I remember the story about a Punjabi who went to
I remember myself thinking on the mornings of Tuesday and Thursday every week, 'My, what shall I do today? My English is so insufficient, my Hindi is like a mini-skirt in a congregation of orthodox villagers, my knowledge of
I also remember the day when I went to a community near Jesus &
I could not tell them that I was a student of Social Work, that I had come there to find out about their conditions and my main purpose was to try to help them, for the simple reason that I did not know how to say 'Social Work' in Hindi. I stood there like a Takam who had lost his dao. Collecting my miniÂskirt Hindi, I simply blurted out that I was there to find a way of helping them. The famine-idler became a super-comedian who just could not find a place in Bollywood when he said to me, 'Toh, paisa do. Paisa!!! Rupia janta?' (So that's it! Give us money. Money!! You know money?). My mini-skirt Hindi became a loin-cloth then and I left the place hiding my tails.
Acceptance. Confidence. Understanding. I was trying to cross
I remember the jokes of Freddie. Freddie was a darkish lad from Garo Hills who seemed to be specially put on this planet to tell jokes. Freddie had finished his College studies from Shillong and was studying Anthropology at the time. While Freddie was studying at Shillong, they held a meeting of E.U (Evangelical Union) and one Mizo boy, who was a newcomer was asked to pray. The meeting was conducted in English. Not accustomed to refusing an invitation to pray, our Mizo boy relucÂtantly agreed with feeble nods. When everybody of the meeting bowed their heads closing their eyes, our friend called out with marked unfamiliarity, 'O Lord!' Then a frightful gap of silence reigned over the meeting. Then came the next line of prayer. "Bless us!" Considerable silence followed. And a capital letter calling, "BLESS THESE PEOPLE!" Silence. "BLESS US!" As Freddie put it in his own language, 'After a lo-n-g-g-g 1-o-n-n-ng' silence, as if to surprise the Almighty, our friend ended with, 'I FINISHED!'
I remember my piece of language problem similar to this. We had a meeting in the afternoon one Sunday with Naga, Garo, Kom, Kenyan-Negro and other friends. All others except myself had some experience of having a meeting of prayer in English. Our Negro friend was so fluent in his talking that I had great difficulty in understanding what he said. While his normal talk was already quite a problem for me, he was like the chief who just had lady's finger for his lunch when he prayed! Then they asked me to pray. I never knew what kind of silence reigned over the meeting in between words, but I remember how I minced my words, how I paused after every word and how I used ordinary words and how relieved my friends were when I finished. Maybe I could withstand the laborious torment of my prayer but it appeared that my friends had no mind to repeat their suffering such agony. They never asked me to pray again.
I remember our School lawns where we used to sit and strum the guitar in the evenings. I can still hear the beautiful voice of our Khasi friend when I strain my ears a little bit to the sounds of the past. Everytime we were in the mood, we suggested that we should sing and my guitar, which was the only one in the whole hostel, would be called for. Some would go for Baa Baa Black Sheep and some would chose Paul Anka's numbers and some would come up with a number from the Beatles and some with ABBA's. By the time the initial suggestions were tried one line each, the whole attempt at singing would be abandoned and some would go to the market while some would suddenly remember some important thing in his room. Anyway, Bee Gees' 'Tragedy' always reminds me of those days and I will always remember Niraj's courage when today I hear somebody sing a hot ABBA number without any instrument nor any knowledge of musical notations.
Common room and dining hall were places of dispute. Some would prefer Hindi newspapers while north-easterners would think that such subscription was a downright insult to their cultural and social identities. The arguments were worthy of preservation in the national gallery of oratory (if ever there was one!). Communal tensions broke out, dangers of physical attack were imminent, tense atmosÂphere reigned the campus and teachers were alarmed. Funnily, the one who started such arguments and the chiefwhip of all objections was the one who only read the comic strip Laxman's Corner in the whole paper. Likewise, what meat was to be served, what curry was to be prepared and what was to be purchased were all fuses for ignition of discord. Sometimes the result could be quite disastrous. Here too, the ones who complained most about the food were the ones who skipped their meals most frequently.
Looking back, I do not have a particular desire to meet the then Joint Director of Supply at Kohima, but I would love very much to meet my dear Naga friend, Imkong. There are so many things one remembers when one looks back to one's school days.
After some fifteen years from now, one would remember so many things about today: this friend, that problem and what not. The problem with my remembering so many things is that when I think of them, I simply realise how little I ever learned!