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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Inside the Heart of Darkness - V

Vanity Fair: While Aizawl was a glory revisit for L Keivom, we happen to be a witness to that for the first time. I cannot help but say that the city loves its small gods than the big One. It is inevitable for the State that thrives on superstructure outburst while its economic base could not be situated even after more than thirty years of its birth. Mizoram became a full fledged State in the year 1972 from the ruins of insurgency and unrest. Very recently, the authorities have taken another extra mile to declare the State as “disaster zone.” If it succeeds, the Centre’s injected money would be used to celebrate the growing superstructure culture that has lord the State. Then, there would be “disaster concert”, “mister and miss disaster contest”, and all those beautiful disaster celebration to hide the real disaster again. The search would be endless as the vacuum left by Keivom, who cultivated a soul searching journey with his serious books, remains unoccupied. The State needs to be saved by the real saviour and not by the growing idols and icons that lacks constructive originality in their entire medium. But in their search for that eluding real, the illusion of reality wrapped them through.

October 9, 2007/ Aizawl: We went to Zalen Cabin to pay tribute to (L) R Vanlawma, one of Zoram Khawvel heroes. I came to learnt about him only that morning when L Keivom narrated the lives of the unforgettable hero. The man was remembered for his integrity and immense contribution towards nation building of the Zohnathlak people. Zalen Cabin was one of the nodal centre for the Mizo National Front during their struggling days. A shelter as well as a decision hatched centre. The modest cabin, with bamboo walls, raised with the support of many decaying poles stood to speak of the movement that saw many forgotten and few remembered martyrs.

My Aizawl visit resembles an intrude into familiar museum and history. Mizoram is still alive with many of its pioneers that represent its existence today. Many of them are gnawing the levers of the State power structure while many others are sharpening their teeth to fit into it. The rest of the least active are vocally resilient lots. Acting as underground critics against their comrades, whom they said have long lost the flame and the vision that they once struggled for. I saw in them the burden of the failed State, which is dragged by blind powerful men who again readily bartered Mizoram’s tag as the “most peaceful State” for a State inflicted with “disaster.” The latter suits the unholy State in almost all matters. However, like India’s advertisement gurus, the State excelled in image making and delivering them beautifully, which seems to save its face from the stark realities that it is not even challenging. However, if the realities did not remain, than it is deteriorating. I was not shock or surprise to see many new labours, workers, poor, farmers or exploited people organizations that recently came into existence asserting for their rights and dignity not as Mizo or Christian, but as equal human being. Their birth is inevitable. The pain has been too long. The muted voices represent the collective, than the band of actors who could silence them. The ruling actors cannot ignore them for long. They won’t. Time will anyway bring about a responsible peoples’ government. When that could be realized, the State can be proud to call itself a “Christian State.”

We visited NEREF’s office at Millenium Centre, which is Aizawl’s first mall. The employees, who were all Hmars, saved my bad lusei language that I am otherwise improving. The mall also house big label stores. Their intrusion is a coincidence with the uncontrollable materialistic progress. I was wondering if they would ever deliver the bread than the snakes that the State have already in abundance.

October 10, 2007: We met Mizoram ex-Speaker, Rokamlo over tea at his unfinished house. Another interesting veteran of life and lives who is of L Keivom’s contemporary. Keivom’s trusted friend. A man confident of his experiences and religiousness. He was introduced as an academician before he joined the Congress and politics. He took his time, a good amount of it, justifying his stray into politics when the State runs out of productive intellectuals. The State treasury seems to be the biggest pull factor for the band of politicians, surrogate sons of the gregarious bamboo flowering. His justification could be related to Hobbes’ “State of Nature” where man was portrayed as ‘naturally selfish egoistic and self-interested’ seeking always for ‘more intense delight.’ However, Rokamlo was branded for his honesty, uprightness and clean hands during his political career for which his eyes glow with restricted pride that sometimes almost spill when the MNF government or Lalthanhawla’s reputations are crucified. His silent, but affirming smiles, sometimes, are louder than his calculative words that were carefully dressed to impress and convince his guests. His honesty seems unmerciful than the truth itself. And he seems to love to speak them louder without any dread of lies. He was also full of humour. But rarely celebrates his well crafted humour. He gave his long unseen and new guests a good amount of time to cherish his words. The humours are, but, sharper than any swords for his enemies if he would have any. But his free attitude says that he was not with any of his enemies when we met him that afternoon. His wife, the daughter of one of Mizoram’s wealthiest businessman Pachhunga, a Hmar, known for her cooking skill seems to have added more flab to his uncontrolled waistline. But Pu Rokamlo never seem to lack the energy to give another good run for the teeming power hungry actors who have designed to climb the power ladder next year. Mizoram could certainly do better with fortunate son like him.

Aizawl Post Editor, Lalrambuotsai took Hrangthangvung and I for a sightseeing. We went to see the famous “Mizoram Taj Mahal.” A heavy structure with a heavier cross that weigh like a burden. The rare structure was built in memory of (L) Rosangpuii Varte by his husband, Khawlhring. The structure was beautiful as it was born out of love. I realize again that only love is beautiful here on earth. We were taken to Aizawl Theological College and then to Beraw Tlang where Isaac L Hmar was murdered. The mount is also called Golgotha by the locals. Isaac was not the first mortal to die in that beautiful mount. It was all unfortunate, but it was a lonely and beautiful place to take the long sleep.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Inside the Heart of Darkness – III

Zoram Khawvel
Though the popular search for icon and idol has become an endless affair in Mizoram, the State has not forgotten L Keivom, one of the biggest towering small gods. Mizoram’s memory for the acclaimed writer is never short. I observed that public memory is not short, not at least for the Zoram Khawvel author. His presence was news. He was sought after. Invited. Desired. Worship. Respected. He was also served. Fed. And also criticized, she said, after we left the mountain city, for his honest views on the vanity of imposing total prohibition in Mizoram.

The issue of total prohibition would face a humpty dumpty fall if it were the agenda for any politicians aspiring to score extra mileage in Mizoram. It would get a deservingly democratic vote to be out of Mizoram’s worry. Despite that it is one of the hottest underground debate. I was wondering why it could still exist when the collective, including the leadership, did not really like it. I thought of few reasons. First, the people do not really seem to care about the “total prohibition” when the prohibited fluid flows like milk and honey in Christian’s imagined “holy land.” The “total prohibition” seems to rule, but the people are not in want of that “holy water” for which it was made. However, they shall not be in want ever. Second, Mizoram is a state in image making process, so the “total prohibition” tag goes well with the “Christian state” that it sealed for itself. For it, the image is more beautiful than the real. The State, no doubt, is successful in scoring image. But when it comes to the real, the Pandora box would be gnawed open by the worms itself. The State’s foundation is cemented by the superficial superstructure culture that mesmerized the reasonable as well as the unreasonable lots. That does not leave behind the sinners as well as the holy, if there is any. The third reason, for the last, is simple. The water can flow, so it exists.

A little after five minutes of our check-in in the State guest house, two journalist from one of Mizoram’s biggest local magazine, Zozam, came to meet its unforgettable son. I sat and listened to the interview. Their first question was why Keivom translated the Bible in Hmar and not in Mizo, and whether that negates his cherished vision of Zoram Khawvel? The question that follows was what Keivom felt about the “total prohibition” in Mizoram? In short, Keivom’s response to the latter was that the archaic law was a na├»ve and immature response to the progress of any civilisation, which is rather a failed and invalid experience in various societies that witness such imposition. Keivom, once again, opened the lid of the people’s silent concern. To add salt to the unseen wounds, he also said that the Old Testament would lost its meaning if wine is remove from all its usage. That has to say that the Holy Book has its source in the holy water. Whatever is, the ancient law, the concern and the question reflect that the unholy State is severely thirsty. I believe the concern is more with the soaring price in the black market rather than the absence of the holy water. The “Christian State” ought to pray not only for the drinkers but also for the self-supposed holy mortals who should wake up to the menace of the black market that is hatched by the State itself.

Christmas City
Night embraced the mountain city to make it look like a huge Christmas tree. It was a bigger relief to rest at its sight. There were big churches that dotted the city. There was a splendid Presbyterian Church and Baptist church not far from where we put up. Strong wind knocks our glass window the whole night through. That keeps me awake. The other thing that keeps me beautifully awake was the Halleluia Chorus that was practised by the Baptist Church Choir. I could hear them trying to perfect the song with unattainable voices. The perfection would be a vain quest, but they tried beautifully. I love that trying part. That inevitable quest. I was in a fixed then, wondering what’s more beautiful, the voices or the song. Knowing that none of the two could exist in isolation, the choirgirl voices reached the depth of my eardrum. While my bedmate, Pu Hrangthangvung snore to meet his dear most in his dream, I took the liberty of relating faces to the voices that I heard. Seeing would be believing. But imagining is also wonderful. I saw angel like faces. For the voices itself were songs. I thought to myself that Adam must have been tempted to eat the apple not because he likes it, but because of Eve’s voice. I reminded myself that many beautiful things are not to be seen. The unseen voices made the baby inside me leap higher than Elizabeth again. That is my testimony in short. I told myself that today is Christmas for me. I reminded myself to count every small thing big. They indeed are the biggest things. It is only that we never count them. I know there is nothing bigger than small and little things. Shall we all say Halleluia before I make a pulpit out of it?

I remember my first visit to the State in the year 2006, when I sensed the same feeling at the sight of the Christmas city. The second experience has the same unforgettable effect too. I realised that beautiful things could make man awake peacefully. The Christmas tree-like city laid bare, seducing me with all its unseen nakedness while its dwellers sleep in numb senses. I did not excuse myself to say that I am a visitor here. Like an honest panderer, I told the night, the light, the air and the darkness that I belong to her. Like every love-struck woman, she embraces me to sleep in her warmth of the Christmas night.