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: case of puerpural fever; dirt; Luikai forced to abandon European dress and given Tangkhul cloth
medium: diaries
person: Luikai
date: 18.2.1939
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
person: private collection
text: (148) Saturday, Feb. 18th. Chingjaroi.
text: Still blowing great guns, blast it; dust everywhere, trees roaring, leaves flying. Breakfasted late. At 10 a.m. compounder came to say he had been called to a case of puerpural fever in the village, so I went too, in my capacity of patroness, assistant compounder etc. Loaded medicine tapu, and put it on Luikai. House at extreme bottom of village, down highly acrobatic path, mostly small knobs of rock with large gaps between. Woman was brought out, looking very seedy; compounder attended to her. Large crowd gathered, dust and filth everywhere; patient herself unspeakable. Luikai kept the small boys back and produced patient from somewhere. Rather anxious about Luikai; he has a cough and only two rather thin looking body cloths.
text: As it was so cold and beastly I told Abung to kill the goat, and keep meat for himself and Luikai, sending the rest to the headman and the lumbu - who, by the way, has presented me with a cloth. Usual mix up, about taking the goat to Imphal. Compounder hauled in by Abung, rather to my annoyance. Goat previously hunted out from (149) herd by small boys and camp Naga. When we were discussing tamashas with the headmen, I spotted Luikai in a purple attrocity of a shirt. Put the compounder on to him. Got him out of cookhouse, and made him go away and shed shirt. Hauled him out again, told him if he wanted cloths, I would get them for him, but I wouldn't have him in Abung's shirt. Promised to get him a good cloth at Tuinem. Even that didn't brighten him much. Also gave ticking-off about washing. He is cleaner, but certain portions, eg. tummy and neck, pretty black still. He retired, rather depressed. Compounder told he he is a widower! - he looks about eighteen, but is probably 22 or 25 - and very anxious to please the memsahib and keep his job. After some heartburning, I told Abung to call him - Abung referring to him as 'our chokra' - and gave him my best Tangkhul cloth. He made a hasty sort of salaaming motion, and said 'H'zoor!' and went out of the door like a bullet. I saw him legging it to the compounder, and showing him the cloth, still folded; compounder gave a jerk of the head, and back came Luikai (150) to the cookhouse, legging it hard with a broad grin. Have glimpsed him twice since in it, looking very swagger. Didn't realize what a handsome cloth it was till now. Hope he's pleased. I had some doubts as to its being the right kind of cloth, but he didn't stop to grumble.
text: Abung tells me the kerosine is short, and it is still blowy and cold as hell. There is one compensation. I saw Luikai, in his loincloth, sprinting after my blown-away shirt and retrieving it from the bushes. Gosh, how a Tangkhul can run. It was a sight.