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 four. Black Magic
caption: to Tuinem by bad path
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: There was no through road from there to Tuinem, but a complex of field-paths could be made to bring us there. At first it was fairly plain sailing along paths leading to the cultivation, but presently these began to subdivide - Chinaorang breaking down a green frond at each fork to guide the stragglers - and grew less trodden, and before long we had lost the path altogether and were scrambling down a great sweep of hillside by the banks of the water-channels and wet-rice terraces. At last our zigzag and precarious course brought us out in the valley bottom, and we teetered along the narrow field-banks to the edge of the central river. (39) I brought up short. There was no bridge. In the middle of the deep, brown water was a row of stepping-stones, round, wet, water-polished, and a yard apart. With a jump I reached the first one, and stuck there, wobbling.
text: On the bank behind me, Abung shouted directions. Luikai clucked. The porters spread out, jabbering. And at that moment, a Tangkhul in a field-gang on the far side downed his hoe and ran to my assistance. He darted down the steep bank and into the water. He waded the stream, the water swirling round his lean thighs. Straight from his work, he was mud-stained and stark naked. He caught my hand. Slowly, from rock to rock, he took me over, and I clung to him thankfully.
text: Behind me I could hear the loud guffaws of Abung, while the school-trained Luikai blushed.
text: We all reached Tuinem late, tired and hot. The compounder lost his way entirely and turned up hours later from some village quite off the route. He celebrated his arrival by a row with his porter, but I was too tired to care. What with the marching, and the long dispensaries, and the unending struggle with him - he never left an unpleasant remark unsaid - I was worn out. The only course was to go home now and refit, use the material I had, and return again in the autumn to try for more.