The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - memoir of time in the Naga Hills as a Deputy Commissioner, 1919-1920

caption: Barnes' visit to Cantlie in Kohima
medium: articles
person: BarnesSiviter-Smith
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: Barnes had been at Kohima as Deputy Commissioner. As Commissioner he came to decide a Sema case begun in his time about land on the frontier. The only incidents I can remember were absurd ones. I had recently married and went out with May to meet him on the Sema frontier which he had reached through another route through Mukokchung. He had a friend with him, Siviter-Smith, a tea planter who had taken the Garo Labour Corps to France. Barnes took the Nagas. We all four sat down to lunch in the Government Rest House there. A huge capon was brought in of which parts had been consumed. Barnes told us that an old Sema acquaintance of his when he was District Officer was able to caponise male fowls who grew large, fat and tender. He had eaten from this one for several days, this being possible only from the cool air in the hills. At this point in the conversation a Sema dobashi spoke in Assamese lingua franca through the open window to Barnes who rose and went to the window. Siviter-Smith leaned across the table and sticking a fork into the capon conveyed it to his nose. He nodded to us that it was eatable and got it back on its dish just before Barnes turned back from the window. May and I returned to Kohima, Barnes said he would come one day later and asked if his garden on the hillock called Kuki Picket on the outskirts of the British Civil area at Kohima was in good condition. I had never heard of it. We had only one day so I collected labour to help my own gardeners and we went to see the mass of weeds overgrowing Kuki Picket. The weeds were got out and flowers and roots from my garden were put in but they were not enough so at the back flowers without roots were put in the ground. Barnes fortunately said he wanted to go next day to Kuki Picket and the rootless flowers had not wilted. May was told to exert all her feminine charm on Barnes, an elderly bachelor, to keep him on the near edge of the garden while I pretended to examine it. She was successful and we all went back happy in mind to the office.