For the past few days, I have been searching for one particular song and it’s lyrics. The song which I heard when I was in class 6 or 7, that must be somewhere in the year 1998, 1999.
It’s already been 20 years or so since I heard that soul touching song in tape cassettes. And as time passes, I have forgotten about the song as I have never heard it again (mainly because it’s not available in digital format).
But in the last few days, my facebook feed is filled with stories of Nagas and Kukis and their blamegame. That’s when I remember the song ‘Khipa Kha Maleisa’ and have been looking for it since then (still looking for the song in mp3 ). But unfortunately I wasn’t able to get hold of the song, but somehow I got the lyrics of the song with the help of my good friend Grace Chithung.
The song ‘Khipa Kha Maleisa’ is a song sung by one of the survival of the Kuki attack in 1997
On 12 February 1997, the villagers of Henpung kuki stopped a bus that was traveling to Shillong from Imphal. The villagers had kept two trucks in the middle of the road to block the highway. Women with daos (big knife) and men with utup (club) came inside the bus and started pulling down whoever they thought were NAGAS.
On that fateful night, many Tangkhul students were traveling on that bus to go back to Shillong. As Mr. Tennoson, who was also among the passenger, narrates in his blog post “I Am A Survival”, 18 Tangkhul students were traveling on that bus that night.
The villagers with Daos in their hands began asking all the Nagas to step down from the bus. Shocked and scared for their life, many students had to lie about their identity. The villagers managed to pull down 5 Tangkhul students from the bus and were handed over to the Kuki undergrounds. What was the crime of these students? None. But just that they were Nagas.
Out of the five Tangkhul students, three were killed. They were Paul, Lovejoy, Xavier all from Hungpung Village. Their dead bodies were found in the jungle after a few days.
The other two were held captive and were beaten up mercilessly. However, with God’s grace, they manage to escape after breaking the wooden wall. With bloods all over their clothes, they ran towards the highway and managed to hop into a bus that was going back to Imphal.
After escaping death in the hands of the Kukis, Kingsword and his friend returns back to Ukhrul, still haunted by the incident. The thought of his friends being killed mercilessly, the tortures that he had gone through in the hands of the Kuki undergrounds just because he is a Naga had put a scar in his heart.
As a young man, he may have wanted to avenge. He may have wanted to go and torture if not kill the Kukis who are settled in the Tangkhul areas. But Kingsword chose a different path, the path of music to avenge.
Kingsword later on composed the song ‘Khipa Kha Maleisa’ to express the trauma and tell his story to the world. The lyrics (the Tangkhul lyrics is being loosely translated into English….) of the song goes like this.
Kazing thanghaira Oh ewui ava / It is dawn, my beloved mother
Ot saksa milu, okhtui wortam zat uka / Please pack my bags, I’m Going for further studies
Ngasotnao bingva zat thui ser haira / All my friends have gone
Leishi Khamatai oh ewui ava /Oh My beloved mother
Oh iwui kala kashi/ Oh how unfortunate
Yangkashi wui pangli /In the hands of the enemy
Kashuirak tuknar hai /I was held captive abruptly
Ava da ngakaola / Though I bleated out my mother’s name
Ngakaokhon ngachon mi khavai/ My cry for help to rescue me
Khipa kha maleisa, Khipa kha maleisa /There was none.
Mana (Khipa kha maleisa) 2* There was none to my rescue
Lumtur kahaiya ava wui pangsin/ My mother’s warm lovely meal
Zakhui mangkhuida e pheikar phokuka/ I will have it and set forth
Kaphung mile thingthing, makanda zatuka/ I set forth crossing thousands of mountains
Han ungra sara oh iwui ava/ And I’ll be coming back soon oh my beloved mother
Khanaowa ava wui tui, Zatfalu enao/ My mother’s last words, go forth my son
Kasa Khavali mamalai hai alu/ Do not forget the Creator
Ana kasana Awui pangli lei/ He is the creator and everything is in His hand
Mahai mei rano nawui shongza/ May you have a safe journey
(Oops… Never knew translating Tangkhul lyrics is such a pain in the ….)
The song brought tears to the eyes of many people, old and young alike. But it was not just the melodious song that touched everyone’s heart. It was also the fact that Kingsword chose a song rather than violence to tell his story.
After facing such tragedy, he would have definitely wanted to avenge. Either with violence or non-violence. He chose the later. He chose music instead of violence.
Both the Kukis and the Nagas have suffered a lot because of the ethnic conflict. As per the UNC report, from 1992 till 1997, 207 Nagas were killed, 197 injured and 2582 Naga houses were burnt down while 47 0 Kukis were killed, 205 injured and 2870 houses were burnt down in the Kuki – Naga conflict during this period. The ethnic clash brought so much of sufferings to both the communities. Many children became orphans, many parents lost their sons, many women became widows and many villages were burned down, forcing villagers to fled and start afresh a new life.
We as communities have an option, either to choose the peaceful way and to reconcile or to take the path of revenge with violence.
It is up to you and me, either to choose violence or peace. Which one are we choosing?
Let us pray that we choose the later.