The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

diaries kept by Ursula Graham Bower on visits to Manipur and North Cachar between 1937 and 1940

caption: thatching in the rain; dispensary
medium: diaries
person: Mulamdinang
location: Kokaden (Kokadan)
date: 11.1.1939
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
person: private collection
text: (117) Wednesday, Jan. 11th.
text: Again daybreak and Abung, and this time Gaipuiga's highly distinctive tones. I believe the Western Kabuis have a more gutteral and staccato accent, but I don't know enough of the language to be sure. Went out and found him and the two lads sitting by the fire. We all sat there while I had my tea, and then I brought out the camera and tripod. Young Mulamdinang opened it with great success. He was squinting through the viewfinder when the other boy wanted a look, and I found out too late that he was the one with suspected syphilitic infection. Disinfected the camera and viewfinder at the first opportunity and hoped for the best. At last they went off; I gave them the last of the cigarettes and away they went, Gaipuiga padding between his two lads. He really is a dignified old boy. There is quite a difference in bearing between the jungle Kabui and these sophisticated gentlemen. I think I prefer the jungle.
text: (118) During the morning session at the fire the headman remarked it looked like rain. I agreed with him. It was uncommonly warm. Then piles of thatching grass began to accumulate, and then - just as I was finishing the dispensary - it rained. Indescribable activity immediately reigned. Chirus ran up ladders, bundles of grass were flung on the roof, Kabuis shinned up the other side. Majuron occupied the cookhouse and lumbu's hut en masse; Chirus dashed into my house with roof-props, one of which fell down and nearly hit me. Thatch and language flew in all directions, and the whole building swayed like a grandstand in a gale under the combined weight of twelve or fourteen mixed Nagas and half a ton of thatching grass. The headmen stood in the yard under umbrellas and directed operations, and everybody left over went inside and looked for leaks. Distributed bakhsheesh - Rs 1/4 to each village. I'm getting short of cash and the cigarettes are exhausted.
text: During evening dispensary woman from neighbouring village turned up with the worst (119) case I have yet seen. Her baby's head and left ear was a seething mass of black scab and pus, with heads of pus dotted all over the neck and body. It is the first case I have really jibbed at, but there was nobody to wish it on, so I got down to it with Dettol, and Oh! my God!. The more matter came away the more there seemed to be. Got most of the scabs off with swabs, hot Dettol and lint, the baby shrieking the place down all the time - I bet it hurt, too. Eventually gave up exhausted and bandaged the place with wadges of cotton-wool and lint in the hope of getting matter away. Then the other babies and patients had to be done - Ooh, Lord!