this particular genre of ‘rambuai’ literature. He reflects on the dilemma that, (my translation) one is afraid to reveal the truth, yet one is also afraid to be untruthful. He expresses the hope that the book will truthfully reveal the sufferings caused by both the army and the underground without bias, that the future generations to come will know the truth for whatever it is worth, that we will be able to trace if acts committed by the underground were acts in consonance with Mizo behaviour; that if acts committed by the army were acts in consonance with the behavior of an army long known for its good reputation, and that if acts committed against its own citizens deserved merit in any way (xii, xiii).

Such writings have critical value particularly for those who wish to learn and know more about the plight of the common man during the troubled times – who is the writer, where was he at that point in time? What was he doing? What was his involvement? Questions that will provoke some more of the ‘silent voices’ to speak up in times to come.

There is not much input to speak of from women writers. There were a number of female volunteers who joined the underground while some remained over ground to perform specific jobs given to them. Many who married members of the underground also became actively involved. Lalzawmliani is one who wrote on the sad lot of wives whose husbands left for the underground in books like Pathian Hruaina Kawng (1992) (the god-led path) and Tuara leh Malsawmna (2013) (travails and blessings) – the titles themselves are definitely reflective of Christian influence and the solace sought from the spiritual. B. Sangkhumi wrote a book I Pa Tak Tak Ka Ni (2011) (I am your real father) wherein she wrote about her father MNF MP Biaksanga. A female MNF volunteer Zaihruaii wrote of her own experiences in Thingsat Souvenir (2005). An article published in the weekly Hriatna, 29th July-4th August 1986 entitled “Ka Bialpa Ruhro a Tel Ve Lo” (my lover’s remains is not included) was written by Sakhawmawii – probably a reference to the remains / bones brought home for burial by the MNF returnees, of their fallen comrades from the jungles after the signing of the Peace Accord in 1986. Incidentally, these remains were provided a resting place at Luangmual now christened Martarte Thlanmual (graveyard of the martyrs) wherein the collected bones of 1563 individuals lie, all individually engraved in granite. Room for another 2500 is also in place. This was a project undertaken by the MNF Party over a period of time post the Peace Accord.

Buangi Sailo’s book Lunglen Zun A Zam (2008) is a work that contains her observations of the aftermath of ‘rambuai’. In Rambuai Lai leh Kei Book II (2014) we find one lone woman contributor Maj. Lalchhingi from the Salvation Army. Mafeli so far, is the only female writer who has contributed to the area of ‘rambuai fiction’ with her novel Nghilh Har kan Tuar (2010). However, in the ‘rambuai song/hla’ section we witness that contribution from women composers are much more. Some of them are Dr. Laltanpuii, Lalruali, Thansiami, RTC Lalduhawmi, Lalsangzuali Sailo, and Lalthanrengi. There is a collection of songs in a compilation made by the Peoples’ Conference (PC) Ram Kalsiam Hla Bu (2013) wherein is found several songs composed by women. Journalist Lalhruaitluanga Chawngte in Zozam Weekly, June 29, 2009, published an informative article “Zalenna sualin Mizo nulate”, the title itself being self explanatory – ‘young women who fought for freedom’.

‘Rambuai’ Songs / Poems

In order to emphasize the power and influence of politically motivated songs, particularly in the role played by them in ‘rambuai literature’, the review of this section will make a start from two important song writers / composers Laltanpuia (of Sialsuk) and Rolkunga who, in post-independent India, succeeded through their songs in arousing the Mizo patriotic sensibility with an intense longing for Mizo nationhood. RL Thanmawia in History of Mizo Literature, (2013), acknowledges the contribution of Rokunga’s songs in facilitating the MNF movement by emphasizing that such was the widespread popularity of Rokunga’s songs post 1960 that it was difficult to gauge whether it was his songs that gave birth to the MNF or the other way round. In any case, that the patriotic songs composed by him stirred the public imagination and accelerated the growth of the MNF ideology is an accepted fact, for in no time his songs immersed the whole of Mizoram.

Ch. Saprawnga too in his book Ka Zin Kawng (1990) gives particular reference to one of Rokunga’s song “Harh La! Harh La!” (1962) saying that it was this song with a marching beat that roused the Mizo youth with its clarion call (to rise, to wake up) (p 196). In Rambuai Lai leh Kei (2010) it is mentioned that the songs of Rokunga and Laltanpuia used to be sung by young boys and girls with tears in their eyes and that it seemed as if the whole of the land was convinced of the importance of independence (p 60-61). Laltanpuia had already composed in 1964, two years pior to the outbreak of the 1966 MNF-armed uprising, a song called “Independent kan Zoram tan” (independence for Zoram), “wherein he blatantly bore witness to the MNF nationalistic mindset and its policy of secession from India” (Emerging Literatures of Northeast India , p 67).

While writing of the influence and contribution of patriotic songs to the enrichment of ‘rambuai literature’, there were other equally important contributions to this genre. Even as some songs were composed to rouse the sentiments of people towards hope for a new nation, a new future, there were song composers and even prophetic voices like Thanghleia who foretold of the untold sufferings and death that would be the outcome of such an uprising. There were obviously very few takers to share such a view, if not none, for there was no room in those times of high pitched emotions, to reflect on the possibility of harsh reality. J.Malsawma too ironically comments in one of his essays in Zo-Zia 2001 (2nd ed), that songs such as those composed by Rokunga and others fell silent once the might of the Indian Army took over the land.

As the dark period of ‘rambuai’ unfolded, composer Laltanpuia was compelled to compose his touching song on the burning of his beloved village Sialsuk by the Assam Rifles on 15th June 1966. The song “Sialsuk Khaw Kang Hla” was composed in the month of August of the same year. Because the incident caused such deep sorrow in the hearts of the people who witnessed the pride of their lives reduced to ashes – a village of over 300 homes with a hospital, a post office, a Primary, Middle and High School and a PWD Inspection Bungalow, and the churches – that the composer came up with a second song of the same title in the month of December of the same year!

The burning of villages along with village groupings became the order of the day and in no time the prophetic words of Thanghleia came to pass. It was the turn of Suakliana of Lianpui village who was grouped in Vanzau grouping centre to compose his famous song “Khaw Sawihawm Hla” in 1968, sung by Siampuii Sailo in the AIR, that made listeners openly weep and came to be known as ‘hla lungchhia’ (the grieving song) (VLC Vanlalriatrenga. Pathian Thlaraua Mi Ril Suakliana leh A Hlate. Gilzom Offset, 2010). Below is the first verse and its summary for a sampling of the content of the song :

Kan huntawng zingah khawkhawm a pawi ber mai,
Zoram hmun tin khawtlang puan ang a chul zo ta;
Tlang tina mi khalhkhawm nunau mipuite,
Chhunrawl a vang, riakmaw iangin kan vai e.

(The most tragic of times ever encountered in our history is the village grouping, wherein the entire community is lifeless like a faded cloth, and people, mothers and children, herded from across the hills, are hungry and homeless like the ‘riakmaw’ bird in search of shelter).

Two-lined couplets and three-lined song compositions are not a new thing, particularly in the Mizo traditional songs. What is interesting is that there is a reversion to this type of composition though not widespread, during the troubled years. They, like the rest of the songs of the period, again provide an excellent landscape of the social and political history and mood of the times. For a sampling, in the month of September 1967, the Indian Army had rounded up over 600 men from the villages of Samthang, Zawlsei, Khuangthing and Khawbung, and imprisoned them in a confined space in Khawbung Middle School for 9 days and 10 nights. It took a mentally challenged man Lenchhuma to compose the lines below that reflects their miserable condition under heat and rain:

 Khawbung e, Samthang e, Zawlsei e,
Khuangthing e, Khawbungah pho ve;
A sat leh seng loh, a sur leh seng loh (Zoramin Zalenna A Sual. Vols 6 & 7 : 49, 50)

(the men of Khawbung, Samthang, Zawlsei, Khuangthing, were put out in the open without shelter from the hot sun, nor the pouring rain).

Again, the villagers of Ngopa worked out a strategy to avoid the harsh physical blows that the Indian Army freely meted out, by saying “ram ram sap” each time they passed them by. So out of this was born the following couplet which villagers on their way to work in the jhums in groups, would loudly chant :

Vai sipai kutthlak a na lua,
Ram ram sap ka ti e zang dam nan (Zoram A Tap : 169-170)

which means, “I say ram ram sap in order to spare my back from the heavy blows of the heavy handed Indian army.” Beyond the obvious pathos of the context, there is an underling note of subversive humour and the Mizo ingenuity to adapt which perhaps can be seen as an element of the coping strategies they developed for the dark period. There were of course, numerous songs generated by the period and composed by the MNF cadres themselves which have been compiled in Mizo Hnam Hlabu.

R. Thangvunga in commenting on ‘raltiang ram’ (ideal land beyond) romanticized by Rokunga in his songs, poses the question “is the breaking of dawn foreseen by songwriters not happening?…O songwriter, could it be that you misread the bravery of our ancestors in your people?” (my translation) (Zoram I Tan Chauh : pp 53, 54). Rochamliana Ralte in Mizo Nih Tinuamtu Rokunga (pp 290-298) enumerates the reasons for Rokunga’s deep regret and the burden of responsibility that he carried in his last days, for the tragic aftermath of the troubled times and the sufferings of the Mizo people. He composed a song that reflected this depressive mood of his in 1969, the year of his demise, “Ka Pianna Zawlkhawpui” (Aizawl, the place of my birth) wherein he expressed his sadness over the changes he witnessed in Mizo society and Aizawl town – the crime and corruption that used to be alien to the old Mizo way of life.

In contrast to Rokunga, the regret and heartburn that Laltanpuia (Sialsuk) underwent was quite different according to his daughter Chuhthangi who in speaking about his song “Kan Ram Hi Kan Ram Ani” (1964) (Zoram is our land), said, that in the midst of all the revelry and rejoicing as a result of the Peace Accord in 1986, he was enraged and said that no one now had the moral right to sing his song as it was composed for the cause of independence and not mere statehood (Laltanpuia Thu leh Hla Zirhona : pp 28,29).

Amidst these conflicting emotions undergone by song composers who through their songs had laid themselves bare for the cause, we have V. Thangzama who in 1971 composed a song that continues to be popular and touch hearts till today “Tho La, Ding Ta Che”, translated as “Arise and Awake” by the composer. It is a call to the people of the land to get on with the business of rebuilding their lives and society, and not to indulge in thoughts of revenge and anger. In other words, a song to regenerate and not look back, but to look ahead as there is a bright future before us all. (Deh Loh Sakei Huai : 118-119).

The songs and poems generated by the ‘rambuai’ period have their own individual stories to tell, each worthy and deserving of individual study. Just as the times and context undergone by the songwriters / poets are not the same, so also the choice of themes and personal leanings. It is this very variety that makes this genre a rich source of information and research for not only the socio-economic and political mapping of the times, but of the workings of the Mizo psyche as well. However, while it is the prerogative of researchers and academia to unravel subtexts and put forth interpretations, it needs to be a responsible and accountable study gleaned from careful research on the history and politics of the times and also the context of the individual narratives themselves.

  • A brief overview is provided here of more of the songs other than the ones already given, to showcase other aspects of this dark history :“Chawngtlai Khaw Hal Hla” composed in 1966 by TBC Zoramthara of Chawngtlai village. (Col. Lalrawnliana. Zoramin Zalenna A Sual. Vol. II. Zorin Compugraphics, 1996). This song is a lamentation for the burning of Chawngtlai village in which 180 houses were destroyed and an old woman Nawlchini burnt to death. This incident was followed by famine wherein the young and old were the most severely affected. This incident was army retaliation of the ambush carried out by MNF volunteers between Khawzawl and Champhai village.
  • “Chul Hnu Vangkhua” composed in 1966 by Roliana Ralte (L) of Lunglei (Leng-Hnem, Lunglei : Mizo Zaimi Inzawmkhawm, 2003). This is a song which relates the trauma and sense of loss experienced by him and his family as they fled their home to live for a period of time at Hauruang village in an old dilapidated barn belonging to a relative. He desires most by the grace of God, to return to his hometown which though destroyed, remains in the same place, the same hills. This nostalgic song narrates an experience that many families share, who had to flee their homes to seek shelter elsewhere with families and friends in other villages. For those who could, some fled to far off Shillong, Halflong, Nagaland, Manipur, and other places.
  • “Chang Khawpui A Chul Zo Ta” composed in 1968 by PL Lalnuaia (L) of Hnahchang village. (Lalbiakliana. “Hla Phuahthiam PL Lalnuaia leh A Hlate.” Thu leh Hla, Oct 1999).

This song reflects the twin trauma of having their village burnt just prior to their forced grouping at Pangzawl in 1968. (This was the method enforced for village groupings at the time). The song laments the very prospect of having the name of his village Hnahchang fade with time. The additional 5th stanza was promptly composed when, in 1972, permission was granted to grouping centres to return to their old village sites and rebuild. The stanza declares that they will now rebuild their old village never more to fade or be destroyed – “Chul lo tur Chang khawpui I din thar leh ang u”.

Songs composed on the theme of village burning and village grouping were plentiful and they more or less convey similar sentiments that reveal the trauma of having their strong link with the place of their roots so brutally cut off. Their repatriation elsewhere even though it be with their own kind, cannot replace the nostalgia and longing that is reserved for their original homes.

Other selected songs with themes that depict various other parameters of the impact of the ‘rambuai’ period are:

  • “Curfew Kara Suihlunglen” composed in 1967 by K. Rammawia (L), Lunglei. (Thuamtea Khawlhring. Zothlifim. Aizawl : Mizoram Publication Board, 2001). This song is interesting for the various dimensions it projects. It is a well known fact that curfew was imposed with rigidity during the ‘rambuai’ period and any trepassers were dealt with harshly by the armed forces. However, it is said that K. Rammawia used to strum his guitar and sing his way through the hated curfew hours with full knowledge of the authorities. Surely a subversive way to defy authority! The chorus of the song goes :
  • “Aw lunglen Curfew karah hian / Tuar I har hrilh ka thiam zo love; / Hmanah Zoram nun leh Chim loh thadangi zun, / Ngaih hian chin lem a nei thei dawn lo” which can be summarized as follows – one cannot explain the experience of the lonely curfew hours which only serve to enhance the endless nostalgia felt for the bygone life of Mizoram, and the ceaseless longing for one’s beloved.
  • “Jail Run Thim” composed in 1967 by C. Durthanga of Durtlang/Zawlnuam. (C. Zama. Mizo Hnam Hla. Aizawl : Mizoram Govt Press, 2005). This song was composed by C. Durthanga when he was captured and imprisoned in 1967. The song voices his loneliness and despair and questions if this is to be his lot decreed by destiny. He declares that he is not ready to accept such a life and wonders if happy days will ever return for him – “Engtikah her chhuak ang maw hlim ni tur, / Hei hi chantawk khuanu ruat em lo ni? / Ka zuam lo kumtluanga Jail run thim nghah reng chu”
  • “Prisoner Boy” composed in English probably in 1969, by Vanlalngaia of Aizawl. (C. Zama. Jail Run Thim. Aizawl : JP Offset Printer, 2013). Vanlalngaia was one of the top leaders of the MIS (Mizo Intelligence Service) when he got arrested and imprisoned in Silchar Jail. The thoughts that preoccupied him during his experience in the prison cell can be gauged from the lines “Someday I’m gonna write, / The story of a prisoner wall / For the sake of freedom call, / ‘Cause I’m a prisoner boy”.
  • “Aw I Hming A Dai Lovang” composed in 1967 by Chhawntluanga, Biahte. (Lalthangmawia. Thangrawiha Lungdawh. Aizawl : Bethesda Offset Press, 2012). This song is not only tragic, but contains an ironic twist to it, for the composer Chhawntluanga who composed this song in memory of his beloved comrade-in-arms who died at the hands of the army, two years later became a victim himself to a most gruesome death. Arrested by the army, his health deteriorated compounded by physical torture. While transferring him to the army camp at Seling from Khawruhlian, his escorts clubbed him to death on the way by the banks of the Tuirini river because he was too weak to move on. His song for his dead friend ironically came to be a song that told of his own sad fate. “Aw I hming a dai lovang, / Thang leh thar chhuan tam ral mahse; / Zoram chhana I tuarna hian a man tawk e, / Chham ang I zalna piallei hmun leh / Zan mu chhing lo doral karah; / Kan tuanna mual tuai ang tharin / Nghilni I awm dawn lo” can be summarized thus – though many generations may pass your name shall not die, earned most deservedly by your sacrifice for Zoram. The memories of the many sleepless nights we spent while at war, and our sojourns among the hills is renewed even as I recall the thought of you lying beneath the earth as one dead – indeed, you will never be forgotten.
  • “Rock Edict Number Thirteen” composed in English in 1972, by Jeremy Zobiakvela (L). (Ngurthankhumi. JB-a Damlai Sulhnu. Aizawl: Milan Press, 2000). One of the verses of this song expresses quite succinctly the dilemma experienced by the composer as well as many others who, as followers of Christ’s teachings about universal love, cannot reconcile with the continued bloodshed and hatred of the prolonged ‘rambuai’ years :“Why don’t we follow his footsteps of Peace if not his religion
    And live in Peace and Harmony into the future
    And then we’d smile again and say that this is what I longed for
    We’d never ever have to live our lives in fear of the next war
    I do declare I’m not gonna make no more war”In another song titled “Bad Dream” that is undated, he writes :
    “Make peace, make love, put down your gun…
    What do they do when people die?
    Who or what makes them lose their minds?”
  • “Biplobi Mizo Bhoni (Mizo Farnu Hel) composed in Assamese in 1980 by Ramesh Deka of Melpara, Assam, and translated into Mizo by KL Pachuau. (Hriatna, August 12-18, 1986). Ramesh Deka was a member of the All Assam Student’ Union (ASSU) at the time of composing this song in praise of a ‘rebel sister’ B. Vanlalzari who was arrested on 18th January 1975 for her involvement as a collaborator in the assassination of 3 top police officers at Aizawl on 13th January 1975. Her incarceration at Tezpur Jail ended in December 1980 and brought to Gauhati Jail from where she was released on 16th December 1980. The sufferings and sacrifice undergone by Zari inspired many inmates imprisoned at the time in Tezpur due to the AASU movement. The song is a salutation to Zari for her bravery and loyalty, and hails her as their role model.

Lalsangzuali composed / or gave tunes to a number of songs of lamentation over the political killings of persons by the underground above and beyond her other songs on the atrocities of the army during the ‘rambuai’ years.

  • “A Na Ka Ti – A Pawi Em Mai” composed in 1982 by Lalsangzuali Sailo (L), Aizawl. (Laldinliana, Lalsangzuali Sailo Hla Te. Aizawl : Hnamte Press, 2007). This song of lamentation was composed for Lalthlamuani, the widow of ex-MNA (Mizo National Army) R. Zadinga who was brutally murdered by the underground on 15th June 1982, and who at the time was an MLA of the People’s Conference Party touring his constituency Phuldungsei. The lamentation of a wife for her slained husband, with her only confrontation with his killers being the words “you have misunderstood, my husband is not a bad person” drew tears from many.
  • “Pu Lalthawmvunga Sunna Hla” composed in 1984 by F. Vanlalthuama and given the tune by Lalsangzuali Sailo (L), Aizawl. (Laldinliana, Lalsangzuali Sailo Hla Te. Aizawl : Hnamte Press, 2007). Lalthawmvunga was an MLA candidate of the People’s Conference Party for N.Vanlaiphai constituency. He was brutally murdered during his campaign, on 11th April 1984 by “unknown persons” though the lyrics of the song clearly insinuate who the killers were.

Rambuai Fiction’

History writing as we already indicated, is often biased as it is influenced by the context and hegemony wielded at the time. In creative writing however, the scope is more flexible and the hidden subtexts often come to light under this genre which we will call ‘rambuai’ fiction.

‘Rambuai fiction’ is no doubt creative writing, but behind the creativity lie several sub-texts that the writer embeds, and attempts to voice. The trauma and terror experienced during the troubled history, the trials and tribulations brought on by events often left untold by many, make their appearance in such writings under different guises. Though such writings can also serve as support to historical documents to a great extent, the extra-textual layering found in them which is often the product of the writer’s deep involvement with the text, affects the work of interpreting the ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ and can be biased or unreliable at times.

A few selected fiction works are given below, to once again depict the rich variety of themes generated by the ‘rambuai’ years.

  • Pramod Bhatnagar. Zoramthangi : Daughter of the Hills. Delhi : Vikrant Press, 1982. (written in English). Set against the backdrop of the ‘rambuai’ years, this is the story of Zoramthangi and Ajay Kapoor, a police officer from Punjab who dies at the end of the book. Although Zoramthangi’s maternal uncle is an underground hero with a head bounty of Rs.10,000/-, their house in Lungdai village is burnt by the MNF, and her father Sangzuala is killed by them.
  • James Dokhuma. Silaimu Ngaihawm. Aizawl : Zosys (1992) 1999. (translated into English as The Beloved Bullet, published by Katha in 2005 in Fresh Fictions). This is a novella that tells the tragic story of Lalramliani and her lover Lt. Sanglura of the Mizo Army. Sanglura dies in an ambush with the army while his death brings on a slow demise to Lalramliani who dies pining in secret for her dead lover. Embedded in the story are details of the trauma, particularly one of loneliness and despair, suffered as a result of the Village Grouping by the army.
  • Hawlla Sailo. Mizo Ngaihdan Dek Che Tham. Kolkata : Display Printers. 2001. This autobiographical fiction comes from one who served for over five years in the underground government as a senior administrator high in the hierarchy. The book makes no bones about the cruelty of both the underground army and the Indian army. It has historical value particularly about the events of 1968 when the underground army moved through Sajek range into East Pakistan, and their involvement in the Liberation War and the shameful behavior of some of his compatriots best left unsaid. The book depicts in turn the narrator/writer, and the male and female protagonists Zoramhmangaiha and Chhiari.
  • Mafeli. 1966 Mizoram : Nghilh Har Kan Tuar. Aizawl. : Samaritan Printers, 2010. This novel is located at East Lungdar village during the darkest period of the ‘rambuai’ years and voices the lot of the women who are the worst victims of atrocities commited. In her defence of the people of Lungdar, she shows no qualms about lashing out at both the Indian and underground army who perpetrate sufferings of the people. Embedded in the book, which is a product of one of the younger generation of writers, are several uneasy questions that seek clarifications on several issues in connection with the troubled times.
  • Chhuanvawra. Rinpuii leh Seizika. Aizawl : JP Offset, 2011. Written by an ex-underground member, this story takes place in and around an imaginary place called Chhinlung during the years 1965 to 1971. The actual times and events of the period are interwoven with several fictional elements that involve a famous traitor or ‘kawktu’, the burning of a school named Champhai Gandhi Memorial High School, and the relationships of fictional characters like Capt. Sapana, AO Richard Lalnema, and Rinpuii.

***

margaret-zamaMargaret Ch. Zama is Professor in the Department of English, Mizoram University. Her areas of research are cultural studies, translation and northeast studies. As a member of North East Writers’ Forum, she had collaborated extensively as a language coordinator in translating works from the region. Her own translated works have appeared in The Heart of the Matter: Handpicked Fictions from Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and Nagaland (2004) and Fresh Fictions: Folk Tales, Plays, Novellas from the North East (2005).

 

 

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