My Nagaland

+100%-

It was the year 1989. One fine morning, my father announced that we are going to visit North-East India during Durga Puja holidays! Oh my joy knew no bounds as right from my childhood, North-East used to hold a special place in my heart and attract me to the utmost just akin to a hidden treasure yet to be discovered!
As I stepped on the platform of Dimapur Railway station one morning from Guwahati, a thrilling sensation played through my spine. After all it is Nagaland ~ perhaps the most unknown and hidden territory of India due to various historic, social and logistical reasons! After my father acquired the Inner Line Permit from the relevant office, we resumed our onward journey to Kohima. Though we found lot of tourists from West Bengal and rest of India in Meghalaya, but here our family members are the only non-Naga representative in the whole bus! No, a sense of insecurity did not engulf us. Just that we have suddenly landed among a set of people who are all racially, linguistically, culturally, physically (features-wise) absolutely different from ourselves; we realised that due recognition needs to be awarded to the existence of this other India also. Yes, it is high time the self-declared guardians of India and the “nationalist” brigade learn to appreciate all the tenets of this heterogeneous country which are infinitely large beyond the narrow cocoon of Hindi-Urdu-Bhangra-Garba-Dosa-Idli-Bollywood-Khans-Bhajan-Ghazal-Punjabi-Gujarati-Tamil-Mumbai-Delhi-Bangalore-Rajasthan-Kerala-Gandhis-Gomata, to mention a few!
After encountering numerous hair-pin bends, virgin green forests and Jhum-cultivated hills; the Naga capital arrived on the scene high above the peaks just like a pack of small toys! It was noon when we reached Kohima ~ a picturesque city spread all over the surrounding hills. The War Cemetery, protecting the graves of the British soldiers who died fighting against the Japanese, is perhaps the most important site of Kohima. The whole evening got spent in exploring the central areas of the city which included a gallant Church and an awe-inspiring tombstone, honouring the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the 1944 Battle of Kohima, and carrying a highly moving inscription as Epitaph ~ “When you go home/Tell them of us and say/For their Tomorrow/We gave our Today”. Indeed Kohima had an unique charm and speciality of its own!
As our bus was entering Manipur through the Mao gate next morning, I took a last glimpse of the retreating enchanting Nagaland through the window promising to myself that one day I would indeed return to this land with more time at disposal to explore the state in a much more comprehensive way.
Well physically, I am yet to revisit the state. But I have indeed entered the state in psychological terms through interchange of thoughts and ideas. Yes, I am talking of none other than NAGALAND PAGE, the daily which got introduced to my life 10 years ago.
And I vividly remember the joy which I experienced when a letter of mine saw the light of the day in Nagaland Page for the first time. It seemed my connection with Nagaland has got a new lease of life! Perhaps this heart to heart connection is much more than mere personal trip there and this is exactly the reason that my relationship with this Naga daily remains intact through (365×10) days literally as I go through its pages each and every day. And as I get enriched through the editorial features and other columns of the daily, I also find my opinion on any subject regularly published there. Not only do I get thrilled on feeling that today I have visited Nagaland through my thoughts, this inter-exchange of ideas promptly land me on the lap of Rabindranath Tagore’s epic poem “Bharat Tirtha” where the bard says “Here everybody will bring into union and exchange gifts. Nobody will go empty handed from this seashore where great souls come together to pay reverence”! Yes this exchange of minds ideas by transcending all barriers of region language culture and nationality form the very basis of humanity and brotherhood.
As for Nagaland Page ~ the bridge with my very favourite state; I don’t know what to say!
When many newspapers cater to the lowest common denominator with sexually-explicit pictures or tinsel town gossips dominating the pages; some zealously batting for any particular political outfit or heartlessly taking up the cudgel on behalf of market forces/ruthless “economic liberalisation”/privatisation of essential service, Nagaland Page has always remained absolutely neutral and humane in all possible spheres. Neither blind love nor blind hatred towards any outfit or Government. Editorials always speaking in favour of secularism, peace, humanity and welfare of all ~ common farmers to environment.
Not to forget the liberalness of the daily through another angle also. In 2009, two published letters of mine had not been saved by me due to inadvertence. Both those pieces were close to my heart. So I asked Nagaland Page office if they can send hard copies of those two issues to me in exchange of payment from my part. As I was waiting for the reply, one fine day the postman delivered two concerned issues of Nagaland Page at my doorstep! Without charging a single paisa, the daily had exhibited such a personal warmth to me. Those two issues are not only my cherished treasure, those are gift of love from Nagaland as well ~ my Nagaland!
And last but not the least ~ Ms. Monalisa Changkija! As a true journalist, our respected editor prefers to call the spade the spade keeping all norms of ethics and truth intact thus earning the wrath of vested interests! But she refuses to get cowed down by threats!
My salute to our respected Madam. My salute to all concerned in Nagaland Page. In this midst of intolerance and darkness all around, let Nagaland Page continue its role of being uncompromising torch bearer of the society, break newer ground and touch higher sky by drawing inspiration from the gallant onward march of 20 years.
Kajal Chatterjee, Kolkata