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 eight. Exile.
caption: Zemi reaction to the death of a child
medium: books
person: HaichangnangNamkia
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (69) About this time, just before we went back to Laisong, there was an addition to the staff in the shape of Haichangnang the mail-runner. He was Namkia's brother-in-law, a simple, lovable, child-like little man. He hadn't been with us long when his small daughter caught the common summer diarrhoea. Almost the first we knew of it was the death-cry in the village.
text: A little later, as I sat reading, I heard grunts, as of a laden porter coming. I was just rising to see if it were a messenger from Haflong, when a shadow flitted along the thin matting wall of the hut and Haichangnang appeared suddenly in the doorway. His face was all disfigured by weeping; the grunts had been his sobs as he ran up the path. He fell at my feet, clutched my knees, and began to cry out in Zemi.
text: I got him up again and called Namkia. When he arrived, Haichangnang asked quite rationally whether I had any medicine to poison him. He couldn't bear his daughter to go the long, dark road of the dead alone.
text: I don't remember how we calmed him down, except that sal volatile entered into it. But I do know that his remaining baby was our chief argument.
text: Zemi infant mortality is very high indeed. He returned with the next mail to hear that, an hour before, the baby too had died.