The Mizo hills are lovely and they are peaceful. For nearly 25 years now since the formation of the state of Mizoram, the guns have been more or less silent in the hills – the same hills that once resonated with the outcry of violent insurgency against the State. This peace was however, bought at a very high price. Many of course know the history of how the mautam or bamboo flowering led to famine, and how political apathy towards the famine-afflicted hill people led to their rising up in insurrection. The process by which the Mizo people emerged from the shadow of the gun holds up a few lessons for the other nationalities in the region that are warring against the State. Ideally, it should also have given the State some valuable insights into conflict resolution here.
As it happens, the war-torn years have left their mark on the psyche of the people and on their way of life. The civilian bombings and village regrouping exercises for instance, have changed the traditional way of life – our guest for the Page Turners section this week, JV Lhuna, has written about those years of terror and strife.
A generation after, many young poets and writers from Mizoram are today trying to reclaim their lost heritage and tribal ethos, travelling back through their writings to the pre-Christian era even. They are the voices that are often heard in the various forums celebrating literature from the Northeast nowadays. This tendency, and the nostalgia for a past that can only be recreated in fictional narratives, is however not something entirely new to Mizo literature. We revisit a Mizo classic, the first ever novel written in the language, to see how history and folk tradition have always allured the creative mind.
Mizo literature has come a long way since the missionaries first gave the language a script. There are many problems however, and Padma Shri Laltluangliana Khiangte who has been active in the fields of literature and education in Mizoram for the past so many decades, speaks of a few in this issue of NELit review. The hope remains though, that the language should be included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.