Dedicated to all the people who lost their life in the Battle of Kohima
April 14 – June 22. 1944
for your tomorrow
we gave our today.
I laid down on my bed and tried not to scratch my body. But I just couldn’t. I regretted taking Aspirin. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t even think if I could go out and meet Beautiful eyes.
Aparna came back around noon time to check on me
“Nina, I got you some Calamine lotion.” She passed the bottle to me
I was just so grateful. I opened the medicine bottle and quickly applied some lotion on my body. The cold lotion on my sore body felt so good.
“Did you get to speak to Arjun?” I asked her
“Yes, he looked disappointed”
I felt sorry for being so mean
“Do you want me to bring some lunch for you from the mess?”
I wasn’t in a position to eat any lunch. I was miserable.
I shouldn’t do this to Arjun. I should have the courage to tell him that I don’t love him. But I was afraid how he would react. When we had a simple argument he went for a long bike ride and if I tell him that I don’t love him, what would he do? I wish he would just look at me and realize that I am a big huge mistake. I don’t speak the language, I refused to cover my hair, I have a temper and I come from a very very bad/terrible family. What more reasons does he need to break up with me? It was obvious, he deserves a sweet and gentle Marwari girl. Not a monster like me. But how was I going to tell him that?
But the truth is, he accepted me for what I am and I have been nothing but ungrateful.
I couldn’t do this to Arjun. It wasn’t right. I decided not to go and meet Beautiful eyes.
“Bye Nina, I will see you after the class” Aparna took her note books from the shelf and went out. I didn’t even ask where Shylaja was.
I knew, she would have gone straight to the mess to eat and then rushed to the gallery to sit in my favourite place at the gallery. Stupid woman, fighting for a place at the gallery!
I couldn’t lay down on the bed, because my back was itching. I sat down on the bed and re applied the calamine lotion on my body. I looked at the clock. It was 12.45 pm.
I looked outside my room. Even the leaves on the tress were turning brown under the hot summer sun. I thought of the guy who was waiting for me at the restaurant in this heat. There was no way I could let him know that I won’t be able to see him.
Damn it Nina, how can you not keep your word? You told him that you would see him after Arjun had gone home. I thought.
Was it the thought of breaking a promise or was it the desire in my heart that made me wipe the pink colour calamine lotion off my body, change my cloths and leave my room?
I never knew the answer.
The security guard was staring at me
“What happened to you madam?”
“Allergy. I need to go to the clinic, Can I have the register book please?” I took the pen from my bag.
“It is ok madam, no need to sign. I will get an auto for you”
I stood inside the guard house. The heat and the itch was killing me. I promised myself, Even if I die, I will never take an Aspirin again in my life. I rather die than suffer like this.
When the auto came I got inside
“Are you ok madam?” The driver was staring at me
“Yes” I barked.
“Clinic no?” He asked
“No, bus station”
When the auto reached the bus station, I paid the driver and got out. My instinct was to look for signs of Arjun or any of my classmates. But I was too tired to be bothered. I could see his bike parked outside the restaurant and I walked in. He was sitting in the corner table. As I walked towards where he was sitting, I could see that everyone was staring at me
“My God Nina, what happened to you?” He got up from the chair and was staring at me
“What did you do?” He was laughing. I must have been a sight!
“Don’t ask” I was mad.
He had the audacity to laugh, when I was suffering? I did this for him. I felt like throwing the falooda that he was drinking on top of his stupid head. That would have been a pretty sight. Naga warrior with pink falooda as a crown!
“come sit down, Can I get you something to drink? Did you take any medicine?”
“No thanks. Can we go?” I couldn’t risk sitting with him in a restaurant often patronised by medicos from my college.
He paid the money and we walked out together.
“Where do you want to go?” He looked at me
“Anywhere out of here” I shouted. I was irritated, agitated, itchy and angry
He started the bike and I sat down behind him.
“Did you take any antihistamine?” He turned to look at me
“No. Can you please go?”
“Ok, ok ok. Don’t get angry”
On the way he stopped at some pharmacy and bought anti histamine for me. By the time we reached his favourite place, The itch had subsided, but I was sleepy and tired.
We walked to the place where we sat down last time. He was looking at me
“hmm” I mumbled
“I missed you”
“Did you miss me?”
“hmm, hmm, hmm?” He asked
“hmm, hmm,hmm,hmm” I replied
“Angry with me?”
“What do you think of yourself? You left without telling me, I had no idea where you were and then you pop out like this and expect me to see you. I can’t do this anymore. I had to eat Aspirin, to get this allergy, so I don’t have to go with Arjun. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t” I started to weep
“Nina I am so sorry. I am so sorry for leaving without telling you. There is something I need to tell you, there is a reason I left without telling you”
“what do you know about me?”
“That is easy. you are a mad man, I am hopelessly in love with”
“Seriously Nina” He sounded serious.
I looked at him? What has he been hiding? Oh No George! Has he been collaborating with George? Did he bring me here for some other reason?
“You do know I am from Nagaland right?”
“do you know anything about Nagaland?”
I shook my head. I have been wanting to read about it. Never found any good books about Naga History.
“Most of the Naga’s trace their ancestors to Tibeto Burmans. Some people say our ancestors belonged to the Chinlung civilization. Do you know that my people and the Indigenous people of Philippines and Malaysia have so much in common?”
“Malaysia? Which people in Malaysia?”
“Dayaks. People in the Borneo”
“Really. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is that I am a Naga. I am not an Indian”
“Pardon me. What do you mean?”
“I am trying to explain that. For that you need to know the history”
“Most of the Naga people lived in villages, each village had village chief. They never had a common king or a ruler. But they were happy. Most of the villages had their own dialects, customs and traditions. I belong to the Ao group. We have our own culture and dialect. In 1816, Myanmar invaded Assam. Some of our tribes lived in Assam and it was a very bad period. Innocent people were being killed by the Myanmar army. Finally British East India company defeated the Myanmar army and took control of Assam. While doing so, they also annexed part of Nagaland to Assam. 1832 king of Manipur, Raja Ghambir annexed part of Nagaland to Manipur. Because we are have so many tribes in so many villages and because we don’t have a distinct borders or boundaries, you will now see Nagas scattered in Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and in the Kachin state of Myanmar. But we are still not Indians. Naga means ‘hills people’ or people from the hills. We have nothing in common with the plains people. Everyone of us felt the same way. So hours before India got independence from the British, Naga national council led by Mr. A.Z. Phizo declared to the world that we are independent(14th august 1947). No one listened. Not least the Indian govt. Not even the British Government. Did you know my people fought the battle of Kohima along with the British against the Japanese Army during the second world war? Did you know how many innocent Nagas were killed by the Japanese, because they supported the British? Even after that, the British cheated us. They should have granted us the Independence. They knew we have nothing in common with the Indians”
I could feel the rage in his voice. I have never seen him this angry
“Indian government refused to grant us our independence. Instead they chose to ignore our request for freedom. India wanted freedom from the British, yet they couldn’t grant us our freedom. On 16th may 1951, Naga national council led by Mr. A.Z.Phizo conducted a national poll and 99% of the population voted saying that they want to be independent. So on 22nd March 1956 Naga National council established Federal Government of Nagaland. So what did the Indian Govt do?” He asked me
“Don’t know” I shook my head
“They send their troops, to kill and torture our people. Not enough, they learned the tricks of the trade from the British. They learned to divide and rule. So now we have so many factions within the Naga national council and outside the council. To make things worst, when the British came, they brought in the missionaries as well. The missionaries! they destroyed my culture and converted my people to Christianity. Earlier we drank rice wine and danced in circles. Missionaries felt that was against Christianity and they banned everything. They made us lose our identity”
‘You are not alone there” I replied
“What do you mean?”
“Well, my ancestors are Brahmins. If it wasn’t for the missionaries, I would still be a Brahmin, with my own identity and culture.”
“So you can understand what we are going through. We, the younger generation are now trying to keep our traditions alive. But it is so hard. India will not grant us independence we so badly want, Instead, Indian govt is wasting the money to suppress the dissent by military actions. It is never going to work. if it isn’t today, tomorrow we will get our independence and you need to know when I vanish without a reason, there is a reason! We are fighting a war”
“What do you mean?”
“Nina, I am a Naga warrior, I will fight till my last breath for the freedom of my people”
note: One of the longest civil wars in the world has been going on in India. But the world and Indians are continuously ignoring the struggle of Naga people. British cheated them once, Indians continue to cheat them.