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  • Writer's pictureSpeak Your Roots

Nga Kynmaw/ I Remember

That is why the Khasi stories always begin with "When man and beasts and stones and trees spoke as one...." This shows the Khasi world view, that sees the universe as a cosmic whole that receives its animation and force from the one living truth, their God, U Blei.

- Around the Hearth, Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih

They say that long before the written word arrived in the mystical hill state of Meghalaya in Northeast India, an ancestor lost the manuscript that contained the religious and philosophical scripts of the Khasis as dictated by God. Descending from the great summit after meeting God, the ancestor came across a raging and turbulent river. He clenched the manuscript between his teeth as he tried to swim, but being from the hills, he was not adroit at swimming such torrid waters. He bobbled midstream and the manuscript was reduced to mush, which he swallowed. He managed somehow to return home empty-handed, and recounted his plight to his clansmen, assuring them that he could still recite God's word to them. The clans convened a council of members where the ancestor instructed them on the laws and teachings of God. It was from here, they say again, that the Khasi traditions of storytelling originated. Bah Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih's Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends brings alive the history and traditions of Khasi storytelling. The Khasis developed a script only as recently as 1842, thanks to Welsh missionary Thomas Jones. Their language and tradition of oral storytelling, though, has survived for centuries among a people of soft yet strong disposition who believe supremely in the symbiotic relationship between nature and man. Who live in the shelter of clouds above pine trees, lush green mountains, and share songs and poetry warmly around the fires of their hearth.

"Nga Kynmaw/ I Remember" sent by Randeep Baruah @rondeview_ 💭🗯️💬Thank you Sir for this valuable reminder on the oral tradition of the Khasis! 🙏🙏
Taking his inspiration from Around the Hearth: Khasi Legends (Folktales of India)(2007) written by Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih, Randeep talks about the story of the lost of script of the Khasis that he recounts from Nongkynrih's book. It is a story that cements the power of story-telling and the art and truth contained in the oral tradition. May the words we speak echo the spirit of our forefathers, who with a wisdom of the ages laid down the roots of our intrinsic bond with nature.
Randeep Baruah is a writer and communications designer.
Picture credit: @rondeview_

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