Laltuoklien has been working in the jhum fields since he was fifteen years old. His first jhum field was at Khawhnawng in Hmuizawl, Tipaimukh. “That place is one real rich soil I have tilled in my life,” he said. Laltuoklien said that working in the jhum fields is a “sweet but tough affair,” which he inherited from his parents, who, he said are “poor and ignorant.” “Working in the jhum fields was an inherited one and it ultimately became a necessity as we were not schooled by our poor struggling parents,” he said.
Living the harsh realities of life, the chance for eyeing other profession becomes a dry and dearth ground. To make a choice for a switch to other profession is not theirs to do. They bow to that “impossible” like hill that occupy them. The choice, then, was to decide whether to own and cultivate a bigger jhum field or whether to grow brinjal and chillies in the rice field. “I used to work so hard and I grow not only rice but also chillies, brinjal and other vegetables also,” Laltuoklien said. The farmer rocker boast of his hardworking days and the prize he beget of reaping abundant harvest. “I sow my part with all my strength and sweat, which with God blessing I reaped a good fruit. My garner used to look like a fair and beautiful pregnant woman.” Laltuoklien have toiled in his jhum field in Damdei,Tipaimukh as well as in his present village,Damdei,Vervek,Mizoram. He still remembers the richest harvest in his life when his jhum field produced four hundred and eighty trin (Tin).
The jhum fields made the rocker felt the importance of nature and environment in the face of its deterioration. “I have been toiling since I was a kid and I am slowly witnessing the soil losing its richness. The ground beneath is getting old and they no longer produce as they used to be,” Laltuoklien said. He said that toiling in the jhum fields are not worth the efforts anymore. Despite the harsh life in the jhum fields, Laltuoklien discovered the romance of the swaying paddy fields, which keep him longing for that life. “Everything was clean and healthy there. Everything was just fine,” he said.
Laltuoklien spent his farming days appreciating sharp farming tools as well as composing songs. The fairest woman in the village has been Laltuoklien’s biggest quest both in his life and in his songs. He grew up as a shy and silent human, but his love and appreciation for the tribe of the lost rib rings the loudest in his words and songs. From his courting experience, Laltuoklien have a word for the Romeos, “Say only the most important three words when courting a woman. The rest will settle perfectly.”
Laltuoklien cannot imagine himself living in a city like Delhi. “This place is absent of romance and the beauty of nature. It would be difficult to compose good songs and music out here,” he said. “Out there in the green hills and blue mountains,” he said, “everything is a story, everything is a song,” Laltuoklien said. Unlike William Dalrymple, the old, dry and weary city did not enchant the farmer rocker from Sinlung Hills. Growing up in the lap of rich and beautiful nature, “Delhi” he felt, “would be groaning with all the pain and loneliness. But woman saved the city.” Laltuoklien, although he has not seen enough of the city and its Eves, does acknowledge that women are beautiful in Delhi. That also saves him from missing his wife and four little children.
(25 November 2006, New Delhi)