Monday, June 9, 2008

Nuchhimi

Translated by Dr. Margaret L. Pachuau


Once upon a time there lived two children. The older of the two children was a young girl by the name of Nuchhimi. One day her mother told her, “Today you must go to your aunt’s house and give her some pork.” Nuchhimi replied, “I do not know the way to my aunt’s house.” Her mother said, “You must walk as the crow flies, until you come to a fork at the end of the path. You will find two paths and one path will be neat and clean and the other will be very dirty and unkempt. You must follow the path that is neat and clean. It will lead you to your aunt’s house while the other path will lead you to the house of Hmuichukchuriduninu. Make sure that you follow the right path.”

Unknown to them, Hmuichukchuriduninu was listening carefully to the entire conversation, so she ran home and cleared up the path that led to her house. She then piled up all the dirt and the debris along the path that led to Nuchhimi’s aunt’s house. After a time, Nuchhimi and her younger brother set off towards their aunt’s house. They followed the instructions which their mother had given them and very soon they came to the path which was neat and clean. And because they thought that the clean pathway was the path that they had to follow, they went up the path and finally they reached the house of Hmuichukchuriduninu and delivered the pork to her.

Nuchhimi became suspicious from the very beginning because she felt that it was the wrong house that they had come to and so she was very puzzled. But Hmuichukchuriduninu was very cunning and she spoke well to them and treated them just as their own aunt would. “How nice of you both to visit me. Keep your luggage aside, you must be very tired.”

When it was dusk and as night fell gradually, Hmuichukchuriduninu told Nuchhimi, “I will cradle your little brother in my arms at night and you can sleep by yourself in the corner.” And in that manner they went to sleep.

A little while later Hmuichukchuriduninu tried to devour Nuchhimi’s younger brother by digging her sharp beak into the little boy’s head. He cried out in pain and called out for his elder sister. Nuchhimi asked, “What is it dear brother?” But Hmuichukchuriduninu said, “It is nothing. It is only the ants that are biting him.You may go back to sleep.”

Saying so, she dug her sharp beak into the little boy’s head and killed him in the dead of the night. She laid the bones from his head and his limbs in a trivet. When dawn broke, Hmuichukchuriduninu rasped to Nuchhimi, “Go and light a fire at once.” Nuchhimi rose to do as she commanded and in the process of lighting the fire she saw the bones of her younger sibling and she began to weep. Hmuichukchuriduninu called out, “What is the matter? Why are you weeping? Just light the fire.” She replied, “I am not weeping, the smoke from the fire is making my eyes water.”

After the morning meal, Hmuichukchuriduninu caught Nuchhimi and strapped her inside a basket and tied her to the crossbeams of the house. She then shut the doors fast and went off to her jhoom. Nuchhimi could not get out and she was in great dismay. At that very moment a mouse came by and Nuchhimi pleaded, “O mouse, please gnaw away at the ropes that bind me for I want to escape.”

The mouse then bit away at the ropes that held her fast and so very soon Nuchhimi was able to flee to her own house. When Nuchhimi’s parents heard about the manner in which Hmuichukchuriduninu had tormented their children, they were enraged and they declared, “We will take revenge.”

And they thought up of a plan to torture Hmuichukchuriduninu. They went to her house while she was still away at the jhoom. They hid an egg inside the hearth and placed a nest of white ants inside her blanket. They also placed a snake inside her water jug. Then they hid a bamboo knife in the wall of her hut. After that they placed a number of tiny red ants inside her oil can. They smeared her bedpost with all kinds of filth and grime. By the opposite end of the door they placed a large wooden pestle. And finally they put a ferocious huge dog under her ladder. Then before they left the house they instructed the mouse very carefully, “You must respond every time Hmuichukchuriduninu calls out to Nuchhimi.”

In the evening Hmuichukchuriduninu came back from her jhoom. She had caught a barking deer that was pregnant with child and she was all wet and bedraggled after a heavy thundershower. When she reached the front porch, she called out to Nuchhimi, “Open the door fast.” And the mouse responded, “How can I open the door for you? Have you forgotten that you have strapped me to the crossbeams of the house?”

Hmuichukchuriduninu was beside herself with rage and she broke open the door in fury. The mouse then quickly scampered inside a hollow bamboo tube. When Hmuichukchuriduninu realized that Nuchhimi was not in the house she was greatly perplexed. She grumbled and began to light a fire to warm herself. As soon as she did so the egg burst in her eye. She rushed to get a drink of water from the water jar but the snake bit her hard and she howled in agony, ‘Awi! Awi! Awi! how painful this is …let me rest awhile upon my blanket.”

She pulled the blanket over herself and the white ants bit her all over her body. She grabbed hold of the bedpost in a bid to escape, only to smear dirt all over herself. She then tried to clean herself by wiping her hands on the wall of her hut, only to be pierced by the sharp bamboo knife that had been cleverly inserted in it. She then tried to smear some oil over her wounds but the moment she poured the oil over herself, the tiny red ants began biting her.

In alarm she cried, “There are too many pests inside my house. I must escape.” And as she ran out the large wooden pestle hit hard against her.

At the platform in front of her house, Hmuichukchuriduninu wept copious tears, “Nuchhimi has run away and so has the barking deer that I captured.”

And she began to jump about in painful frenzy. Soon the platform gave way under her weight. The ferocious dog and the equally wild goat began to bite her viciously. A little later Hmuichukchuriduninu died, much to the delight of Nuchhimi and her family, who headed for home and lived happily every after.



Picture: A u, pangang a mi, acrylic on canvas by HK Jerry

9 comments:

amuana said...

thuziak sawi hmain painting hi kan sawi lawk. Ka ziak thiam ve miah lo na in.

Rules of third a hmang diklo tlatin ka hria.Keimah ka dik lo nge, puanzar hi a langsar (lian + colorful) lutuk a, hei hian centre of attraction atan a duh ber a pawt peng ka ti. Puanzar khian ka mit a la hmasaber tlat. A dawtah naupangte khi.

mesjay said...

Painting bawk khi - Mizo in a ni lo tiraw? An dawh kang lova.

pezo said...

Ngaihnawm ve. Kan naupan laia ka nuin min hrilh lai ka hre chhuak zawk mai. Ka mithlaah Hmuichukchuriduni hmel a la lang tlat.. Jerry chu ni ila a hmel hi ka paint thiam ngei ang le.. Ka ni si lo hi chu...! Jerry-a painting khian a solo exhibition ka kala ka lung tileng ve ringawt tu a nih khi.. Critical appreciation lam chu midang tihah dah teh ang.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog browsing through the internet, from one blog to the other. What a wonderful idea to translate Mizo literature to showcase to a broader audience. Please keep it up!
--Sharmishtha

Storyteller said...

Sharmishtha, thank you so much for your interest. Do spread the word.

pezo, a dang pawh kha lo chhiar zel rawh.

amuana & mesjay, artist hian artistic license a hmangah ngai mai ang u hmiang

feddabonn said...

i'm probably going to have my knuckles rapped for this one, but which direction DO crows fly? [grin]

@amuana: agreed the hanging clothes are what catch the eye first. is there any particular reason the children should have?

Storyteller said...

The title literally translates into "Ka u, is that a caterpillar" which brings the focus bang on the kids. But as I said earlier, let's give Jerry, who's the son of one of the most respected names in Mizo politics Pu HK Bawihchhuaka and is also a close family friend, credit for taking artistic license in his creation of this evocative piece of art.

chawnghilh said...

I like it so very much.

kalpalata said...

Fascinating stories. You have done a great job translating them and making them accessible to a wider audience;