(A narration of the writer’s experiences as he revisits the dreamland of his childhood)
All of us are familiar with the above lines from a popular song. It evokes memories of days gone by, of longing for that special someone, of times shared together, of blue skies and green landscapes, of sparkling brooks, and moonlit nights.
The following story is also a love story, a story of love that began when I was a small boy in that 'greatest' and ' biggest' of all places, Serkawn, a village comprising some 20 odd houses, just a mile from Lunglei, and home to the
As such Serkawn was a tiny place, with the schools, one with its weather cock for the boys and the other for the girls, the church, the Mission hospital, and the
I remember the birds, small and big, which were our targets with traps and ‘sairawkherh’ (pellet bow). On clear days you could see very far, with the sky so blue and the birds criss-crossing in the breeze.
One particular bird was called 'Vamur' (Pengleng – swallow or swift) and seemed to fly, mostly from the east towards the nearby heights of Ramzotlang and thence onwards to the summit of Zopuitlang. My grandmother often told me that these birds were bringing loom threads from the peaks of the twin Tan and Lurh mountains where that most enchanting of all fairies (lasi) Chawngtinleri lived and had a loom. These Vamurs carried the threads all the way to Zopuitlang where the loom's 'them tlang' (a sort of warp beam) was located, and then flew back to Tan and Lurh to repeat the circuit. Of course, ‘Chawngtinleri's Puanthin Tlang', the hill where Chawngtinleri shook her clothings to freshen them, was also in the adjacent hills of Sairep. The twin peaks of Tan and Lurh could be seen from Ramzotlang, and I would gaze longingly for that land of romance, heroes and heroines, music and dance, 'Fiara Tui', 'Chhura and Nahaia, 'Rih Dil', of Lallula and of Rorehlova (whose name I happen to bear) , of 'lasi' and kindred spirits, and so many other stories and legends of yester-years, and so may of whom seem to have originated from that part of the world. I had hoped, faintly, that I might perhaps make a trip there some day.
In 1958, the year I graduated, I had a long trek with my uncle, the late Pu Lalmawia, starting from Seling to Champhai, then northwards to
Years later, namely in 1973, I came on transfer from
Just about five miles away, on the southern end of the valley, was the
Going a little further past Ruantlang, we were shown the location of the lake of 'Rih Dil'.
At Dungtlang itself, I was very keen to visit 'Lianchhiari Lunglen Tlang' situated above the village. But as there was no approach road, (not even a footpath), and our time was short, we had to be satisfied by looking at the pristine timberland interspersed with flowering trees, amidst which were the remains of Lianchhiari's loom, and the rocky precipice where she sat and pined for Chawngfianga, her beloved. It was as if the forest was cradling and providing a protective cover for her. It was obvious that an approach road was needed. Accordingly, an EGS road was sanctioned and the local officer advised to execute it.
After passing Vaphai village, we came to 'Tan', to me the most facinating mountain of all mountains, where Chawngtinleri ruled over her animal kingdom, and dispensed her favours, namely, a successful hunt, to those in her good books. This was where she worked on her loom which spanned across the sky from the towering heights of Tan and Lurh to the pinnacle of Zopuitlang.
I do not remember the exact time of year, but to me, the forests at the foothills of Tan were at their greenest, with Vaube, Fartuah and other flowering trees interspersed among them. The mountain itself inspired awe, grandeur and majesty, all at the same time. The whole scene took one's breath away. I would have loved to come across the graceful animals of legend, on whose back sat the 'lasis', or the wild mithuns with rainbows between the tips of their horns. With so much to see and hear, I do not remember looking for 'Vamurs' in particular. Pu Hrangthiauva invited our attention to various points, particularly the 'puk' (cave) where Chawngtinleri was supposed to dwell. We wondered whether Buizova ever lived here and sang his melodies causing the trees to shed tears of leaves, and where the Liandova brothers might have found the giant python. As it was already late in the evening, we had no time to stop at the fabled hill called ‘Thasiama Se No Neihna’, where Thasiama’s mithun incredibly climbed to the top and delivered a calf. A little ahead on the roadside was also ‘Fiara Tui’, which the Mizos considered to be the sweetest water in the world. Thogh we were all keen to taste the water, a visit to this spring too was reserved for the next day.
Fiara Tui (Vaphai)
We passed through 'Lam Thuam Thum', said to be the trijunction of the three trails which figured prominently in the story of Kungawrhi. The opening to 'Kungawrhi Puk' (the grotto of a maiden called Kungawrhi) was full of dry and broken branches obviously brought by a flooded rivulet, now dry. I requested them to clear the 'Puk' and fence the area with timber.
We were also shown a number of memorial platforms known as 'Lungdawh' (I was told the stones were sometimes removed for other purposes), and a number of old grave stones. Some of the engravings were hardly legible, but some had highly interesting information about the deceased. From a distance we were shown 'Lamsial khua', where Fiara was said to have lived. I was also told of 'Lamsial Puk' where the skeletal remains of some of our forefathers were preserved. An EGS approach road was sanctioned to enable tourists to visit it in the future - but the villagers were advised to preserve the bones, fence the area, and to prevent anyone from pilfering them. Wherever we halted, the villagers were told how vital it was to preserve the virgin forests which serve as a hinterland, and as a sanctuary to the heritage sites, however intangible they might be. 'Lurh' was on the other side, but there was no road to enter the forest. So an EGS road to a village on the slope of the mountain was sanctioned, which was completed soon after.
As the sun was setting we reached Farkawn, to me a romantic name that often rang a bell in my ears. The most senior male citizens of the village welcomed us attired with the most traditional dresses they could muster, complete with ornaments, trinkets, and the inevitable pipes, some of which were made with ‘tursing’, the bamboo used for making the best quality pipes made in these hills. It certainly was the most colourful welcome that I ever received in the course of my extensive tours in Mizoram. It was a pity that we had no good cameras, not to speak of VCRs and such like.
On our return journey we stopped at the legendary 'Fiara Tui' on the eastern slope of Tan, a few miles from Farkawn. Being the dry season, there was no water on the roadside. We had to descend some metres down below to find the spring. The water was trickling. So we took the help of a big leaf to direct its flow. After drinking our fill, we filled one jerrycan and a number of bottles. We spent a long time at our task, so small was the flow of water. On return at Aizawl, I gave samples of the Farkawn ‘Fiara Tui’ to friends, and the rest was consumed in the course of a year or two. On very special occasions, it was also mixed with other beverages.
As readers might be aware, both Farkawn and Vaphai claimed to have the ‘true’ location of 'Fiara Tui'. The one claimed by Vaphai was on the western slopes of Tan. It was situated at the base of a huge boulder - a small lovely pool of clear water – almost too good to be true. It was located in the midst of a very thick growth of trees and bushes, so thick and green that the very appearance suggested the presence of water. Here also we drank and filled another jerrycan. An approach road to this 'Fiara Tui' was also sanctioned as it was of some distance from the road.
On the foothills of the mountain was the famous hillock 'Thasiama Se No Neihna'.
This piece was originally titled Ka rawn fang leh kan tuanna tlang and published in Newslink in 2007.
Tan Tlang photographed by Zara Ralte, 2006,
Lamsial Puk photographed by Marii, 2005,
Kungawrhi Kua, Fiara Tui and Rih Dil, www.dipr.mizoram.gov.in