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-six. Recruiting
caption: return to Hangrum; Perry tries to persuade; attempt to foist cripples on 'V' force
medium: books
location: Hangrum
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: By the time I went back to Perry to report, the smaller Zemi villages were all co-operating and so was each Kuki settlement we had approached. Only Hangrum and its satellites - the two Shongkais and Baladhan - were still holding out.
text: " H'm ! " said Perry. " I'll talk to them."
text: We went back to Hangrum, Perry with us. We found them in a state of mental turmoil. It was a profound shock to them that the smaller villages were supporting the scheme. for years Hangrum, because of its great size, had dominated the area; now the little settlements had shown that, given a strong lead such as Namkia's, they could defy the colossus. It was unprecedented, it was unheard of. Hangrum didn't know what to do next. They abused the recruits who had come with us for not doing what Hangrum had decided was right for the tribe. The recruits said, to the devil with the (190) Hangrum dictatorship. Perry talked to Hangrum like a Dutch uncle, and in the middle of his speech Hangrum's last vassals revolted. Shongkai and Baladhan had arrived at the meeting with their recruits, so to speak, in their pockets, ready to produce them or not, according as the cat might jump, and, seeing the balance tilted for Watch and Ward, the headmen leaped up suddenly, dashed out of the meeting, and returned, voluble, with their candidates, whom they punted into the arms of the astonished Perry in the very middle of the council. After that it was all over bar shouting. Hangrum, though, that big and unwieldy village, was still in such a state of argument with itself that it was incapable of deciding anything, so Perry gave them a week to make arrangements in and we all moved off down the ridge to Baladhan.
text: When I and my party came back on the way to Laisong, the first people we met were the Hangrum headmen, who greeted us with that over-effusiveness which always means that something's gone wrong. Had Hangrum found its recruits ? Oh, yes, it had ! The two elders fell over each other to offer us beer. I caught Namkia's eye across the lip of the cup, and found it eloquent.
text: The headmen arranged to bring the recruits along to us that evening. Hangrum was large, and had a hundred and twenty houses; it had a goodly number of bucks and husky young men, the type of scout and runner we wanted; one or two of them had already, through Namkia, who had ralations there and so a quiet finger in the pie, said they would like to join if the village council agreed on co-operation
text: And then, at four o'clock, we met the recruits.
text: The headmen ushered them in with distinct nervousness. It was justified. The village council, determined to fulfil its quota but not to let us have a man whose loss could possibly matter, had swept the place of the lame, the halt and the blind. Out of the ten candidates, only three had two good eyes. None was under forty; most of them had no teeth; and (191) one was crippled. It wasn't really the old headman's fault. He was a decent old chap in his way and the village was rather much for him. But, drawing a breath, I spoke my mind.
text: The headmen looked distressed, but it was quite plainly no more than they had expected. The candidates didn't mind in the least. In fact, they perked up. I sent the whole lot packing and told the headmen that they must find us something which at least was all in one piece.