After a while, we all together sat at the kitchen for having conversation. As I noticed,
the kitchen was built according to hill’s kitchen design. Though it looks classic, it was beautifully set-up. Also, I can see “Funga” and “Sagai” being built in the middle of the kitchen. When I mention “Funga” and “Sagai”, those people who travel to hill areas regularly
would be mulling thinking about it. I guess there will be many people who have not seen it. After noticing all those things and experiencing love, hospitality and affection from them, I am wondering when and how can we inherit and makes understand our children and young generation on about the tradition, culture, customary law, food, language etc of different tribes of the State.
This led me to think that rift and trust deficit prevailing amongst the people of different tribes and castes is because one amongst the other has not tried to learn and understand other’s tradition and culture. This might be the reason that there have been some concerted efforts putted in order to incorporate syllabus of culture and tradition of all the different tribes at high school level. After some time, his wife started making drink for me which she prepared in a mug. Along with it, I also saw her trying to fry Yongchak(Tree Bean) and Ngari(local fermented dry fish) inside the Funga. As the smell of dry fish comes out I was feeling much hungry. Then, with dry chillies along with the Yongchak and Ngari, she pressed it altogether to make a kind of chutney out of it. Looking at it, my mouth was striving to have a byte of it. Just after preparing the item, the teacher lends me the drink which they have prepared in a mug. Seeing at it, I was in a mood thinking to have it or not then I asked him, “Oja since morning I have only one cup of tea with 2-3 piece biscuit. I don’t know whether it will be good if I have the drink”. Then he politely replied, “That is even better. We used to have the drink after we came back from day-long cultivation. It will lighten up your body”. While I was in a confusing state of mind after hearing his words, his wife said, “Nothing will happen. My husband also used to take it regularly. Instead, it will cover up your empty stomach”. After they convince me about the drink, I started having the drink with some water along with the Yongchak. Though the drink smelt hard, I went on having thinking that it was one of tasty drink. Afterwards, I query him about the drink asking him how the drink is made. As informed by him, the drink turn out to be a kind of “Yoo atingba” (Alcoholic beverage) prepared from Nobap fruit. When I came to know that the particular drink is made from the Nobap fruit, certain thoughts strikes me. And, at that point of time I was thinking that making of Nobap fruit beer must be the livelihood of many people of the Thanlon village. Considering all this, I questioned myself that as a move to preserve the legacy who will do the documentation out of this. Talking about alcohol certain thoughts comes in mind which many anti-drug organisations of the State may or may not accept it. As I bring in the subject of alcohol, I really hope that people would not mind it. Also, I don’t know people would take my expression as an attempt to encourage alcohol drinkers. One day, I was given an assignment of covering an army programme at Leimakhong. Actually, from the officials of the army the invitation was come in the name of the editor. Since, I was insisted to cover it, I accepted it happily. My following story does not revolve round thearmy programme instead it was in encountering two journalists at the programme. With condition of anonymity, I will not ascertain the identities of the two journalists. Who knows unwanted incidents may break out at their respective homes if I reveal their identities. After the programme, we all came together in a car, which one of them brought. We halted in midway of the journey. There, two of them insisted me of having “Khari” drink. Since we came together, I have in mind that I should accompanied them in having the drink. In between while I was thinking what is “Khari” they talking about, we suddenlyreached at a house. In there, both of them were very frank with members of the house as if they know each other from earlier. After talking for a while with members of the house, one of my colleagues asked them to offer “Khari” drink and we sat at courtyard of the house waiting to be served. Looking at two of my colleagues expression, it looks like that they are very much hungry for the drink. Their curiosity about the drink made me more interested to know about the “Khari” drink. Later, the particular drink turn to be a kind of alcohol made from local black rice (Chak hao). As it was served, I also have a taste of it and like this I was introduced to what they called “Khari”. Talking about it, “Khari” is one form of alcohol beverage, looks “Cola” in colour and costs Rs 100 per litre. Also, when I came to know that there are also kind of alcohol beverage drink prepared from banana, amla, sugarcane and heitup, it really stunned me. Interestingly, someone also told me that there is also another kind of wine made from betel leaf which I have not seen it yet. Really I was enthralled when I came to know that a kind of alcohol can also be prepared from betel leaf. I mean it must have smell well and taste good. I am sure tourists when visiting the State would surely want to taste it. Since such kind of drinks is rarely found, it can be taken as part of assets of State’s tourism. Also, I have a strong feeling that a notable book can be written down based on the different indigenous alcohol beverage drink found in the State. It might prove to be an interesting book, if one authored it after undergoing in-depth research on the subject.
Translation by Rakesh Lourembam