Life is nothing but an amalgamation of memories. Good or bad, bitter or sweet, all these memories of ours form the very essence of our lives. This is a story about me trying to discover myself and narrate my experiences to all. I often close my eyes and try to identify that one person who holds the most influence in my heart and soul and all I see is my father or rather 'Appa' in our dialect. I may have never been able to express it but he has always been someone who holds a very special place in my heart. I love my family of five including me but Appa is that foremost person whom I love and respect the most of all.
The first memory I have of my father is being beaten by him. I was probably 3-4 years back then. When I recalled the incident later after I grew up, enough to have a consciousness that differed from a child, I shared it with my mother and came to know that the incident occurred during a marriage ceremony in our neighborhood. Bomzon (the surname that we use), the clan that I belong to under the Tamang tribe are one of those sub classes in Tamang tribe that are forbidden to consume pork. But of course, in this modern era it all falls under personal choices. However, from the traditional point of view, we are forbidden to consume pork though I never could identify the reason behind it prior to the advent of the internet. It's very much similar like Muslims not eating pork for they consider it to be 'haram' because of their filthy living habits. Nevertheless, being a little kid, I had no idea and ate what was served to me by someone and my food included pork as well. I was
seated with the kids of our village and my parents were completely engrossed in the activities of the marriage ceremony because it's a default choice to help neighbors during such occasions unless you are not on friendly terms with them. Despite being engaged as helping hands, my father did come to look for me from time to time and when he did, his eyes were fumed with anger to such an extent that his expression metamorphosed into the deadly image of fear that has always been deeply entrenched into my heart.
The next moment I got trashed. He then walked me to home. I was walking before him while he kept hitting me from the back. I was embarrassed for being publicly humiliated but in the eyes of adults, kids do not meet the eye. Being a soldier in the army, his treatment was always brutal but just. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I am always afraid of my father but at the same time, I am grateful for his stern guidance that turned me into who I am today. When we reached home, he bathed me with cold water, (tap water in the hills are very cold) and after I was changed into a new set of clothes, he got the 'sukpatang' (a clay item that resembles a small pot with a handle almost like a mug used to burn incense) filled with charcoal and 'sukpa' (plant used as incense). He exposed me to the smoke produced from the 'sukpa' which is a common practice in our community to purify us from the negativity pertaining to the spirit world. This unforgettable incident in my life has given me some lessons to learn. Number one, do not mess with Appa. As a father, he has always cared for me and his firm attitude to my upbringing helped me mature rather early comparatively to my peers. The inexplicable fear I have of him, has always helped me to walk the path of norms and never deviate into choices that could have ended me into trouble. Number two, never mess with
Though it's a general notion among people that the people of Mongoloid descent living in the north eastern parts of India have cultures that are very different from the bulk of the population in the central region and in many cases, it may be true but we do have many things in common. Superstitions, rituals, customs, etc. are common forms of existences that are deeply rooted in every corner of our nation no matter what ethnicity you belong to. With modernization, many have changed their outlook towards such practices but we cannot deny the fact that most of us still revere our ancient traditions and practices and I belong to this category. Though we may lack reasons behind
many traditional practices that may not be justifiable from the perspective of modern world but I believe that there is always an underlying reason behind our traditions and customs.
Let us take the idea of not eating pork as an example. Cysticercosis is always a possibility for pork consumers especially in backward regions like ours where modern medical facilities and education on civic senses are things that do not exist till date. Forget about mentioning the fact that during the period when such customs were framed by our wise ancestors, they lacked the modern medical expertise yet due to years of experiences they generated such taboos which must have saved them from epidemics many times in the olden days. Though I am educated and know that doing things without proper explanation defies our God given logic but I still hold my traditions and customs in high esteem. I am proud of our rich cultural heritage for it makes us unique in the entire population. As I grew up, I learnt that we should never look down on our traditions and never have a sense of inferiority just because the western colonialist have portrayed us as inferiors in their academic works
on ancient Indian history when India was still a British colony. This lesson to cherish what my ancestors have given to us is something I will never forget in my life.