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-four. Famine
caption: monsoon gales
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: As if to match the confusion in human affairs, the Rains were the wildest and windiest we had known. The short bushes on the south cliff shook day after day to a lashing south-west gale; rain rattled like bullets on the outer walls. Inside the house, strings of wet clothes hung in a perpetual haze of wood-smoke. Only the fiercest and most expert blowing roused the damp logs to a flicker. Out in the garden the very soil was swept away; the top beds were left as gravel-heaps, while the rich silt banked on the lower fence. The fence itself blew down, and the few flowers were mashed to pulp. Believing, in my innocence, that what had withstood that first hailstorm was still safe, I went on sleeping like a child in the end room. I was unmoved when first the front and then the side matting was whisked off the roof and the thatch scattered over half the spur.
text: Then came the third gale.
text: That night the rain was battering at the walls, water was cascading in through the cracks and chinks, and the whole house creaked to the gusts like a ship at sea. Lying there in the draughty dark, I could hear Namkia shifting restlessly in the far corner. Now and then, when a glare of lightning lit up the room, I saw him looking up at the roof above; but I snuggled down in my camp cot and hunched the blankets tight with that extra pleasure of being warm and dry with a wild, wet night shut out. I only turned a little, half-asleep, when a sudden crackling over us made him sit sharply up.
text: " It's only hail," I said.
text: " Quick, quick ! - the house is going ! "
text: I reached the living-room floor in one electric leap. I stood (179) with my heart thumping somewhere high in my throat till the ripping and rending stopped, and we heard instead the splash of water on the matting floor.
text: We ventured back step by step into the sodden room. Half of it now stood open to the sky. The thatch was stripped clean off. The rafters were splintered, the ties were gone; and purplish lightning flickered evilly behind the naked beams.
text: I could never sleep through a gale in that room again.