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 twenty-two. The Coming of War
caption: visit to Calcutta
medium: books
person: NamkiaHaichangnang
date: 12.1941
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: I went to Calcutta again in December, 1941, on my annual holiday, and once more took Namkia. This time he insisted on bringing Haichangnang for company, chiefly because last year the villagers had not believed Namkia's all-too-sober accounts of the Second City and had called him a liar. Haichangnang, he felt, would be a safe witness, for the little man hadn't the brains to tell a lie. His mind worked slowly, on the most literal lines.
text: There was the episode of the garden peas. We had raised a crop of an imported strain, and Haichangnang loved them. He was always begging a few as a treat. One day he was discovered among the pea-sticks, carefully and methodically killing off all the bees which were visiting the blooms. I stopped him in horror. He said in an injured tone that he was " killing the flies which are spoiling the peas, because I like peas, you see ".
text: I called Namkia and asked him to explain. He drew Haichangnang away to the end of the garden and there expounded slowly, in simple words, why, if it were not for the little bees, there would be no peas for Haichangnang to eat. (164) There was a long, anxious silence while the little man's churning brain tried to make sense of it. Then came the dawn - a radiant spreading of comprehension and a long-drawn : " Ohhh ! "
text: I had my own reasons for taking them both to Calcutta. The war was drawing nearer the Far East and I knew only too well the kind of talk which was going on among the disaffected Zemi. I wanted to show them the War Weapons Exhibition which was then on - not very much, perhaps, but still something to quote against the irresponsible elements. So, arrived in Calcutta, off we went to it at the first chance, the men in all the glory of tribal dress.
text: We were a third of the way round before anyone really noticed them. Then things happened. Cameras appeared, a solid, blinking row, at waist-level, eye-level, held against cheeks and chests; cines whirred, officials hurried up - they were the two most-photographed men in Calcutta. In return for publicity-pictures, they were allowed the run of the Exhibition. A friendly sergeant-major took charge of them, and when sightseeing palled and the sun grew hot he ran them off to the canteen and filled them up with ices.
text: " Whenever you want to park them, miss," he said. (I still had to tail them round when I went out shopping.) " You bring 'em along to me. I'll keep 'em happy."
text: Day after day I did; and they waxed fatter daily and loved him more. In later years, whenever we met British troops Namkia used to go over and look for his sergeant-major.