From the  Hamlet of Ngainga Rinzitphy

From the Hamlet of Ngainga Rinzitphy

A Story by Red Raven
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About foreign Invasion, culture and a true warrior

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I am the death and I live, the fire inside the dew. I am the soul trampled by life of crying hoofs which I defy to obtain. My wake and sleep in this world is but a dust, yet I am perpetual. My cry will deafen the mankind; my yell will shake the earth and my sorrow separate water from the sea. For, I am The Woman.

 

It happened one moonless night in the forbidden land of ‘Nagalim’. The Ngainga hamlet of Tangkhul- Naga community was in deep sleep when the midwife gossips while shoving her hand on the woman’s fertility to check the water leak. Perspirations after perspirations the lady of the house grit her teeth. “A few more moments, it’s on the way” the midwife grinned showing her toothless face. The rooster scuffled and gawked noisily at the spirit of the house, while the woman yells towards agony.

 

“It’s a girl!” the midwife shouts in an ecstatic rapture though she would have much preferred to see a baby boy as the Chief’s first born baby..

 

“Aaaawaahahhhhhhhhhh” cried the new born child stomping her feet’s as if struggling to roll back inside her mother’s womb.

 

A rooster and a jug of best brewed rice beer were gifted to sharwo[1]. “Oh anointed one, accept this gift and bless my daughter with so much rich and abundant spirits of life that she would outlive her generation” the chief implored.

 

“Ah!” cried the priest as he strangled the rooster. It flaps its wings and kicks its legs frantically as if the life was sucked out from inside hurriedly. When the last moment of the prediction came, the excreta of the rooster were examined. The priest took a step back in shock. All eyes were gazed blankly at the muddled stool while the priest sighed and frowned.

 

“Your daughter’s soul is immortal, she was, is and will always be the bravest warrior of all, and her wit is unmatchable. No one can undo the fate as it is already decided by ameowa, the Supreme One.” the priest revealed, closing his eyes “This child will defy every being and fights every law; every soul will be against her and will work together to defeat her yet the universe will scheme against her foe, victory will be hers always! Even at her deathbed she will rise victorious…”

 

“Warrior…universe?” though puzzled by the weird prediction for a baby girl, the chief accepted the endowment gracefully. And so, the baby girl was name Rinzitphy, the perpetual one that spears singly to win and live. Later, she was widely known for her deeds as Ngainga Rinzitphy.

 

It was the ceremony of Thisham[2], also a day to bide farewell to the Chief’s wife who died mysteriously that autumn. Panic inhuman languages, languishing cries of beasts, panting hoofs, the shouts of excitement from children, everyone hustle away to chores except for Rinzitphy.

 

Sitting on a walnut treetop she eyed her people who were swarming in her father’s courtyard. The last sacrificial animal among the mithuns [3]was dragged in the centre of the chief’s courtyard. Children were shouting in excitement while the young mithun bellowed in fear and confusion.

 

Never breaking eye contact with the animal, slowly she climbs down and walked towards her father, “Father, I want this beast, release the beast and sacrifice another animal in its place”.

 

“What has been done cannot be undone, my daughter. The animal has already been sanctified for sacrifice. Choose any of the other from the herd, but do not ask for this one” replied the Chief replied pointing at the mithun that was now placed at the center of the courtyard while some men gets ready to spear and axe it down.

 

But Rinzitphy remained adamant and blocked the view of the sacrificial animal from the warriors aim. Seeing the stern looks protecting the animal that she has already claimed as hers, the Chief has no choice but to agree though it was rare to interchange the sacrificial animal but he had to do it in order to fulfill her wish.  

 

The ceremony was done with the hoof prints of another animal stomping the Chief’s courtyard.

 When midnight falls, it was time for the departures of the dead souls. The unfertile little girls of the village were given roosters to hold as per custom. Each of them holding their rooster they walked with the villagers till veikhur, the village gate. Thila kaphunga [4]leads the procession who handed torch to every warrior to light the path while mothers whispered to their girls to hold the rooster tightly incase they were to be touched by evil spirits.

 

 The shadow of cactus plants that wards off their enemies for years seems like thousands of warriors guarding their hamlet when they reached the village gate. Strange chilling wind started to blow and there was an eerie silence. The roosters shuffled hysterically as they feel their souls being touched by kokto’[5]. The villagers waited with panting heart praying for no soul of theirs to follow the dead one. Several moments passed and finally they saw specks of torches and the voice of the dead people yodeling and marching towards westward to reach the land of death.

 

On reaching the Chief’s house one of the village elder discovered that Rinzitphy’s rooster refused to open its eyes. “The kokto’s touch killed it” some murmured looking at the stiff outstretched body of the rooster “This is a miracle!”

 

“It’s a sign showing that Kokto was unable defeat Rinzitphy” the priest declared “and in anger he robbed her rooster’s soul instead. Remember what was predicted about this child?” Sharwo reminded the Chief. Meanwhile all eyes were fixed on Rinzitphy who was sitting by the fireplace and playing with fire.

 

“It’s the day for the princess to be tattooed!” the messenger shouts while circling the hamlet. It is to let the people of the village come and witness the royal blood being tattooed who has now reached her puberty.

 

 First, starting from the chin, the royal priest punctured three perfect lines with a thorn of a particular plant placing it between a bamboo split stem. Then he tattooed down making the middle line plunge straight going way down her naval till it reach the mounting end of Rinzitphy’s genitals. She winced and looks down at the trickling blood that oozed out from her organ that signifies the fertility point while the other two gives a parting curve like a deadly snakes coiled. It circled round her young breasts seven times to meet the centre of the n*****s which will give lives to another generation, another human being, another brave warrior or another woman.

 

She lies there in pain from thousand pricks; the blood excretes unwillingly from her body. Trailing the young blood, the priest smeared hamak[6]. The trial of the tattoo seems to be shimmering in scarlet while fever shook her fragile body that night. She groaned thinking about bamboo canes which will be woven around her ankles as anklets.

 

One day Rinzitphy heard an odd human voice of anguish from inside the house of her neighbor. A woman was crying and shouting while murmuring about some vegetable that were not bartered in a right way. Some village folks hover around the door, while a priest tries hard to inquire.” Who are you?” the priest asked sternly and the woman laughed back at him. “Aunty Chanrei, are you sick?” Rinzitphy wriggled through the crowd and went besides her. Tears welled up seeing her favorite aunty in such a shabby state, hair disheveled and foam coming out from the woman’s mouth. “Some one take this child out!” the priest shouted.

 

But before a firm grip dragged her away, “Aiiieeiii !!! Please go away, I will go out and won’t come back ever but please go away, don’t look at me that way” the woman continued with tears “ I am sorry to disturb the lives of this family, but Chanrei provoked me to. I mean no harm. Please let me go and stop her from glaring at me” the woman cried pointing at Rinzitphy who was staring at the strange trance that was performed.

 

 “Those who are believed to be born in the family with black soul can never have seven circles like yours, always look out and be careful while making friends” the priest told her when she asked innocently about the behavior of her favorite aunty. “Certain clans among us whose souls were believed to have supernatural power to wander away from their Human form have three circles. And it was the soul of three circles that occupied your aunty’s soul when you saw her”.

 

The Naga society believes that it differs from tribe to tribe. Some tribes have a way to enter the body of pythons or take a form of a tiger. Mostly in Rinzitphy and her tribe, the soul can enter another’s body and have a power to torture and even take life. Such clans were given privilege to have only three circles. Their blood were considered impure and a taboo. Those clans whose blood are pure but not of royal blood were allowed to have five circles.

 

“But why was she pointing at me and crying?” she ask “She was not sick anymore after that; I don’t understand why weird things happens with me?” The sharwo sighed, “The only thing I can say is, always remember my child, you are different, different from other princesses and other people.”

 

 Right after the tattoo ceremony she was sent off to stay in the girls Morung[7] with other girls. The boys were taught the skills of war and hunting in different longhouse, while the girls were taught how to weave and manage household chores. But Rinzitphy thought that wandering the forest with her mithun was more important then weaving the traditional sarongs and shawls.

 

 One day while weaving cloths, she got so furious with dangled cotton threads and unfinished design that she plucked out all the canes that gives a grip for the threads and threw it out of the Morung. On seeing the distress and the confused mind of the young learner, the eldest of the Morung who was a spinster and in charge of grooming the girls came up and sat besides the young princess.

 

  “Well you see princess” she went on, “The outside spectator only looks at the confused amalgamation of colors and designs on our traditional attires, yet they miss that those woven multitudes narrate beautiful dreams and challenges in its raw forms. It vivified a colorful representation of her people, her life being woven together in unity.”

 

Two pair of razor cut eyes stared back at the spinster.

 “You mean I can also weave my own story?” Doubt prevail her face.

“Exactly!” replied the spinster with enthusiasm in her voice.

“But I prefer weaving my story playing with Chaoba, not sitting inside the long whole day and weaving these stupid cloths.” She replied sulkily.

“And who is he?” sweet smile lingered on the spinster’s face.

“You don’t know?” disenchanted our princess muttered. “Chaoba is the name of my      Mithun

 

The grooming years were over and at the age of eighteenth she was married off to one of the nearby village chief. But after boring two sons, she returned back to her father’s home with her children vowing never to go back to her husband. No one knows the reason.

 

As years passed by, the clan member’s once who were known as wise seems undesirable beneath her gaze. Though she was ravishingly beautiful and witty she was also infamously known for her sharp tongue, arrogant and unsavory attitude.

 

 Along with the rise of her distinction, her father’s health began to fail. The unrequited load of the hamlet appeasements seems too much a burden for the Chief to handle. Sensing the situation Rinzitphy started attending the council to assist her father. As time passed by, when she was twenty years old, her father passed away and she became the first Naga woman to hold a council and rule wisely among the male chauvinist realm.

 

 Nobody raise an objection nor dared to because whenever some of the tongue-lashing courtiers tries to defy she will carelessly flung her sarong and spread her leg, giving full views of her genitals to those courtiers, a way of saying ‘You are not men enough for me’.  In Naga society it is one of the most humiliating attitudes and unbearably choking one. It was noted down as one of the most unexceptional stances displayed by a woman in Naga history. Another unexceptional attitude completely unfeminine was her habit of riding Chaoba to attend the council.

The news was spreading like wild fire, news of warriors from far far away land invading the Naga territories. The war first started at the village which was four hundred and seventy six hills far. From there, hamlets after hamlets they have been invading until they reach the hamlet of Ngainga Rinzitphy.

 

 “They posses the eyes of cat while their skins are like that of the new born baby!” narrates one of the village youth who happens to be the first one to spot the British soldiers. “They will be here any moment” He continued lowering his eyes “And their weapons spit fires!” There was fear in the villager’s eyes and cry of desperateness.

 

 Rinzitphy eyed them with malice thought while commanding his two sons to prepare for war. “Cowards!” she spat “All cowards…”

 

She summoned all the old people, children and women of the village and were made to assemble at her large kitchen while the men prepared for the war.

 

 There was a fierce battle but they were soon overpowered by the alien invaders. Never once did they realize during the battle that it was their fragile spears that were against canons and guns. Scrutinizing the scene from her walnut treetop, she saw her son’s corpse lying haggardly near the cactus plants. Climbing down from the tree, she unyoked her Mithun and took it inside the kitchen where the village elders and children were taking refugee.

 

 “Bring me our most healthy dog” she commanded “and unbolts the door”.

 

 Sitting besides the fireplace, she started drinking the freshly brewed rice beer at an enormous speed. “Never will I be abandone or let them harm my hamlet as long as I am alive” she though aloud and chuckled “wait till they arrive, they are in for a surprise…”

 

 The war cry and gun firing sounds came nearer and nearer while inside, the cry of a child was muffled with a shivering hand.

 

 Shadows of human were seen through the gap of the door.

 

 Unsure of what to make out of it, William in his khaki uniform turned back for his officer’s command. Standing among his troop, Captain Jenkins nods his head, a gesture to open the door. But the sight they saw was something the British soldiers and their porters from India will never forget.

 

 Infront of them was beautiful women whose eyes seem to devour their souls at every gaze while village elders and children cluttered frightened on the far end of the room near buffalo’s skulls were put up. Sitting gracefully on an animal that resemble a buffalo, she hold a healthy and ferociously yelping dog on her right hand while the other hand firmly gripped an indigenously well crafted sword. Her hair which was as thick as a grown-up man wrist was tied back gracefully with bamboo cane while her tattoo can be traced down in dark blue lines till hidden by the python skin she wears to hide her bosom. Her breathing gave rhythm ripples to the rows of colorful beads necklace she wears while her sarong of red patterns parted on the side of her right thigh as her leg’s parted to ride the Mithun. The rays illuminated by the rusted sun makes her seems untouchably unearthly and eerily beautiful.

 

For a few moments, all watch her intrigued by such discovery.

 

 Jerking out of the trance, the captain took a step forward. With one swift of her sword she separated the head of the yelping dog from its body. “Aiiiiiiieyeheyeeneyee!!!” At that instance the Chief gave a war cry showing the hornbill feathers that were tucked behind her ears. The hysterical war cry filled the air; somewhere from above the sky a storm exploded sending torrents of nature’s fury. The dog’s head rolled and landed with a thud quirking on William’s feet. Nauseated, he puked out froths and sour compositions from his stomach. Fresh blood spurted out like the release of fountain from the animal while the whole of the headless animal jerks continuously.

 

 “Jesus Christ!” gasps the captain as horror struck his troop.

 

 Holding the headless animal upside down with her hand, Rinzitphy drank the warm blood with the most horrifying smile calmly. “You watch me with horror as if I am a savage. How about the lives of my sons and my people you have taken? Who gave you rights to come and destroy our hamlets?” The fluid escaped from her lips and trailed down her bosom, mapping her precious necklace and through Chaoba’s belly “I can chop of your heads easily as I have chopped off my dog’s head. I can drink your blood as I have drunk the blood of an animal whom I feed everyday. Yes! I am savage, leave my people alone or I will die fighting and take your lives along with me” she shouted and tuck gently on Chaoba’s hump to advance. Leaving tripping blood trials on the ground, the Mithun advance slowly yet cautiously towards its mistress enemies.

 

 Hypnotized with horror the soldiers watch as she flung the lifeless dog on them. Blood trailing like river stream on her body she took her elephant skin shield that was strapped behind her back. Before they realized what was happening, as quick as a lightening, she start striking down her enemy one by one swiftly with her sword while shielding herself from unknown danger with her shield.

Chaoba kicks dirt’s up to blurred the vision and confuse their enemies more, while she gave war cry unceasingly. Children cries in confusion while elders beat their chest, helpless, seeing the sight of their Chief trying to protect them single handedly.

 

 A deafening sound of a gunshot and smells of the gunpowder, shattering wails and her body fells on the ground. Some more gunshots and the Mithun lie unresponsive besides its mistress. The blood pours out only to be reunited and finally amalgamated with the soils they were born from. With the howling of the earth the grey dust settled down finally to rest along with their spirits.

 

“What the hell was that?” Phillip remarked dusting his knee and getting up from the ground pointing “I can’t imagine myself in that dog’s shoes!” Scrutinizing the scene Captain Jerking saw that three of his porters and five of his soldiers were on the ground, lifeless, headless and blood still spurting out. A few yards from him lies the most babrbaric, courageous and mysterious woman with her faithful beast, the Mithun. Later he found out that she was the Chief of the Ngainga Hamlet and her name was Ngainga Rinzitphy. “She was trying to say something…” He tries hard to figure out what it might be “She is one of a damn courageous warrior! I will respect her wish. Find out her last wish Phill”. After sometimes, without touching any elephant tusk or treasure nor taking slaves, the British soldiers and the troop walk away for another hamlet.

 

 That night far away in another part of the world a baby girl was born.

 

“Once again you are blessed with a baby girl”, the midwife sighed while Wangari dully look at the dark glistening body of her baby girl trying hard to remember if this is the sixth or the seventh baby girl she had. Waving away the curly lock from her face Wangari says, “Poor baby, she got to grow up fast and marry soon”

 

“That is the only way to escape the hunger in your mamma’s house and to escape your drunkard father.” she touched the tiny curled up hand of new born baby with the tip of her finger. She strains up to look outside the lane from her window which will be crowded with outside noises at the touch of the first morning rays. Sweat trickles down to form a salty taste on the corner of her lips while she took a deep breath and fan herself with the hem of the bed spread “This heat is killing me; god knows what will happen to Uganda after ten years.”

 
“Aaaawaahahhhhhhhhhh” cried the new born child stomping her feet’s as if struggling to roll back inside her mother’s womb.



[1] the royal priest

[2] Festival for the departed souls.

[3] Also known as Asian guars

[4] the death soul’s bearer

[5] Lord of death land

[6] Hard black clay grind into powder use for tattooing in Nagalim.

[7] Also known as Long house, an institutional dormitory to cope with daily life and culture for unmarried men and women.


© 2008 Red Raven



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Reviews

How interesting! You are offering us a piece of the eternal India, which is indeed a little bit contrary to the image that Indian promoters are offering to the world: the bubbling cities, the thriving high-tech industries and the romantic fantasies of Bollywood!

No matter how much one has read about India, it seems never to be enough. The mysterious side of India is always hovering. I guess one must live in India for some time before understanding the whole thing. The first part of the legend I like best because it is really like a tale. I particularly appreciated the use you made of symbolic numbers. One can just regret that there is not enough of the same theme in the second part. The use of symbolic or ritual animals is also extremely interesting in both parts. One cannot help making a relationship with other bestiary in other cultures.

I was so deeply into your Naga world, when I suddenly noticed the verb "yodelling" (which is very Alpine! Part 1) and the name "Jesus Christ" (Part 2). These were quite witty to me. I do not know whether these were intentional or not. Indeed, for a few seconds, they confused me a little. But then, the originality of your story got hold back of my attention.

Fascinating, interesting and totally original I would describe these two parts of your work. That is, as an outsider to the Indian/Naga culture. Am just wondering how do Indians from India see and appreciate your work.

Thank you very much for telling such original stories and good luck for all your future works!



Posted 9 Years Ago


This is one of your best bits of writing. The story flows and the structure is done well. It carries the reader through the story to the end, an ending with another story itself. I liked this. I think this was done well. Good work here, RR.

Cheers!
Doc.


Posted 9 Years Ago




nice story ...... neatly written

Posted 10 Years Ago


The plot thickens as the child delivered and the it shows its mind is stronge. The story is getting better as it grows so grows the child and the community around it. Great write

Posted 10 Years Ago



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Added on February 20, 2008

Author

Red Raven
Red Raven

Nagalim, Christian, India



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I am here to learn, share, understand and give. RedRaven is a new style that echoes with the voices of our ancestor, and the sound of the today. It's a way in which we bridge the gap between cultu.. more..

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