Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Letter and an Apology & Small City of Small Wonders - Candle Vanrempuii

 A Letter and an Apology

Today I found a letter you wrote in an old notebook of mine.

It broke my heart just picturing you write it alone at night, in the room we used to share, while I was away.

It was a resignation letter addressed to the owner of Genesis.

You wrote about how your health has been an ongoing problem for you and I'm pretty sure you meant your mental health.

You wrote about how you needed to take more days off than the 12 days Casual Leave you are allowed to take a year.

You wrote about how you've caused a great inconvenience for your colleagues and how it was unfair for them.

You thanked your employer for having helped you in your professional life and personal life.

You thanked everyone there for welcoming you to be part of their family and how much you've learnt not only as a laboratory technician but also as a person.

I picture you writing all these things.

I picture you alone.

Scared.

At night.

Scribbling down a resignation letter you would not send.

I wish I had been there

To tell you you're not alone and that we will deal with your health issues together.

To tell you you've made a grammatical mistake here and there.

To hold you and tell you everything will be alright and that I have got you and you need not be scared.

I would've written a better letter than that -

one that isn't as humble or as thankful.

I'm so sorry I didn't.

 

 

Small City of Small Wonders

 I live in a city which is often taken for granted and criticised for quite a lot of things.

A city which always seems to be hated for what there is to hate and never seems to be loved for what there is to love.

This is a city where -

I see the bus stop sign lean on a middle aged beggar who has quarrels with a supposed friend we cannot see.

I see an old lady who sits on a plastic chair on a public step sunbathing

Her hair shining  like silver against the winter sunlight.

I see an old man who wears an awkward little hat the looks of which he pulls off anyway, most probably owing to age

Whom I told I fancied his fashion sense that one time I had the chance.

I see a determined old man who irons every single paper money he receives from his small ei chawp dawr¹

I see successful old men marry young beautiful women and be criticised for doing so

Just as I see successful old women marry their young handsome drivers and be criticised for the same

But I have also seen both overcome the criticisms and build beautiful families.

I see old men with whom we can share taxi cabs give away handshakes at the time of a pandemic as blessings to youngsters that educate them on it.

I see educated and well intentioned men love this land so much so that they squander their entire life earnings to become politicians for the people and fail, my grandfather was one of them;

And I also see corrupt men rich with dirty money and a mouthful of shit successfully become politicians for the people.

I see a person tell me I will outgrow writing about love with age and I see myself outgrowing that person instead.

This is a city where -

There is a man who has written the entire English Dictionary by hand because he couldn't afford one and he happens to be my uncle.

There is another man who has not only read the Bible but written It in Its entirety again by hand and he also happens to be another uncle.

There are people who read their Bibles in the secrecy and sanctity of their bedrooms without people having the slightest hint.

There are kind old ladies- mother to local artists like tailors and musicians who do not know what further to do with their talents- who shopkeep for their daughters while they're in labour and their sons while they're away. These kind old ladies have mean negotiations with other kind old ladies and agree on a price that makes the two of them smile, my grandmother was also one of both.

Gardening is not yet a profession

and there are people like myself who love that it isn't because it means that every single flower or plant or shrub you see within this city are either planted and nurtured by hands that love them

or that they are strong enough to withstand the world and its cruelties on their own and that they beat the odds that so often are not in the favour of us all.

This is the city that mourns and cries with a single voice in chorus for a man who lost his life to the love of his life in the blink of four innocent eyes and he also happens to be another uncle of mine.

No October sunsets are as beautiful as the ones in the city of Aizawl and this is coming from a person who has not even been to every state and UT in India.

It has taken me 22 years to realise that there will never be October sunsets as beautiful as the ones in this city no matter how many states or countries I go to.

This is a city often taken for granted.

This small city of small wonders.

If there ever is a place where the god of small things lives

and survives

I am convinced it is in this small city of small wonders.

So often taken for granted

It's no surprise that so many of us take after you.

But in you I see what there is to love and what there is to hate but I chose to love you for whatever there is to love.

You choose to do the same and you choose to be my home.

And I choose to be the same.

And I hope one day we find a person who looks at us and sees in us what I see in you now that I've turned 22.


¹ a grocery


Candle Vanrempuii has been off the poetry writing grid for some time since bringing out her first book Evermore two years ago. We're really happy to have her back with these two new poems written in her inimitable first person narrative style that draws you in and makes you feel like a confidant to her deepest thoughts and observations.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Poems - Airawdi


I was hoping to come home safe and happy
I was hoping to sleep to my mother's lullaby
but Ma, I came home bruised and broken
I came home with a sad lullaby.

I was hoping to learn to fly soon
But my wings were clipped by someone
in a shepherd's coat.

He came into me like a sinner to a church
in desperate need of salvation.
He let loose all his sins inside of me,
but Ma, I'm not a church
his cross is too heavy for me to bear.

He crushed my life with each thrust,
leaving an invisible scar inside and out.
The help I screamed for
could not seem to penetrate his ears
even as they were wide open.

I was hoping to sleep to your bedtime story,
But Pa, I came home with a sad story
for us to cry to.

Tell me I was not at fault for the darkness
that came my way,
Tell me I am more than the dirt on my skin
coming from the hand that touched
without permission.

                                ~ ~ ~


We never really own anything, do we?
Even our own flesh,
how the earth claims for it
once life gives up on us.

We never really own anything, do we?
Even our own heart,
how it often is full of others,
how it often breaks for others.

                         ~ ~ ~

This October
I am starting to believe in impermanence.

I have heard enough of funeral bells,
and the sound of hearts breaking.
I have seen the tears of the one
who is left behind,
I have seen loneliness creeping through
cracks of heart;
Another leaf has yet fallen around me,
And all I do is watch.
Another leaf has fallen softly,
but how it breaks the tree that bears its absence.

This October,
I am starting to believe in impermanence.

            ~ ~ ~ 


Airawdi (Femina Hlychho) is a postgraduate in English literature from Mizoram University.  She is presently working at Govt. Saiha College as a casual lecturer. She describes herself as a realist by day, a thinker by night. She writes mostly about humanity, human loss, love, recovery, and death, and her poems are sometimes confessional, sometimes inspired and sometimes therapeutic. Through her lines, she hopes to connect the common thread that holds humans together.

She has a page on Instagram where she posts her poetry.

 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Peanut Butter & You and I - Priscilla Lalnuntluangi

 Peanut Butter

The train from Delhi to Mumbai
was set to last for three days.
Mama and I were on our way to meet daddy.
Mama held my arms tight,
so tight, that it almost made a mark.
I had recently turned five
and girls that age often stray from their mama.

The train was blue, duskier than the sky.
The coolies carried our bags
and mama my arm.
Mama sat me on a bunker,
warned me not to move an inch.
But I moved my head
into the compartment that was next to ours.

There sat a girl that looked like me.
We were so alike
that when I smiled at her,
she smiled at me too.
Her compartment was next to ours
Mama told me they weren’t Indians
Mama told me we weren’t alike
Mama told me we spoke a different tongue.

The girl offered me her peanut butter
I politely took it
Together we sat watching running trees
We talked, never needing language
I knew we were going to be great friends.

The sun rose and set for three days
and so did our time.

Papa stood on the platform, waiting for my hug,
She and I quickly waved a farewell,
Never knowing our names.

Thirteen years have rolled by
and we never met again.

Does she remember me?
I remember her peanut butter.



You and I

Some days
I wish
that I could have your life

On better days
I wonder
Who prayed for mine.


Priscilla Lalnuntluangi lives in Aizawl and is doing her M.Pharm pharmacy practice at Jamia Hamdard. She recently brought out a charming book of poetry and illustrations titled The Dearest Things and maintains a similarly-titled page on Instagram. She has written all her young life and says that while she changes a lot, her poems and words are the only things that have stayed constant. We hope she continues to put her talent to good use in her poetry and art.




Sunday, December 6, 2020

I am a Mizo & 90s Baby - Kim Miller

Foreword:  When I started this blog in November 2007, it was tough finding Mizo writers in English to feature. Every time I was tipped off that so and so wrote poetry (or prose bits), I'd call them on the phone to ask if I could publish their writings and most times they would decline, some even squealing in embarrassment to say that they did do a bit of writing but it wasn't anything great and that they wrote just for themselves and would die of mortification to see it published for all the world to read. Since then, there has been a wonderful welcome change. I'm not sure when the tide began to turn, perhaps with the advent of Lang Leav and her ilk and the popularity of Instagram but young people today are not just writing poetry but publishing them - if not in print, then on blogs or on social media.  Over the next few posts, I hope to feature a number of promising young Mizo writers in English all happily under 26. Happy days ahead!


I Am a Mizo

I am a Mizo
Born and raised in these green hills
Played in the sand after church
Collected marbles for the thrills
Wooden swords clash on till dusk
I am perfectly happy here
Said my prayers and palms joined hence
Words flow by innocence of nature
Culture neatly cushions my existence
A loudspeaker announces my duty
My identity stands firm in the people
The strong, standing code of the community.

I am a Mizo
One ancestor roamed the missionaries’ land
A diluted burden of genetical gripe
The other welcomed them into the clan
Clad in the warmth of my traditional clothes
I obediently speak my people’s language
“But never speak the white man’s tongue,” they guffawed
While we go to his church for marriage
Lest they laugh and make fun of my oddities
I head up the hill for the gatherings
We shouted and called and listened to a voice
A voice to control all our policies.

I am a Mizo
My religion is European
My accent is American
And my culture is Korean
The TV speaks of life never envisioned
Books read stories of the great beyond
My mind twirls around in curious bigotry
The fate of a stagnant life prolonged
Bathed in the aroma of the Sunday pork
The commanding bells ring through the city
The selfless inclination of an ancient passing
Now flow in the blood by decree.

I am a Mizo
But I went far far away
Went to the mainland for education
Surrounded by souls my people hate
In the South I stopped rolling my r’s
Away from the safety of the ILP
“I hate our outdated palette,” my roommate declared
To Starbucks for a cup of coffee
So I stand firm for the truth of the moment
An individual through the reason of senses
If my core beliefs and identity ever collide
I shall see the world through my lenses.

I am a Mizo
As Mizo as can be.

 

90s Baby

 

I was born; the year Cobain passed,

When FRIENDS graced the television screens of Americans

Crawled and wailed when Tupac left a legacy,

And too busy weeping to see the Lion King.

Opened mom’s drawer, her Backstreet Boys cassettes she hid

Ripped the tape apart, the plastic plaything

Yet received a generous visit from Santa.

My innocent eyes watched the news, a channel reports an accident

Two twin towers hit by two planes

Then continued playing, parents watched in shock

At least that’s what they told me anyway

Mom and Dad were my solace, tucked between them in bed

For all the Archie comics I read, the worn out Tinkle magazines

Were three G.I Joes without limbs, and dusty SEGA cartridges

I dreamt of nothing, closed my eyes then became morning

While the world moved on with its everlasting dread.

I knew not of my purpose, my existence

And so Mondays were joyful, weekends were magical

Impressed all my classmates with my eraser collection

And my extensive knowledge of Dexter and DeeDee’s anatomy

Kicked a plastic ball on the field till it rolls out to oblivion

 Traversed through the grass for its whereabouts

One friend decided to call it quits, so we stopped playing

All for a good two days.

That one Firehouse song kept playing, a recluse for everyone

But soon, Boney M will replace all playlists in households

Yet life went on, Eddie Guerrero’s funeral proved it

But this time, my parents didn’t say anything.

There’s something that sparks joy in me

 In the past of which I mostly dwell

Before Spotify and Netflix, and all streaming services

Trampled all our inconveniences to dust

Where someone could show off their mp3 collection

Thousands of songs proudly displayed on Winamp

Downloaded from shady websites of malware

With internet data to sell kidneys for

My Nokia gleefully tuned its ring, the notification

To the latest SMS pack for my weekend

Texted my crush, with butchered words and bracket emojis

Then off to play my games copied from the privileged

I thought of a new creative name for my Facebook

While I aimed to have a thousand friends displayed

But I had to stop playing all my songs at once

Since the Illumati claimed literally all the celebrities

Twenty six years later, I live on with this memory

Not a long time indeed, yet I’ve said my goodbyes

We all come and go like tumbleweeds on the sand

To create a generation of memories and cringy dance fads

We had to work for everything, but so did the past

The future too will create its own set of dilemmas

As I live today while Gen Z lost me with their humor

Were times when boomers got lost to the world we lived in.




Kim Miller : Besides being one of a lamentably few Mizo males writing in English, Kima also writes very articulate prose.  He holds a postgraduate degree in English literature, was a Project Fellow at Mizoram University, taught English for a few months at T. Romana College and currently attends coaching classes. He enjoys writing, playing the guitar and reading. He also maintains a blog, albeit rather sporadically, at https://kimmiller116.wordpress.com. We hope to see a lot more writing from him in the future. 



Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Lockdown Poetry - Doris Zualteii


I.

From the start,

The gamut of information

Bubbled and burst.

And simultaneously,

Fear and hope alternated.


(Acceptance sometimes

made an appearance)


But mostly, we are learning..

Then relearning

About this strange new virus

That refuses to stick to prototype,

To obey its classification, to be slotted and subdued to submission.

It evades and changes behaviour

Seemingly slowly, but continuously.


An article here, supports a theory

An article there, dismisses the theory.

An obvious contact tests negative,

A distant passerby gets positive.


A strange virus, that begot this strange rhyme.


 ~~~~~~~

II.

'We were born to die'

What a crass definition

That deserves an angry denial,

At the least, a parting dirty look.


But being alive only ascertains

That yes, we are most surely

Likely to die. Someday, not soon

Maybe, but someday, definitely.


And the certainty of death

Is what makes life precious.

And it makes the living so alive

And the leaving, so difficult

And the left, forever bereft.


~~~~~~~


III.

I'd like to travel, she said.

She had dreams of Paris and New York.

I promised her, someday.


He loved weekends,

How he could simply stay home

Or visit family or a favourite hangout.


Now she doesn't speak of travelling,

And he prays for school to start. Every night.


It breaks my heart.

I've travelled, though not far.

And the smallest, will she ever

Be confined to Home, no school,

Not... ever?


6 months, and it feels

Paralytic, a lifelong diagnosis,

With a terrible prognosis.


~~~~~~


IV.

I have lost my vocabulary.

It was misplaced somewhere between my phone

And the television.

I struggle for words,

Synonyms that would deliver.

But i have to settle for words that convey

Half the meaning, with half the impact.


I have to read, again.


~~~~



As distressful and trying these pandemic times have been, it has also created circumstances and opportunities for people to do things they don't normally have time for. Such as our featured writer here.

Doris Zualteii is a medical doctor, a pathologist to be precise, at the Mizoram State Cancer Institute. When she's not busy at work, her three young children and a medico husband keep her extremely busy at home.  The last couple of months, however, have helped her birth these very personal reflections in poetry - something she hasn't done for several years. We'd love to see more creative output from her so do keep writing, doc!