Thursday, February 5, 2009

How Grandpa Got His Name

I never really knew Grandpa all that well, because he lived in far-away Lawngtlai, and died when I was about six or seven. I do have vague memories of him being wracked by violent fits of phlegmatic coughing, lying in bed in our home at Aizawl, always very quiet and uncomplaining; I would venture near his bed out of curiosity to have a better look at this tanned, thin old man who spoke Mizo infused with all the unfamiliar nuances and cadences of southern dialects. Always, when I did that, he would tell my mother, "Don't let the children come near, they might catch what I have." So I would slink guiltily away, thinking that I had somehow offended him, my childish brain unable to comprehend his concern for me. What I do remember very clearly though, is his name, for Grandpa had been given the uncommon and slightly alarming name of Thatchianga. For those who do not follow the Mizo language, 'that' means 'kill', and 'chiang' is 'plain, distinct, clear, certain, obvious' according to J.H. Lorraine's Dictionary. So, his name essentially means something like "one who kills/ killed with certainty". Quite a name.

When I was in Pre-University an aunt asked me why my Grandpa had such an odd name. By then, having gathered a few hazy facts from my mom about the genesis of the name, I easily replied, "Well, he killed this vai (non-Mizo from the plains) chap and so they named him Thatchianga." It took a few seconds for that to register, but when it did, she asked me, "But what was his name before he killed this fellow?!"

Anyway, here is how the story goes. My great great grandfather, Hnawncheuva of Tawihpui village and his friend, Dokulha, were warriors. This was during the Raj, and even in far-flung places like Tawihpui, petty officers of the government did what they could to take advantage of and harass the villagers. Among this lot were the non-Mizo Circle Interpreters, called Rahsi by the Mizos. These people had frequent interactions with the locals, especially the men, many of whom they employed as coolies. Apparently, they would greedily demand chickens, rice, vegetables and other hard-earned produce from the villagers anytime they had the whim. The villagers, fed up of this kind of behavior, asked Hnawncheuva and his friend to get rid of them, asking them why they, so-called warriors, were such cowards as to let these vais get away with such atrocious behavior. Not only emboldened by their entreaties, but by now seeing it as their bounden duty to protect the interests of their people, these two gentlemen ambushed and killed one such officer.

Having made no attempt to conceal their crime, they were duly captured, and a trial was conducted in which the verdict was that they should be transported to the Andamans to serve their term in prison. As they were bound and taken on the long trek towards the nearest port, they refused to be cowed by their captors and would not walk despite threats of the vilest kind. At a loss as to how to proceed, their captors decided to carry them piggy-back style on the torturous mountain roads. Not content with having to be carried thus, these brave warriors would suddenly make a lunge for freedom, and many times both they as well as the men carrying them would tumble down the steep inclines along the way. Needless to say, it must have been quite a journey they undertook. When the captured men resorted to suddenly biting their captors with ferocity, their teeth were all pulled out to teach them a lesson.

They eventually landed at Andaman Cellular Jial and served their term. When the time came for them to go home to Mizoram, Dokulha, in a flash of ill-inspired brilliance suggested that since they were going home anyway, they should kill at least one more vai for good measure. My great great grandpa must have resisted the urge, but the temptation was too great for Dokulha; he went and knocked off an unsuspecting vai who was basking in the sun, enjoying the peace of a beautiful morning. Alas! He was captured yet once more, and spent the rest of his life behind bars in the Andamans. Parting from his friend with much sadness, Hnawncheuva eventually reached home and was reunited with his family. It was in memory of this that my granpa, his grandson, was named Vaithatchianga, later shortened to Thatchianga.

A decade or so ago, my sister, who was then working as a missionary in Arunachal Pradesh, happened to narrate this story to a male colleague of hers. She told the story with relish, and concluded by remarking that had Dokulha not been so foolish, he would have gone home too. Her colleague, Dingtea, with a wry grin, said, "You're right. We've always wondered what would have been his fate had he not made that disastrous decision. You see, Dokulha was my great great Grandfather." Small world, eh?

49 comments:

  1. Very interesting. Kan pi leh pute hming kha a hunlai chuan hming tha tak tak a ni hlawm ngei ang. A bik takin eng emaw chhan nei takin an lo phuah chawk a. Chuvangin a hunlai leh an phuahchhan ngaihtuah chuan Thatchianga tih pawh chu hming ropui tak a ni thei tlat.

    Ka pu hming hi Shillonga a ni ve ve bawk a. Kan tet lai kha chuan eng vanga ka pu hming Shillonga a nih ngawt le tih ai mahin a mizo hming lo nia kan hriat avangin kan sak zak hial thin a ni.

    Tunhnuah ti ila, a thih hnuah ka hre ve tak tak chauh a. A pa Hrangchhuana chu lal khua leh tuite tana mi tha tak a nih avangin British lalte khan lawmman an pe a, chu a lawmman chu Shillong-ah kher pek an duh a, a nupui rai puar chu a hruai ve a. Shillongah chuan nau a hring ta a, a hmingah Shillong-a ni rawh se, an ti a, chu chu kum 1910 vel kha a ni awm e.

    Kan lo puitling a, kan tet lai deuha ka pu nau hming phuah pakhat Kapthuami tih chuan a hming chu a duh ta lo hle mai a. Nula hminga Kapthiami han put chu a nalh hran lem lo bawk a. Mahse, a phuahtu ka puin a phuah chhan hriat erawh chuan hming nalh tak chu a ni ve tho mai.

    Engpawhnise, lal hmingthang leh huaisen Dokulha hming te ka han hmu a, lung a tileng hle mai.

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  2. Wow, its like reading one of our folk tales, and yet this is a true incident. How lucky of you to have a "history" that you remember. My knowledge of my ancestors stop at my grandfather. And yes, that was truly a small world! lolz.

    My maternal granpa's name was Sena. Just Sena. :) Prolly one of the shortest Mizo names I know. And my paternal granpa's name was Zabanga. Both aren't as fancy as your granpa's name :)

    Tih leh ta mai mai i la, vai ho hian, zomardala (mizo pa a that) tih ang hming te hi lo pu ve ta se... zomardala kumar etc, hehe, engtin nge kan ngaih ve ang? :D

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  3. Intresting ! ka pu pa, pa leh chhawng hi TUALPOHA a nia, a hming put chhan erawh ka hre miah lo! Kan pi leh pute hming hi a lo mak thei khawp mai.

    Tuna kan hming in put ho hi chhuan 2, chhuan 3 te ral leh se, engtin nge an ngaih ve ang aw ka ti thin !

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  4. @Puia: Ty. Chu nang pawh history i lo ngah ve hle mai a. Duh aiin research ka ti chipchiar hmanlo a, Dokulha cc i rawn ziak fiaha, ka lawm hle mai.

    @Illusionaire: Was it sena like 'red' or the other sena? Wonder how he came about that name! Who knows, there might be several Zomardalas in existence. I think the Khasis top the list of such name-giving, though. My sister's friend, Joy, a granddaughter of former governor PR Kyndiah, was actually christened JoytoBangladesh in honor of Bangladesh's independence.

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  5. @seki: Tualpoha ?? wow, that sounds like it has a really interesting historyu behind it. Lo zawng chhuak teh!!

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  6. Well well, interesting. Our ancestors were headhunters too. One can understand the first killing, but Dokulha overdid it.

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  7. Ka pu hming chu Thanchhuma...enge a meaning zawhna chang pawh ka lo hre ngai lo re2 :-/

    mizday, pls pls disable this deezer.com jukebox. Whenever I land up at your blog, this thing starts playing automagically - really annoying - don't mind pls :(

    Oh, I've update my blog :)

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  8. @mesjay : lolzzz I agree. He should've quit while he was ahead.

    @nohiddendepths: will check ur blog asap. As for the deezer thingy, do u notice that pause button on the player? Just click that, and viola! no music. Will disable it as soon as I figure out how :))

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  9. @aaa Pu BW: I removed it. Can't figure out any other way to disable it!

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  10. Hahaha @ kima:hrethui lo lulai ngei mai.
    Chutichuan, han ti deuh hluai ila a ngaihnawm reuh hle mai.tunlai pawh hian hming mak deuh hi anla awmtho,entirnan Pu Chana Pawl te zinga zirtirtu pakhat hming chu Gametharluti te anla ti ve tho mai.

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  11. @Thinchhia: Ka thianpa hi thil a hre mak thei a nia o, nuih suh :P

    Chutichuan ... hehe, ngaihnawm i tih chuan ka lawm hle mai. Gametharluti chuan eng game thar tak lut ang maw! "Tharte", "Luti" te kha an ti leh daih emaw a ni awm sia :)

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  12. How interesting! And inspiring! I think maybe I should also start learning more about who my ancestors were.

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  13. Thlahte a trang reng hian inlo huaisen bik a...Man deuh pu neih ve ka va chak ve aw...Ngaihnawm hle mai.

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  14. A van ngaihnawm em em. Hmanlai hian hming hi an van lo phuah ropui ka ti dawn nge, an phuah maksak ve hrim hrim. An thil tih ang azir ten hming kha an lo phuah zel a, lehlamah chuan an hming atang an chanchin tlem azawng a chhui chhoh theih a, a tha phian asin.

    Pu te hming awmzia pawh hrelo kan awm hnem si, ka pu hming chu "Sangcheuva". Engemaw ni tak, sangkhat engemaw lampang chu a ni ngei ang. LOL.

    Ka ni pakhat hi a pian laiin damdawiinah a piang a, (khang hunlai chuan damdawiinah nau piang an vang) chuvangin "Runliani" ti ang u an ti a, mahse a nalh lo ltk a, a hnu lawkah an thlak leh a ni awm e. Khatiang vel kha nia, mak thei ltk.

    Pu i nei PA REM REM ka ti khawp mai. :-)

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  15. Really liked the story... if not for the exemplary display of your talent for writing in English, but for the story itself - beautifully thought out and written with a little bonus at the end... I'm new to blogging but your blog is one of the best I've come across... excelsior!

    PS: Just curious - 4th paragraph: Could it be 'trial' instead of 'trail'?

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  16. Had a bad morning when I woke up and couldn't immediately find my glasses. Later found them on the ironing board by the bathroom door. Then much later, as I was getting ready for church, I very casually lay down my glasses on the bed and what do you know, a few more minutes later, I sit on the bed to put on my shoes and sit on them glasses. Yes, my eyes are all cockeyed today and then I come to your blog and find everything in such unusually large print, my already tired eyes smart even worse. Arghhh.

    Great post nonetheless. Your personal family-lore makes for a fascinating read.

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  17. @aduhi: thanks. Bet there are quite a few interesting stories tucked away in the recesses of your family history too :)

    @sawmpuia : haha. Pu tak hi chu aw, min chhuah huai e, miin min hlau leh sia nga...! I pu a "man" loh pawh nangmah kha i "man" a lom!

    @Joseph: haha Runliani nih chu a chakawm lutuk lo ve bawk a nih chu mawle.

    Kan inhnuaia kan thianpa hi Hrangthuama (a pi leh pu hming lak kawp) ania, khongaih thlak tawps, a hmel te hi a tha ver leh nghal a. A tetlaiin doctor hnenah inentir turin a hming an ziak a, receptionist khan "Pu Hrangthuama, va lut rawh le" a ti lauh2 a, mipa naupang te kha a va kal ta ter ter sia.

    Hming hi chu a lo poimoh a niang, tiro, upat hnu daiha te an han thlak leh a a thenin. Ka pu hi nia a pa ve rem rem khops mai :P

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  18. @Andy: Hey thanks, man. And a very warm welcome to you too... folks who have a word of praise are always VERY enthusiastically welcomed! lolz

    Thanks for your close reading of the text; the error has been duly noted and rectified, eh!

    @Calliopia: I'm sorry for making your bad morning worse :( I know how terrible it is not to have your glasses or lenses; am a little surprised, though, that the big print strained your eyes more than the normal one. I'd changed it hoping that it would prove less stressful to the eyes :P

    There's so much lore available in our own backyards. Have you given more thought to that interest you had regarding urban lore etc?

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  19. Haha Thinchhe pa, Fuckhican te hi hming mak tak ani! :P

    mizday, this deezer jukebox 'would' autoplay and when i'm at work and I open up your blog, I 'would' have to scramble and scroll down to 'pause' it...irritating for some folks in the workplace :( Thanks for removing it btw :).
    I blog hi chu ka rawn tlawh ve ziah, comment dan tur ka hrelo tih chu thuhran .. lol

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  20. Chuanin, Whorekhawm tih pawh hi hming mak ve tak a ni bawk :-P

    Yeah I agree with BW on the music part. Sometimes we have to hurriedly look for the source to pause it before it starts playing, and sometimes it takes sometime to load so we have to wait for it to load... Ti hi chuan a nuam daih zawk u Cher.

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  21. Wow! This is a great story - a personal story of history with all the elements of Jeffrey Archer's The First Miracle! Nice! Unpredictable!

    Kima if you are here..this should have been the POW on Misual! What say ya!

    Please keep writing, Daydreambeliever!

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  22. a van ngaihnawm veeee.i pu khi a van bon top.

    -- Lal-Viking-a

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  23. @illusionaire and nohiddendepths: children, children! tsk tsk, no fighting here, in la in insult leh duh ang :P

    Point taken about the deezer thingy.

    @ Carey: Hey there, welcome! Thanks for the encouragement; have you read Archer's collection, "A Twist in the Tale"? You might enjoy it.

    @Viking: Nia lol, ka pu hi a pa nge a aa kan ti zawk dawn ni?!

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  24. Great post, and inspiring too!I hope to write a story like this . ... You inspire me!

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  25. i post kahmu cu ka va han lom tak....you see i remember vaguely my relatives telling me about Dokulha when i was a kid. His story i proudly tell my vai friends to show my ferocious lineage, however i have been doubting if the story was true or not...but your story have swept away my doubts....Dokulha was my great grandfather. Am forever proud to have him as one


    zualbonez

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  26. @hruai: Praise from you is praise indeed; am so glad you're inspired, because I have a feeling you can write with more depth as a historian. Looking forward to great reads from you.

    @zualbonez: Heyyyy!!! May be we should get together some time, eh? Swap notes on our ancestors :P Unfortunately, I didn't get to do too much research on Dokulha - everything I have is orally transmitted at this point, but a relative of ours apparently included parts of the story in his dissertation. I'll look that up, and pass it on, if you're interested. I hope my comments on your grandpa didn't offend or anything... it's all in fun :)

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  27. Hi,I bumped into your blog by chance,very interesting indeed.I remember my grandmother and great aunt telling us those stories,how your grandad got his name.Endless stories about Dokulha,Ropuiliani etc.I know they are my ancestors,but never really understood the connection.You insprire me,I think I'll start working on my Family tree.
    U Lalnuni

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  28. of course no offense... Dokulha is just part of a proud happy history that i want to cherish... nothing more than that. some tell me that he was not exactly a great grandpa but a great grand uncle..wateva... he only brings smile to me in whatever form he manifests himself in my relativity to him. he..he... another story was that he or his brother was so strong that he could lift up an entire carcass of a dead ox alone. you write really good btw.. am trying to start a blog myself but half heartedly...u can check out nomad-zualbonez at blogspot...once i get some encouragement i can flow the flow with my pen or keyboard...wateva...


    zualbonez

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  29. I feel deprived! It's almost like most people have heard of Dokulha but this is the first time I've heard of him or your great grandfather!

    I love this story, they should make it into a movie! It would be one good movie to watch.

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  30. @Nuni: Heyyy! I'm so glad I posted this, if only because it's helped me get in touch with long-lost members of the family tree. How's life in London (is it?). Glad you've been inspired to dig into the past; do let me know how it goes, and take care!

    @Anonymous: Have been to your blog, you write really well.Will come back for a proper visit, and meanwhile, do keep blogging!

    @Jerusha: It's amazing how much lore one finds when one starts digging a little bit. And the great part is, we're not so far-removed from the historic personalities yet; as you can see from the comments, it's still pretty easy to trace their descendants, which is pretty cool.

    I'd love to make it into a movie too, preferably with you and your friends (esp Zorock) in the cast :P

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  31. Lalmuanpuia Chinzah, C. Ropianga fapa te nen chhungkhat in ni maw. Muanpuia a.k.a. La-Thu a kha.

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  32. Nizan lamah comment ka lo tum ve ngial a mobile trang. Theih thak loh. Pu i nei ropui bik hle mai.

    Chu ai chuan i ziah dan kal hmang hian chhiar a ti nuam.

    Chhiartu tam tak te pawh in mawl vang ah an puh mai thei a. Mah se, a hunlai ngaihtuah leh kan inrelbawldan ngaihtuah let chuan min awptu te kha huatthlala tak erawh an ni. Amaherawhchu, tunlaia vai ka hua kan lo ti ve ngawt hi chu inngaihtuah chian erawh angi i ti ve in ka ring!!!

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  33. Interesting...really interesting...in takes me a moment to read the name :D

    i ahrdly know my grandfathers..not to mention great grandfather..a thumbs up to you for knowing this much :)

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  34. That's a story! Your grandpa was a brave man. And wise too... Wich leads me to the question: Your father/mother was bor before or after his jail time?

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  35. Hi

    I'm a student in JNU, New Delhi. I was reserching something on the internet and one link led to another till I came upon the article that misqouted you, and then to your blog. I wish I knew a better way to get in touch with you 'cause I need your help. Please get in touch, if you can have the time at kookiralte@gmail.com. thanks!

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  36. wow nice writing cddb, such perfect english :)

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  37. Dear everybody, thanks for the warm comments. I've been a bit lazy and busy, and inexcusably negligent about updating, but it's coming soon... I hope!

    @kookiralte: I tried responding to you via email, but this is the message I got: The email address "kookiralte@gmail.com." is not recognized. Please fix it and try again.

    Would you like to write to me? My add is chhangte.mzu@gmail.com

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  38. @pentran: It was actually my great great grandfather who starred in all these exploits; his grandson, my grandfather, was born about the time he was in prison.

    @chhangte_ll : I'm sorry to say I don't know this friend of yours, though his dad's name is a familiar one. It's possible that we could have the same roots, since our family is pretty much scattered...

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  39. Dokulha kha ka ngaisang teh ania. a tlawm loh zia ti lang tu ania, kum19 tan hnua vai pakhat pawh velh loh chu tia, fianpuia chaw chhum han vuak hlum kha. Mizo lal tam tak kha chu an duap leh lutuk a. lalburha pawn Aizawla Lal Conference-ah 'vai kan kah laia mizo lal kan tlem nen kan va tam ta ve' a tih mai kha. A ngaihnawm e.

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  40. Wow..good knowledge of ur forefathers
    And like many, mine stops at my Grandpa(98ys and kicking) ferociously named Vawmkaia, after his grandpa who allegedly killed a bear

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  41. anybody home???

    .. and will you please remove this word verification thing?

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  42. Nice write. Their story could have passed off as a folk tale!!

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  43. hey..i pu hming chu va pa ve a, kapu hming poh Thatpuiruma ve tho nia oo.I pu Dokulha hallah sawn kal ve ngat tawh nia aw kum 2003 khan

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  44. Ngaihnawm hle mai! Vawiin hian ka lo chhiar ve chiah a, — Vawi 2 ka chhiar chhuak... Tunhma chuan hming hian awmze thuk zawk a nei fo thin. Mizo pipute khan holam mai maiin hming hi an lo phuah ngai vak lo niin E.Lungdar putar pakhat (Ka thianpa!) in min hrilh (Ka thianpa hi a thi ta, ka ngai hle mai. Thil tamtak min hrilhtu a ni). Khasi ho anga thumal rilru a lo lang hmasa apiang hminga inphuah ngawt chi an ni lo anih hmel. Ka Khasi thian pakhat hming chu International Britannica Lyngdoh zuk ni daih a!

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  45. When there are so many amazing real-life stories, who needs fiction?

    yes, this would make a nice movie!

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  46. I was reading this story....but something never crossed my mind until dokulha came along. My great grand-father was the same person who went to the andamans with dokulha.

    *small world

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  47. the story was true so as told to me by my 95 yrs. old granma....it feels great being a VANPHAWNG
    I REMEMBER OTHERS name too like VAILIANRAWTA, VAITHATCHIANGA, PALIANA....

    all are vanphawngs...makes me more proud...atleast we have tale to tell of some of the Mizo history...

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