Post Mortem

The question of dignity and Naga independence

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/16/2020 12:34:39 PM IST

 (From Previous issue)

Numerous twists and turns have stalked the Naga independence journey. To our own shame and downfall, we have jumped to catch the carrots thrown to us, one too many times. Who benefitted from those jumps is again, altogether a case of heading towards touching the Pandora’s box. If our political, social, and economic fronts look botched today, could that be because the sharp and single-minded vision and commitment of focused leaders of the bygone days have slowly but surely been gnawed and chiselled away intentionally or otherwise? Have our virtues and values been shelved in exchange for momentary fame and gain? I remember how a dear Uncle would visit our home, decades ago, and relate countless stories about their rigorous training in China. He taught us never to waste even a single grain of rice when we had food. He showed what simplicity of life and commitment to a worthy cause entailed through his own example.  
In the absence of dignity, self-reliance which results from self-respect go missing. Our messy political journey might have made many Nagas grow up disillusioned and even angry, but that still does not justify our sometimes uncouth, unprincipled, and brutish behaviour. 
Take, for instance, the case of a young Naga father carrying his two year (or so) old son on his chest, tied with a piece of cloth, just like how Nagas carry their children. This was at a weekly bazaar along the National Highway. As sellers and shoppers busied themselves over transactions, this Naga father coolly scooped a handful of neemkies from the pile where a non-local was selling fried goodies, and gave some to his son. As the shocked and unhappy neemkie seller protested, the Naga jerked his hand out, and pointing at the non-local with his finger, angrily shouted, “Chup! Tumi ki koi ase? Etu moi laga bosti ase. Moi laga bosti, moi lagak hushi!” (“Shut up! What are you saying? This is my village/town. I do as I wish here!”), and walked off in a huff. The thought that has stayed with me, since, has been: What are we parents teaching our children every day, through the way we handle ourselves and others?
I also recall the nicely dressed elderly Naga lady in a shop selling traditional Naga attires, wood crafts, and tools. She could have easily passed off as a faithful deaconess in a church. After buying several items, I told her I needed a receipt/bill. She pulled out the receipt booklet and asked me to write down the list myself, since she did not know some spellings, and said she would sign at the end. When she learnt that I was not buying the things for myself, without even a faint sign of a sense of guilt, she said, “Enaka hoile to, apni he saman laga daam khushi khushi lekhibhi. Kun bhi najanibo. Moi sign kori diboto” (“In that case, you can write down the price of the stuffs as you wish. No one will know. I will sign it at the bottom.”)
As I try to imagine what could be transpiring every day among our people, I am able to think of many noble and beautiful things which are taking place here and there. There are sincere, genuine Nagas making good of life. Yet, I cannot help but shudder also at the thought of all the evil and dark practices that fill our land. What if the mistakes and the wrongs we commit blatantly or covertly are done way too often that they become our way of life? What will our Naga society look like when we are left on our own to put the fragmented pieces back together, in the absence of a sense of right and wrong?  
Paul Johnson, a Christian historian, once said, “One of the lessons of history is that no civilization can be taken for granted. Its permanency can never be assured. There is always a dark age waiting for you around the corner, if you play your cards badly and you make sufficient mistakes.” Does a dark age await the Nagas; an age where dignity has no place?
One day, if and when India grants the Nagas what we truly deserve and desire, will India have the dignity to assist Nagas get up on their feet again or dump them to find their own moorings? If and when that day dawns, will we Nagas have the dignity and the mettle to show the world that we do have credible substance and values to stand on; that we are much more than just a warring group of people capable of living only for our own selves? Perhaps a future tougher and more complex than we can fathom awaits us – a future that will require every gram of dignity that we may still have. May we not be found wanting!     
Buno Iralu, Sechü Zubza

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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