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Sunday, March 3, 2013

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
Once upon a time, there was a young man named Neithangzai. He was in love with a fairy lady named Lasi. Lasi also had a younger sister named Lasawi. Lasi and Lasawi lived in the upper air above the reach of ordinary mortals. But Neithangzai could go up there with the help of the two fairy sistgers. Whenever he wanted to visit them he chanted:

“Lasi and Lasawi, lovely maidens,
Drop your ladder down
For your love Neithangzai.”

So, they used to drop down their ladder. He went up with it and was with them for sometime and climbed down by the same ladder. The two ladies used to spin thread whenever he visited them. Once an ugly young man named Khawvawmtepu spied on Neithangzai’s visit to the ladies and was very jealous of him. He memorized Neithangzai’s incantation and said in a coarse voice:

“Lasi and Lasawi, lovely maidens,
Drop your ladder down
For your love Neighangzai.”

The two fairy sisters could easily distinguish the voice of Kharvawmtepu from that of Neithangzai. So they did not respond him. He repeated the incantation but to no effect. At last he consulted an old widow. The widow said, “Taste the stool of Neithangzai and drink his urine. Then your voice will be exactly like the voice of Neithangzai.” He did it. He repeated the incantation several times. Now, his voice was exactly like Neithangzai’s voice. He rushed to the place where the fairy sisters lived. He canted the song and the two sisters took him to be their lover. So they dropped down their ladder. Kharvawmtepu was quick in climbing up. When they saw him they found him to be a dangerous man but did not know what to do with him. Night was approaching but he did not like to go home. They promised many things but he rejected them all.

Night came and they prepared common bed for all. They asked him to sleep at the corner, Lasi in the middle and Lasawi at the other end. Kharvawmtepu went to bed first but Lasi sisters had something else in mind. They put off the light and it was dark. Lasi said,

“Move a bit,
Move a bit to the corner;
No place for my sister Lasawi.”

Lasi repeated the same request three times. At last he was a bit annoyed and moved with some force and fell down to the ground below. They heaved a sigh of relief. Then came Neithangzai and chanted,

“Lasi and Lasawi, lovely maidens,
Drop your ladder down
For your love Neighangzai.”

This time they suspected his voice and said, “You are not Neithangzai, but Kharvawmtepu.” “I’m the real Neithangzai, please,” he cried. But they were adamant. He was waiting and waiting but in vain. It was getting late but still they did not like to drop the ladder. At last, he gave them a final word, saying, “I will make a bonfire; if the smoke goes up straight to you, know that I am your love. But if the smoke follows the meandering river down, know that I am Kharvawmtepu.” They agreed. He made a bonfire and the smoke went up straight to the abode of the ladies. They were convinced and dropped their ladder. But Neithangzai hardened his mind and ran back straight to his far off village. The two ladies got down and were running after him. To the hills they said, “You hills, shrink down, shrink down for us to see our love Neithangzai.” The hills obeyed and shrank. They could thus see his headgear with feathers on it from afar, still running non-stop. After some time they met a group of people harvesting in the field. “You, who are harvesting, you have seen our love Neithangzai?”, they asked. “We have seen him, but he passed seven hills”, replied they. They did not give up hope. Still they ran. At last they reached his village and entered his house. They asked his wife his whereabouts. “He has gone to the blacksmith”, said she. They gave her their necklace, saying, “Go to him and show him this necklace and tell him we have come to see him.” His wife was also very clever. She went but entered the neighbour’s house and disfigured the necklace with fire and came back and reported, “Yes, I have seen him but he has burned this necklace and gave it back to me.” They didn’t give up hope and said, “You go again and tell him we are his guests and we feel hungry.” She indeed went and stayed sometime in the neighbour’s house and returned, saying, “I have seen him and has instructed me to give you corn for your food”, she reported. Discouraged, they returned home.

Neithangzai returned home and came to know that the two ladies who had come to see him were the two fairy sisters. So he started running after them again. He cause a heavy rainstorm and the two ladies were shivering in cold. He then turned himself into a burning bonfire in the cave. When they saw it, Lasawi said to her elder sister, “Let us approach that fire for it is too cold in the rain.” “Do not think it is a real fire. It is Neithangzai”, replied Lasi. So they proceeded on under the heavy rain. They had to cross a river which was in flood. There was a new bridge over it. Lasi hesitated to walk on the bridge. Her younger sister insisted that they had to walk on it because it was the only way for crossing the river. She walked and reached the other side and said, “See, there is nothing to fear. I also crossed it easily,” assured Lasawi. But Lasi knew that it was Neithangzai. At the repeated assurance of her sister, Lasi was walking over it, and Lo! When she reached the middle, it broke down and Neithangzai caught hold of her bu the hand. “Don’t catch me, its too late. I know you do not love us anymore. We sent your wife many times to call you. You disfigured out gold necklace also,” charged Lasi. “She did not see me at all. On my return home I knew it was you. So, I am running after you upto this”, reported Neithangzai. “In that case, if you really love us, you have to do something, some sacrifice to prove your love. If you stand the test we will marry you, if not, let us part for good. We will turn into Phunchawng* tree in full bloom. For three consecutive morning, if you can prevent birds from sucking our nectar, we will get married, if not, fare well”, said Lasi. Neithangzai had no alternative and so nodded his head. So they turned int Phunchawng tree in full bloom. Neithangzai got up at dawn and prevented all the birds from sucking the nectar for two consecutive days. He was quite sure of success. At night he was heavily drunk and forgot to wake up in time. When he woke up, the sun was already up. He went there but alas! All kinds of birds were perching on the branches of the tree enjoying the nectar. Neithangzai stood still, full of regrets and remorse. Lasi and Lasawi said to him, “Part shall never meet again.” So saying, they vanished in the air never to return again.

* Phunchawng: It is a thornless species of cotton tree which grows to a great size. It is a variety of Bombax malabaricum.

Source: Prof.(Dr.) Lal Dena,Hmar Folk Tales, Scholar Publishing House, New Delhi, 1995.

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