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 eleven. The Affair of Degalang
caption: Rangalang refuses to agree to marriage; Namkia gets his reluctant agreement
medium: books
person: RangalangDegalangNamkia
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: He had left us by then. I had myself completely forgotten the matter, till one day, on leaving the house, I found the camp full of the elders of Impoi, and in their midst, as they (90) sat on the level space outside the kitchen, a Namkia even gloomier than they. I asked the reason. It appeared that the marriage season had begun. In response to Degalang's anxious requests, they had come over to see Rangalang and make formal application for the girl. They had been met at the door by a stream of abuse, a flat refusal, and a denial that any understanding existed. So there was Degalang in floods of tears in the lines, his cloth flung over his head and the cook weeping in sympathy beside him; and the girl crying herself sick in the village - she was pregnant now, anyway; and the deputation down here to see what Namkia could do.
text: Namkia himself was not at all sure he could do anything. He came into the house to think it over, and sat there, biting his lip. At last he took leave of absence for the afternoon and went off up the village, prepared, apparently, for a stern struggle, with the deputation trailing raggedly behind him; and that was the last we saw of them till five o'clock.
text: It was just on the edge of evening and not yet dusk when Namkia came home. He walked wearily. The dust of verbal battle, so to speak, still clung to him. He was very hoarse. In his hand he carried the white cloth of betrothal, the formal, clinching present from bride's father to groom; and he vanished into the lines with it to Degalang.
text: By all accounts it was a notable combat. The opening rounds found Rangalang strongly entrenched and Namkia probing for an opening. He discovered it. The Rangalang family were hard up; a wealthy Laisong suitor was nosing the hook. Then battle began, barrage upon barrage of accusation, thundering denunciations of their mercenary instincts, reminders of the Zemi tradition of leniency towards lovers, bitter reproaches for their breach of faith, prophecies of shame and disaster, and all in one overwhelming flood of eloquence in which I don't believe Rangalang managed to inject a defensive sentence. I felt considerable sympathy for Rangalang there. Namkia in the full tide of oratory is (91) cataclysmic. Bewildered, outflanked, shaken, Rangalang abandoned his main defences and conceded the principle of the match.