Friday, February 29, 2008

Of Quotes, Misquotes and Lessons in Humility

Our very erratic and temperamental internet connection in the office was miraculously working at top speed today, so a few minutes before I left, I started browsing around. I wanted pictures of certain authors and poets whose works I will be teaching this semester. After I got what I wanted, for want of anything better to do, I typed my name just for a lark, wondering if any of my pictures were there on google image search. They were not. But Google, helpful as ever, gave me some links which contained my name, and I clicked on these. Imagine my surprise when I was given quite a few entries beside the usual blog addresses and NET list, and I hadn't even known about these. My curiosity aroused, my ego sufficiently stroked, I happily followed these links. First, an article by a lady journalist whom I had met recently. Quickly skimming down, I came to the part which had my name:

There are also 100 other “mother tongues” spoken by 10,000 or more people, according to census data, and tens of thousands of dialects. “Because people don’t think their works are going to be read, they’re skipping writing in their own language and writing in English,” said Cherrie Channgte, literature lecturer at Mizoram University in India’s northeast. “Unless their work has a chance of translation into English, writing in local languages will start withering,” Channgte said.

“It’s already happening,” added Channgte, whose mother tongue is Mizo but who is equally fluent in English. “Mizo literature will vanish one day.” There is also a big need for Indian works to be translated into regional languages to promote interaction and understanding in the hugely culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse country, experts said.

oinks! I didn't recall ever predicting that Mizo literature would vanish, although we had some very lively discussions about the need for translation, and how linguistic minorities are getting more and more sidelined, how there was a danger that literary production would simply peter out one day if something was not urgently done to stop this trend. And it was not an interview. And my last name is spelled wrong. Of course, the writer is a sweet lady called Penny MacRae, and this came out in The Pakistan Daily, of all things.

I opened with trepidation the next two links. They were both already two days old, and both screamed:

Mizo literature will vanish one day, predicts Mizoram University Lecturer

Yeow! I hastily wrote to both sites, and clarified my stand. The editor of, one of the sites, was really sweet about it, and we resolved whatever needed to be resolved very amicably (I think). the other was on, and thankfully it had gone pretty much ignored since nobody deigned to comment upon it. I refrain from giving you links to these sites because I'm too mortified right now, and don't want you to go hunting them up.

Whew! This was a bit too much attention for mousy old me, a person who'd rather hide and write than bask in the spotlight. And the embarrassing part was that the attention wasn't all that positive! Ouch!

Wait, I'm not done. By now, heart-heavy with a feeling of dread but unable to help myself, I opened the link to a blog ( where one of my translations, a story by a well-known writer had been posted by a friend. I hadn't really dared to do that, fearing the feedback of its esteemed readers. I looked. There were only two comments.
One of them said "it felt to me as if something has been lost in translation". Ouch! Ouch!

o, to cut a long, depressing story short, I learnt that:
(a) I need to be careful about what I say, because I could be quoted.
(b) I also need to be careful because the same thing could be taken out of context, making me look really silly and giving the impression that I'm shooting off my mouth without really thinking things through.
(c) not everybody likes what I write, and I should just accept that.

And, because mom always ended her stories with a moral when we were younger,
(d) I should learn to accept criticism and being dismissed (worse!) as being too insignificant for any reaction, and that I should simply learn to be grateful for who I am, regardless of what others think.


Friday, February 22, 2008


Earth to earth, dust to dust.
My mother’s tears bathed my lifeless face.
I could hear women moaning,
Their agony sung out in dirges
In the land of the living.
Darkness sealed in my loneliness.
This crypt is cold, too cold.
I feel old.

The night they ripped me out
From the dank, damp earth,
I could not cry, though I did try.
A soundless scream wrenched my soul apart.
Kapa, kapa*, why have you forsaken me?
You were wrong – it hurts even after death.
Kanu, Anu*, I long for your warmth.
I feel old, too old.
I am cold.

‘Kapa’ means ‘my father’
‘Kanu’ and ‘Anu’ both are terms for ‘my mother’.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

Well...this Valentine's Day brought its share of pleasant surprises. There I was, all prepared to be gloomy and miserable, doomed to spending the day in bed because of this persistent pain in my back. Besides, I thought my Valentino-celebrating days were over. And know what I got? Turns out I'm not too over-the-hill yet to enjoy some red roses!

Despite my misgvings about what I tend to feel is an over-hyped, alien, commercialised concept, I must confess that there's something that feels very good about celebrating love. After all, love, as they say, makes the world go round!
In Dreams.
In dreams, I hold your hand
Without apologizing;
In dreams, the sun’s gentle warmth
Bathes my face as I look up into yours;
In dreams, we spread a blanket
And float away with clouds;
In dreams our carefree laughter
Rings out clear and pure;
In dreams, we sway together, softly,
A prelude to another dance;
In dreams, I exult in being yours
While you open up your heart to me;
In dreams, I love you
As though love were not a sin.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Responsible reporting or cheap sensationalism?

This is in response to a horrifyingly biased article written by Mr. Kumar Vikram in India Today . Thanks to Illusionaire for bringing it to our notice. Check this out

If the standards of so-called journalism in India are so low that such biased reports reeking of racist sentiments are tolerated, encouraged and published, then there's very little hope that India will become a better place. It's positively laughable that many academicians and politicians so vehemntly deny the presence of a mainstream in India, insisting that every Indian community is marginalised one way or another by virtue of the fact that there is such a vast plethora of cultures, races, languages and religions, and so on, ad nauseum. Sure. so, how come some communities are more victimized than others? It's like that joke about being more equal and less equal under the umbrella of equality. Forgive me for sputtering on incoherently when I should be presenting an impassioned, eloquent argument to promote better understanding and acceptance for northeasterners. I'm too mad. And anyway, I'm fed up of apologising for my existence.


You are a fascinating person.
Sorrounded by legends
And myths, ancient and modern.
Your jet-black, ramrod- straight hair
Cascades like waterfalls deep in the jungle,
Where once, tribal lords
Must have paid homage to your beauty
With songs that enchant us still,
The quiet forest reverberating
With drumbeats, as you swayed to the rhythm.

Now you carry the song in your heart
As you lose yourself among the crowd
In the busy city, a far cry from tribal ways.
You speak their language, live their life,
Desperate to fit in, a question of survival.
You do not know your walk gives you away,
For you still walk to the beat of drums
From an ancient, forgotten time,
When you were noble, yet never a savage.
You ignore such reminders, hectically trying
To forge a Self acceptable to them.

Your image in the mirror
Only reminds you your eyes are different.
In vain you wish for a different face:
Larger eyes, sharper features. You look like yourself
And that contributes to your victimization.
They do not understand your ways,
The easy camaderie, the uninhibited joy,
The assumption that people are as good as you.
They do not understand your pain
Or the lengths you go to hide it,
When you sing your sorrow-songs.

Your inability to blend in marks you out
As an object around which myths are spun.
You mesmerize, fascinate, attract and enchant,
You arouse curiosity, suspicion, fantasy, jealousy
And fear
Which must be conquered
By conquering you.
So they fabricate these myths
In an effort to slot you
Into a recognizable category.
Sister, don’t help perpetuate these myths.