Friday, March 29, 2013

Mizo Prodigals

This post is not going to go into much details and is written in the same manner as how it played out in my heart as i wrote it. Therefore, i must state that there was much more thought and experience that went into the writing of this post than is apparent in the actual writing of it. If anyone has any question or would like to query further please feel free to ask.


    Michael's the name, Michael Lalrinkima Pachuau to be exact. How do you do? I'm a seemingly well balanced young male who somehow made it to the age of 24 (running as of now) through a series of twists and turns, ups and downs. I was born and have been brought up in the state of Tamil Nadu. I am a Mizo tlangval, with my father hailing from Lunglei and my mother from Aizawl.

And I am a Mizo Prodigal.

What is that you ask? Well its a term i coined during the nascent years of Orkut when i was busy getting acquainted with the nuances and intricacies of Social Networking. Back then, i was still not comfortable hanging out or making friends with people in my local community, not to mention the Mizo community. I was socially awkward, clumsy and very withdrawn. Since then, i have socially 'blossomed', become adept with the art of looking confident and making acquaintances. I have made bonds of true friendship and have become much more articulate and outgoing.

And I am still a Mizo Prodigal.

I still haven't defined it yet, you say? Oh i'm sorry, i seem to be straying from the point. But then you see, the term mizo prodigal is a condensation of the earlier two paragraphs.
A Mizo Prodigal is a Mizo person who was born and brought up, or spent the majority of his/her life, outside of our native state of Mizoram and feels a sense of disconnectivity with the Native Mizo people and society. From Personal experience, this is apparently not a phase in life. It is more like a stamp that is certified and felt in the inside of our hearts even if it isn't visible from the outside.

I don't regret a thing in the way i have lived my life. Besides it being against my personal code to do so, everything that i am, all the pieces and blocks that make up who i am are made up from all the unique experiences i have had as an outsider in both worlds. In many ways, my vai upbringing helps me to gel with much more types of people than a normal mizo upbringing may have afforded me. I would go so far as to say that settling down seems more natural outside of mizoram than in it.

Don't get me wrong, i know and accept that i will always be a Mizo, no matter where i was born, who i grew up with or what i plan to do later on. And i am proud of us as a people and as a culture. I WISH i was able to write and express myself in Mizo with the same ease as i do so in English. I WISH i was able to have the bonding experiences that growing up in such a close-knit society as ours provides. I even WISH i was able to have gone through the whole Sunday School-Thalai Pawl-YMA socialisation process, just so that i could understand what the fuss is all about. I WISH i knew how to dance the mizo dances, hit the bamboos during the cheraw and play the traditional games.

But at the same time, i have to confess, AGAIN from personal experience. This feeling of disconnectivity goes way beyond mere cultural awkwardness. It is a result of a social and psychological gap and pressure. And it is VERY mutually applied, not a one way snob train like many 'mizoram seilian' people assume it to be.

If anything, my second-last stay in Mizoram gave me an experience that reassured me that there is a sense of disparity in our worlds even among the 'enlightened' social strata. I was attending the North East Writer's Meet which happened at Aijal Club where noted writers and poets from the North East had been invited to read out excerpts from their works and could discuss and chat about them too. As i reached a bit late, i caught only the last few lines of a poem that were being read out by a Mizo poet who goes by the nom de guerre of Sanga Says. I didn't listen to it long enough to know what exactly it was about, but what will stay etched in my memory is that of the Question and Answer session right after the reading, where one of the attendees, a local writer whose name i have forgotten, basically asked him two questions. Weren't you born and brought up in Shillong? What makes you think you understand the problems of Mizo people and Mizoram in general? The fact that this person was also another writer who was reading out his material on the day, and that he was apparently the editor of a popular local zine made the condescending tone of his questions bite even harder. Sanga Says wasn't even based out of the North East for crying out loud.

Its a bubble. And it sometimes feels like a non permeable one.


zakk sangkima said...

Greetings from a fellow prodigal :-)
I was born and brought up in shillong then moved to delhi and have been here since. I can totally relate to your post and ur sentiments. I remember the first time i was in a hostel, I somehow felt more comfortable with the non Mizos coz the Mizos there would often make fun of me calling me a Khasi coz i was from Shillong. it may have been a joke to them but it made me believe like i didnt belong in the Mizo community. But im happy to say that i feel more mizo than ever now.

Mizohican said...

You're preaching to the choir here, brah. Brought up outside Mizoram since class 3, yeah, there had been a couple of times when I feel people in Mizoram look at me differently or treat me differently (example: Sandman, what makes you think you know about the social issues in Mizoram? You were not brought up there, so stop writing about gender discrimination etc etc) There will always be an attempt by certain folks to alienate us, but at the end of the day, we keep writing about our beloved Mizoram no matter what they say, and that's what counts.