Be it January, when the Christian hangover is high after all the man made “holy” festivals or July when the downpour is thick and heavy, Aizawl still looks like the last undying Christmas tree at night. That is what it is to me every time I return there.
I find no reason waiting for December to come to celebrate the birthday of the Son of Man. Whenever I am in the city, it felt like Christmas. Many things could not be thoroughly explained. This is one for me. I sought no further rhyme or reason. If seeing is believing, I do here, which is enough.
But I realised that it was always a lonely Christmas. No one seems to be in the same mood that I used to be. As usual the road would be clogged with slugging taxis and modified bikes that made the biker bow unusually low. They reminded me of those rugby players who were in full anticipation for the rough game. I read the day’s newspaper and there was no trace of Christmas. Not even of advanced Christmas. I asked if I am an anachronist. I did not seek the answer from anyone again though. There was just no announcement or notice about the Christmas that I was celebrating. I asked why I am so lonely on Christmas night in this “Christian State.” Well it might be the difference in the timing. It is no wonder that people are still religiously waiting for the Messiah to deliver them salvation. I couldn’t wait for that anymore. I already have it that I ought to have it.
On my Christmas day the big arms catch made the headline in the local newspaper- 19 AK 47 rifles and more. The most peaceful; state has become one big arms bazaar. The reports traced about the booming arms trade in the state that has been clandestinely going smooth under the nose of the government of Mizoram. I thought that the sawrkar needed silence to maintain inactivity. That’s not strange when it could already deliver the image of being the most peaceful state. There’s too much under that image that we missed everything. That we also forget everything. Worst, we negate everything. We believe the image. Many a time we resemble idol worshippers. Everything seems to be OK here as long as one could wrap them under the blanket of silence. The image making game is big here. Bigger than the image already. One could easily miss the reality if the image is to be believed. Underneath, it is a different chaos. I wonder if the tag would remain any longer to grace the blurring images.
There’s more news on my Christmas day. I read about this lady who is leading a new gospel movement amongst the youth in Aizawl. The hot venue is Aizawl’s Vanapa Hall where the gospel missionary, Mimi, led a different kind of gospel singing session with all sorts of fused dances. I was told that there is more than soul searching game here with the tribe of newly empowered and liberated youths who were allowed the many free nights out by their parents in the name of whatever comes along with Christianity or religion. Everytime I return here there is always a burst in the name of religion. The Church seems to be confused. Everyone seems to be confused. The State media could poke a bit by calling her as the leader of Mizoram’s rock and roll. The Church were silent again. That isn’t strange. Let it wait for more signs and symbols. It would be lucky if there is a revelation in at least black and white. My question is who will read the blur? If the concerned are confused, the rest are switching to the live telecast of the “dance session” that is also called “jam session.” I am also concern because many acts were performed in His name. But the wave is too strong to be paused. It finally turns out to be a wait and watch game for the multitude where cynic apprehension crashed the screen that the small eyes could afford.
What more? Well there’s the artistes from Nagaland who came all the way to aid the famine victims in Mizoram. The proactive move is a miracle because Nagaland also witnessed the bamboo flowering as well as the chain of endless bloodshed that Mizoram never seem to care. But who cares when the visitors handed over rupees twenty lacs in cash in the name of combating famine and aiding hunger. Lucky that we have tlawmngaina that could be twisted to suit any situation. We received the donated money with our big hands. Nobody really knows where it would end up again. As usual the distressed farmers would be the last in the queue. But still it is beautiful as long as the “Christian State” and the “disaster zone” sells like hot cakes. On the other hand people are slipping out of the State with Reebok and Nike shoes, with flashy mobile phone and Korean movie star hairstyles. Oh, they are the new exported logo of the hungry and famine devastated State. Lucky would be those who believe them, for they see not the harsh realities. They don’t seem like they shelter farmers and distress lots.
What more? Well there’s a merciless press release on my Christmas day by another distress organization, Zoram Kuthnathawktute Pawl (ZKP). I like the way they voice their plights. But, they were treated like the mute traders. However, they spill out with comfort ease that Mizoram would see darker days in the future if their plights are not addressed. I love the spirit, but the prediction is alarming. It is a wonder why the MNF sawrkar who were also once under the same spell of the doom flowers failed to address the plights of the devastated farmers in the face of looming misery. It is a shame that the boys in power still have the guts to sell our famine and hunger. We could have been the solution. If the sanctioned money that was allocated to combat the impact of the bamboo flower were fairly used, the grieve stricken farmers would have enough to store bags of white rice and more than one pair of Chinese made Nike and Reebok shoes too. But the mileage and leverage provided by the death flowers seems to have blinded the sight of the men in power. The bamboo flower has become a celebrated bloom. Many would love it if the flower blooms after every five years.
Meanwhile, night’s darkness gulped the city. My big Christmas tree surfaced. I sat lone and longing on the balcony. A song seeps in from a distance. It is another church choir practicing for some holy occasions that the State has in abundance. It was not a Christmas song, but there was beautiful relation as it was the Christian anthem, Halleluia Chorus. From my seat, I could see people dining. Some glued to the juke-box. Some putting the lights out. I console myself saying, “I have the Christmas tree all for myself.” Not just that, it’s Christmas for me too. However lonely. I wonder why it is not Christmas every night for everyone when we have the big Christmas tree silently standing by.
(July 12, 2008, New Delhi)