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Date of Publish: 2016-08-14

Ngaiteii's Tale

( A folktale of Mizos)

 

Long ago there lived a very charming orphan girl. Ngaiteii was her name. Her only family was her old grandmother. Her father drowned to death when she was still a little girl. The bank of river where he died became a home for ghosts. Nearby was the jhum cultivation of Ngaiteii's family. There she went to dig potatoes with her grandmother.

Once while digging potatoes she began feeling thirsty. Her grandmother fetched her some water to drink. After sometime she felt thirsty again. Her grandmother then asked her to go to the river on her own and drink. She warned Ngaiteii several times that she should never utter "how it happened" not even as a mistake. As she reached the bank of the river she couldnot help asking herself nearly shouting "how could the water become all black". Immediately she fell down into the waters.

Her grandmother spent the whole day waiting for her to return. She felt a tingling pain and apprehended that she might have drowned. She instantly took to walking to the bank of the river finding for her.

On her way she met a pair of red deer. She asked them "Did you two see my little granddaughter?" They answered, "where tui, pui and tiyao rivers have merged into one channel we have seen her there. Her father walked her holding hands."

After some distance she met a pair of kingfisher. They answered the same way as that of the pair of deer. As she reached the bank of the river and saw her granddaughter in the waters, she instantly jumped into it and came close to her. "Where is your father, my dear?", asked the grandmother. Ngaiteii answered, "He is off to work in  disguise of a snake. He will return in the evening".

In the evening Ngaiteii's father returned and became a human again. Then the grandmother said, "I have come to take Ngaiteii home". "Very well. But remember that she can be home only for a few days. She must come back. Alone I can't stay here", said her father.

Ngaiteii never wished ro stay in such deep waters with her father. She felt distressed there. It was sheer relief when her grandmother took her home. In some days she totally lost all desire to go back to water again. The grandmother too was reluctant to send her back.

Her father on the other hand turned impatient. He asked the river to call Ngaiteii. The river sent flood to call her. Floodwater then reached her home and deluged the entire village. Having had no other way people threw a mekhela of Ngaiteii, the floodwaters disappered and went back to the river.

However after a few days floodwaters reached their yard again. People threw a comb of Ngaiteii into the waters, the waters went back to the river.

Some days passed. To call Ngaiteii again waters inundated them. But its extent was much more enormous than ever before. All the people of the village were deeply frightened. They understood pretty well that if her father did not see Ngaiteii going back he would keep sending floods to the village. Hence the only way to save the village from sinking was to return the girl to her father. She

was everyone's sweetheart in the village. Left with no other way, she had to be given to the floods. The intense deluge engulfed her totally and dispersed. That day onwards the village never saw such big flood again.

Even today the people of the village shed tears for the unfortunate story of the little girl. And they sing thus:

" Ngaiteii our beloved little girl
You saved our lives
sacrificing your own
The enraged sky would never thunder
On a corner to the south
Nor would the river cause a deluge
The river had its waters receded
And became tiny since
You saved our lives
Sacrificing your own
Lament not, cry not oh dear
You are our beloved little girl."

 

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Illustrations - Utpal Talukdar.

(Utpal Talukdar is an illustrator and a cartoonist. He has completed several projects of children literature with National Book Trust of India. He is a reciepient of Parag Kumar Das Journalism Award)

(Translation from Assamese – Daisy Barman

(Daisy Barman is a scribbler and translator. She can be reached at maa.daisy@gmail.com )

 

About the Mizos -

The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the North Eastern India is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted as part of a great Mongoloid wave of migration from China and later moved out to India to their present habitat.

It is possible that the Mizos came from Shinlung or Chhinlungsan located on the banks of the river Yalung in China. They first settled in the Shan State and moved on to Kabaw Valley to Khampat and then to the Chin Hills in the middle of the 16th century.

The earliest Mizos who migrated to India were known as Kukis, the second batch of immigrants were called New Kukis. The Lushais were the last of the Mizo tribes migrate to India.

But folklore has an interests tale of offer. The Mizos, so goes the legend, emerged from under a large covering rock known as Chhinlung. Two people of the Ralte clan, known for their loquaciousness, started talking noisily while coming out of the region. They made a great noise which leg God, called Pathian by the Mizos, to throw up his hands in disgust and say enough is enough. He felt, too many people had already been allowed to step out and so closed the door with the rock.

( Source - http://mizoram.nic.in/about/history.htm)

The Assamese version of the folktale has been taken from Jajajatiya Sadhu, a collection of tribal folk tales of the North-East, compiled and edited by Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya, and Published by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi

 

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Artwork by children

 Jahnavi Bharali, Class - II, Shudarshan Public School, Khanapara, Guwahati                  

 

 

Jyotish Kalita, Class VIII, Simlitola High School

 

Jyotish Kalita, Class VIII, Simlitola High School

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