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Preserving history one item at a time

Preserving history one item at a time
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/15/2019 7:36:08 AM IST

 Apart from its rich heritage and culture, Nagaland is also woven intricately in history for the Battle of Kohima that was fought from April to June 1944 where the Allied forces defeated the Japanese and Indian National Army, And while there is very little that could be salvaged from the trail of destruction left behind, there are still remnants of that period that have been preserved by people in the state. 

One such man in his late 80s, a retired teacher and recipient of National Award for Teacher in 1994, Khriezotuo Sachü aka BK Sachü has preserved antiques from the World War 2 era. Khriezotuo Sachü  is from D.Khel, Kohima Village and is  blessed with 4 children and 12 grandchildren.

 He decided to collect the antique pieces of World War 2 which was fought in 1944-45 because he felt that with the fast changing where science and advance technology has constantly evoled, a time will come when the future generation will not even know of items used during the 19th century, adding that he would like to keep them as a proof and narrate the stories in a lively way. 

Despite the years gone by, he can still speak Japanese, a language taught to the soldiers during the war to build a relationship and  for better understanding between the Nagas and Japanese. 

Khriezotuo Sachü still has fresh memories of many incidents and narrates them like they happened just a day ago. In a long conversation, he recalled every single details of what happened in 1944-92, even narrating a sad incident where some village children were killed while playing with a bomb they found buried underground, thinking it was a ball. 

His collection of items used by the British, Japanese and even artifacts of Nagaland started more than 35 years ago. His impressive collection  includes typewriter, 300 to 400 types and sizes of grenades, guns, utensils, parts of the blasted booms, a toy that makes a ticking sound which the soldiers used for communicating, the first of wireless phones used in those days, swords and many more. 

Interestingly, he has also created busts from wood, stones and painted the faces of the war veterans he met and remember. Among them were two Nagas who were known to be the strongest and bravest men in the village and stood in the frontline during war. 

He said he was astonished when many filmmakers, historians, researchers, journalists, etc., visited him from all parts of the country because even his next door neighbors are also not aware of his collection.
Sachü told this writer that few war veterans who fought the Second World War have visited him and were mesmerized by his collection and memories of the war. Among them was a tank driver who came to meet him and told him that he had driven a tank during the Second World War in Kohima village. 
Sachü also remembers his first encounter with the Japanese Captain Koba Yashi Noaji, the first person who fired at the British in 1944 at 4:00 pm. He said they all had big smiles on their faces and asked the people of the village to help them with food and also advised them to take shelter from the neighboring villages as the village was a battlefield.
 Recounting the war fought in Kohima, Sachii said he can never forget the day they came back to the village after the war and were heartbroken to find everything destroyed. “Our homes, our fields were all damaged, we had nothing to eat, it was so bad that we even had difficulty in finding the location of where our houses were,” he said. 
He said that broken guns, pieces of used grenades, fallen helmets, burned houses and fields were the only things he saw. He collected many valuables and items of the war but lost it all when the Britishers came to collect them. He revealed that the British duped the public into exchanging one rifle for 3 kgs of salt. The villagers were naïve and simple back then and were very happy to get free salt, he recounted. 
However, among them was a very respected officer who advised us to save and preserve those valuables so that we can tell the story to our children and grandchildren in the future. That’s when Sachü started collecting everything he could and keep them safe.
Thereafter, the Indian army also came and collected few others items again. In the end, Sachü said he could not even find a single boot that the soldiers wore.
Reminiscing the war, he said when they found the guns, most of the Japanese guns were kept intact while the British always dismantled their guns before throwing it away.
Sachü has a room converted into a museum filled with broken parts of old rifles, newspaper clippings, illustrations, fraying magazines, photo, including personal collections and visitors book filled with comments from visitors around the globe. 
He wishes to pass this on to his children and grandchildren in order to preserve history. He said he is eager to educate and pass on  history to the younger generation  but lamented that many youngsters this era are not interested and disregard history.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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