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 twenty-two. The Coming of War
caption: quality of life in Laisong
medium: books
location: Laisong
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Life itself was hard and uncertain. One never let a quarrel linger. A bout of fever, or a falling tree - who could be sure of surviving to make it up ? One lived entirely in the present, with a directness, a simplicity, which produced a great content. The lack of material wealth, too, accentuated spiritual values, set them, rather, in higher relief; they were seen more clearly, without the irrelevant clutter and distractions with which, in a more complex society, they are overlaid.
text: Life might be short, but it was rich and human. I think the Zemi were a great deal happier than we. There one derived pleasure from small and transient things, from kindnesses, friendships, loyalties and the like, which because of their simpler, barer state were more deeply felt and of greater meaning. Then, too, there was always the sense of mortality and impermanence to quicken appreciation. Death was never very far from anyone in that malarial, doctorless country, and thinking back, I believe it was chiefly that which held one so firmly in the present and prevented too great building of hopes for the future. Certainly, to enjoy every simple pleasure as though it were for the last time sharpened the senses and gave life an extraordinarily rich texture.
text: Security there was, though, in a wider sense. There was an immense feeling of temporal unity, of a past reaching back into the mists, but very little different from the present; of an inevitable future stretching forward in time. A man could plant and build for twenty years or for generations hence. If he did not live to enjoy it, his children might, and if not his own children, then his brothers' or cousins' sons, linked (163) to his own line far back in the ramifications of the clan, children of his own kindred and his own descent. Men often spoke of their clan or family as of themselves, " I " - " I founded Gareolowa," " I killed an Angami down there by the river, before the British came." It proved on inquiry to be some ancestor, not always a direct one; they would speak of ten or fifteen generations back in such an intimate tone. So closely were past and present linked in one long continuity that the individual life was almost lost in them, for they were one. And if the individual were mortal, the clan, the tribe, of which he was a part for ever, went eternally on.
text: Inner peace might be of the Zemis' own making, but external peace, which they valued in spite of themselves, was nothing more or less than the Pax Britannica; which was already threatened.