The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter eleven. The Affair of Degalang
caption: girl expelled from Impoi a year later because of thieving
medium: books
person: RangalangDinekambaDegalang
location: Impoi
date: 1941
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: A year later, he and I came into the head of the village street. It was almost dark. We had been out for a turn round the jungle with the new shotgun, and had, as usual, seen nothing larger than a dove. Before us the twilight street was full of evening activity. Field-parties were returning, trudging heavily under full baskets; spear-armed youths, returned travellers, turned in at their morungs, from whose high gables blue smoke curled out into the still air. Indeed, a thin haze of it hung over the whole village, drifting out through thatch, coiling from porches; the friendly and familiar sight which ended every day, infinitely comforting in its repetition and calm security. Below us, the shadow of the hill had swallowed the camp. The rounded spur was blue; blue against the warm Nenglo slope, up whose grass the shadow was now marching.
text: There, in the porch at Rangalang's, the girl was sitting with her baby.
text: " Hallo ! " said I. " Why have you come home ? - Visiting the family ? Ask her, Namkia."
text: He did so. She shrugged her shoulders and said that (92) Degalang's brother had sent her. There was something wrong. It was in her tone of voice and in Namkia's manner. I asked no other questions. We turned and left.
text: The following morning the Impoi headmen arrived. All day they conferred with Rangalang and the Laisong elders. Dinekamba, who was now our scullion, was at the meeting. That evening, as I went out for a stroll, I ran into him on the village path. He was hurrying, almost running. He was crying openly; the tears were streaming down his face.
text: Poor Dinekamba ! and poor Degalang, too ! The truth was out; the Rangalangs were disgraced. The girl was a kleptomaniac. During the year, she had stolen constantly and repeatedly from every house in Impoi. Degalang, still in love, had done his best to cure her. He had paid up, worked off the debts, begged for her at the village council; now, when the whole of Impoi demanded her expulsion, his brother had sent her away for the sake of the family name. And Degalang wept, alone, in the back room.