The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: letters from Ursula Graham Bower
caption: description of Luikai
medium: lettersnotes
person: Luikai
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: [first part of letter missing] [Luikai] first arrived as my permanent coolie on March 14th, on the first trip. He was dressed in the thinnest, dirtiest cloth I have ever seen, he was filthy himself, and had bad scabies, but after we had forcibly cleaned him and dressed him, he proved to be an intelligent lad with some education and soon learned bearer-work and made himself useful. Then I found out his story. His wife died in childbirth last July and left him with a baby girl. He was very poor, and to kill a cow for her funeral he had to borrow Rs 7/8, which, mounting at the local rate of interest, was Rs 15 in February. Unluckily he made a mistake in the distribution of the meat, and the village claimed another cow. The case went to the local officer, who decided that Luikai must pay Rs 5/- to the village as a fine. As he had literally not one pice, his sister paid for him. Well, there he was penniless, with a small baby; so he went to his father, and offered to come and work for him if his stepmother would look after the baby, and let him live in the house. Father was willing, but stepmother refused, so he eventually found shelter with his married sister, where apparently he found charity a thin diet; he was not a very happy little Naga when I collected him.
text: I took him to Imphal, to the bungalow, and we have since been entertained with pricelessly funny imitations of everything from my host to the refrigerator, including, in a brave moment, what I must admit was a very good one of me being furiously angry with him on the top of Lumbui hill!