TODAY -

The serenade that has gone haywire

Kakai Singsit *



Life in the hill was simple, idyllic and blissful. Men were not too much bothered about their future. They work hard during the day time, eat sumptuous meals and sleep peacefully under the benevolent sky.

During night, young men in packs visited the home of girls to woo or coax them. Or it was just a platonic casual visit. This Pack of guitar-totting young folks took along with them edibles, snacks and meat for late night feast.

Since this was a part of the great tribal tradition no parents can slam the door on the face of young romeos who comes to court their daughters. This tradition was also considered safe as parents can keep a tab on their daughter’s love affairs and with whom their daughter’s were having affairs with.

The young visitors sit till late hours in the home of the girls sometimes exceeding mid night singing songs or discussing other topics of mutual interest. Girls normally prepare CHATAM (sugar-free) tea for the visitors.

It was presumed that if a girl offers you cold tea that means she wants you to leave early and your quest is given the cold shoulder. If she offers you hot tea that demonstrates her desire for you to stay longer.

Parents mingled with the guest’s for a short period and left for their nightly sojourn giving the opportunity to the younger folks. In this way boys familiarized themselves with the girls of the village. Outsiders are generally not welcome in the village.

Moon lit nights are regarded as congenial period for visiting the home of girls. During moon lit nightone invariably comes across different packsof guitar totting young folks criss- crossing within the bounds of the village. This is anormal sight.

The girls and the visitors huddled in the court yard enjoying the mellow moon light. Sometimes chickens are brought by the visitors and devoured for supper. The norm is that no boy goes alone to a girl’s house. He has to be accompanied by at least two or three friends.

Every affair was to be open and honest. A one- to- one tryst was considered a taboo. Relationships were open. The whole village knew who was in love with whom. Parents, by and large keeps aloof from the love life of their daughters. If they are not happy with the choice of their daughter, they will chasten her in private but not in front of her peers.

A Romeo normally attends the agricultural chores of his damsels’ family. This was the conventional practice of the Thadou-kuki community. None will chastise you for shirking your responsibility of helping out your girlfriend’s agricultural chores but you are likely to earn the scorn of the villagers and the ire of your girls’ family.

The norm is if you love a girl you have to love not only her but her whole family. Thus, love was not private but a communal affair. Boys with mellifluous voice or hunky physique are highly sought by girls. This remains true till these days.

Such was the blissful and jolly life of the erstwhile hinterland which the youths of the present generations are deprived of all due to the invasion of modernity and the exigencies of education which necessitates its jettisoning. However, a semblance of the old values is still very much evident till today, though in a much lower momentum.

We were composed of five member clique. Felicia’s home was our favourite rendezvous. Every evening after dinner we would meet there and squandered the night away. This activity carried on for days and months. Our friend Nehemiah was besotted to her. But our endeavour proved abortive.

She was non-committal to our overture. But the modus operandi was patience. Not disheartened we increased the frequency of our visit. Now we have a rival in our quest. It occurs that our girl was showing more inclination towards him. However, she neither gave any commitment to him either. So the stakes was open for all.

As our gang increases our visit so was theirs. In order to woo her we had to help her family in their cultivation work. Morons as we were we finished the whole cultivation chores of her family. Finally she relented to our friend’s supplication. And they became what you called lovers.

Our rival was unyielding and persist his visit. This rivalry led to an open clash. One night armed with sticks and clubs we had an open confrontation at the village ground. It was the Christmas Eve.

The matter became a hot topic in the village. Feeling humiliated and ashamed, Felicia severed her ties with our friend Nehemiah. We tried to reason with her but she was obstinate and stood to her guns.

They say jilted lovers are the most dangerous of all animals. Jilted and forlorn our friend was in a very wretched condition. He took to heavy drinking so as to assuage the pain in his heart. But nothing could assuage his broken heart.

One evening, sobered we went to her house but she refused to open the door. Humiliated we made straight to the ale house and drown our self out. Befuddled we returned to their house sat in front of their gate and began to holler out famous songs composed by unrequited lovers.

It was a famous line from the ever green Thadou-Kuki singer Michael Luncha which goes;
lungsetnahichepna a ngaiton,
..............neilegouhollanunahikhai

.... a loose translation accusing the girl of playing with love and a being gold digger.

At that moment her father appeared from nowhere armed with a big stick and began whacking us. We fled helter skelter and ran as far as our legs could carry us.

I was huffing and panting on reaching safety. I must have run at least three miles and my friends were nowhere to be seen. It was our guitar which was at the receiving end of our misadventure. It was shredded to pieces by her father.


* Kakai Singsit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is former general secy of Manipur University Eimi Eelfare Society and can be reached at fb via kakaisingsit or singsitkakai
This article was posted on August 17, 2020.


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