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-seven. The Scheme Begins
caption: passes
medium: books
person: PaodekumbaRamgakpa
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Binny had devised a system of passes by which people moving through the area on lawful business could carry a paper, issued either by Perry or myself, rubber-stamped with a mark which the illiterate scouts knew. Some time that spring Binny sent up from Imphal a British signaller with a convoy of stores and rations. He came to Mahur direct, not through Haflong; he had no pass, and didn't know he needed one. I was right away in the southern spurs of the Barail, one of the most inaccessible parts of the district.
text: The signaller managed to find himself some porters and marched his loads up through the bewildered screen till he reached Laisong itself. On his tail, padding along in their red blankets, were the leading scouts from Asalu and Impoi. They knew their orders - no, he had no pass; but how on earth could they arrest a Sahib ?
text: Paodekumba was in charge at the camp. Harder than ever, tough as a rubber ball, he would have arrested anything. But he didn't like to make a mistake. He sent Ramgakpa across to give the man tea while he and the others conferred in the men's lines.
text: They decided in the end that he was a Jap spy. They had never seen a Jap, but the signaller (who was, I believe, Welsh) had black hair. They had never seen a European who wasn't either fair or brown, and they didn't think that any (197) such existed. They sent up the village for reinforcements, looked out a piece of rope, and, while Ramgakpa was serving the signaller's supper, Paodekumba, off-stage, was briefing his raiding-party. At that moment, fortunately for the signaller, a runner came in with a message. I had reached Mahur and would be back in two days.
text: Paodekumba regretfully postponed operations.
text: The signaller was very glad to see me when I turned up. He said he'd been well looked after by Ramgakpa, and that the Nagas had given him porters all right to come up; but they didn't seem to understand when he wanted to leave again. So here he still was. He wasn't at all happy about Khamba. Khamba, darkly suspicious of him, had kept on prowling round like the Hosts of Midian, expressing opinions to himself in a sullen growl. I'm not sure the signaller was really happy about the Nagas, either.
text: Paodekumba met me with a rush outside the back door.
text: " Who is he ? Why's he here ? Is he a Jap spy ? D'you want him captured ? I've got the men here ! "
text: He had, too. They came scrambling out of the lines, full of hope, bringing the rope with them.
text: " I would have captured him before," said Paodekumba. " But I thought I'd better wait till you came back. Can we do it now?"
text: He was quite upset when I explained.
text: " I did hope he was a Jap," he said.