What makes the Lightning

In the early days of the world, when the animals fraternised with mankind, they tried to emulate the manners and customs of men, and they spoke their language.

Illustrations: Agniv Das, Class 7, Heritage Academy High School, Howrah

Mankind held a great festival every thirteen moons, where the strongest men and the handsomest youths danced “sword dances” and contested in archery and other noble games, such as befitted their race and their tribe as men of the Hills and the Forests—the oldest and the noblest of all the tribes.

The animals used to attend these festivals and enjoyed watching the games and the dances. Some of the younger and more enterprising among them even clamoured for a similar carnival for the animals, to which, after a time, the elders agreed; so it was decided that the animals should appoint a day to hold a great feast.

After a period of practising dances and learning games, U Pyrthat, the thunder giant, was sent out with his big drum to summon all the world to the festival. The drum of U Pyrthat was the biggest and the loudest of all drums, and could be heard from the most remote corner of the forest; consequently a very large multitude came together, such as had never before been seen at any festival.

The animals were all very smartly arrayed, each one after his or her own taste and fashion, and each one carrying some weapon of warfare or a musical instrument, according to the part he intended to play in the festival. There was much amusement when the squirrel came up, beating on a little drum as he marched; in his wake came the little bird Shakyllia, playing on a flute, followed by the porcupine marching to the rhythm of a pair of small cymbals.

Illustrations: Agniv Das, Class 7, Heritage Academy High School, Howrah

Every one was exceedingly merry—they joked and poked fun at one another, in great glee: some of the animals laughed so much on that feast day that they have never been able to laugh since. The mole was there, and on looking up he saw the owl trying to dance, swaying as if she were drunk, and tumbling against all sorts of obstacles, as she could not see where she was going, at which he laughed so heartily that his eyes became narrow slits and have remained so to this day.

When the merriment was at its height U Kui, the lynx, arrived on the scene, displaying a very handsome silver sword which he had procured at great expense to make a show at the festival. When he began to dance and to brandish the silver sword, everybody applauded. He really danced very gracefully, but so much approbation turned his head, and he became very uplifted, and began to think himself better than all his neighbours.

Just then U Pyrthat, the thunder giant, happened to look round, and he saw the performance of the lynx and admired the beauty of the silver sword, and he asked to have the handling of it for a short time, as a favour, saying that he would like to dance a little, but had brought no instrument except his big drum.

Illustrations: Agniv Das, Class 7, Heritage Academy High School, Howrah

This was not at all to U Kui’s liking, for he did not want any one but himself to handle his fine weapon; but all the animals began to shout as if with one voice, saying “Shame! ” for showing such discourtesy to a guest, and especially to the guest by whose kindly offices the assembly had been summoned together; so U Kui was driven to yield up his silver sword.

Illustrations: Agniv Das, Class 7, Heritage Academy High School, Howrah

As soon as U Pyrthat got possession of the sword he began to wield it with such rapidity and force that it flashed like leaping flame, till all eyes were dazzled almost to blindness, and at the same time he started to beat on his big drum with such violence that the earth shook and trembled and the animals fled in terror to hide in the jungle.

Illustrations: Agniv Das, Class 7, Heritage Academy High School, Howrah

During the confusion U Pyrthat leaped to the sky, taking the lynx’s silver sword with him, and he is frequently seen brandishing it wildly there and beating loudly on his drum. In many countries people call these manifestations “thunder” and “lightning, ” but the Ancient Khasis who were present at the festival knew them to be the stolen sword of the lynx.

Illustrations: Agniv Das, Class 7, Heritage Academy High School, Howrah

U Kui was very disconsolate, and has never grown reconciled to his loss. It is said of him that he has never wandered far from home since then, in order to live near a mound he is trying to raise, which he hopes will one day reach the sky. He hopes to climb to the top of it, to overtake the giant U Pyrthat, and to seize once more his silver sword.

Agniv Das of Class 7 at Heritage Academy High school at Howrah, West Bengal is a budding artist. He loves to paint, sculpt and is attracted to all forms of visual Art.
He took up online painting classes conducted by Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Cultural Centre to hone his talent.

The Leech (A Khasi Folk-tale)

Once there lived a young cowherd, in the rolling lush green hills of the Khasis. As in olden days, and even in today’s village life, every member of a family are allotted certain duties to perform on a daily basis2. U Bahep (a nickname given to the cowherd by his family and known to everyone in the village) was a very lazy young man. Every day by sunrise, there would be hustle and bustle in the village, as most of the people would be up and about doing their daily chores. All, except for Bahep; who even after being roused several times by the shrill voices of his mother and sisters; though awake, would still laze in bed. He was always the last person to get out of bed, and also the last one to start his daily chores and this was known to everyone in the village.
It would almost be noon, by the time he took his cattle out to graze in the open pastures. Upon reaching, he would let his cattle loose and climb onto a nearby tree branch to have a bird’s eye view of his cattle grazing. On more than one occasion, he would have to climb down the tree, to look for a cow that had strayed, and he knew he would be held accountable for any missing cow, which bothered him, as he intended to relax and nap on a tree branch without any disturbance.
He pondered over the same, and came up with a solution that if one did not see a thing happen, then one cannot be held responsible for such incidents. Therefore, to maintain a clear conscience, he devised a way to remove his eyeballs from his eye sockets, which he then wrapped in a leaf, and tied with a length of vine and hung them on a nearby branch. This became a daily habit of his, and at dusk, satisfied with his nap would reach for his eyeballs and put them back in his eye sockets. He would then round up his cattle, and drive them back to their shed. One many occasions, when one or more of the cattle would be missing, and he would be scolded by his father, Bahep would delegate the task of looking for the lost cow(s) to his younger brothers and cousins by bullying and threatening them.
One afternoon, ‘U Khlieng’ a kite, perched upon the tree Bahep was napping on, looking for insects to feed on, and spotted the eyeballs in the leaf hanging by the vines on one of the branches. Thinking it was some sort insect; the kite picked them up and flew away. When the dusk set in, U Bahep started to grope in the dark for the vines in which he had strung his eyeballs in, but alas!! it was all in vain. Bahep, frantic, fell off the tree on the ground below, and desperately kept on groping around in the hope of finding his missing eyeballs. Days, nights, weeks and months passed, and his search continued amongst the pastures and the trees he used to frequent. In this search he strayed and was lost in the middle of nowhere. As time passed, he shrunk in size little by little, as he had little or no food to sustain him, and this took a heavy toll on his entire being, which to adapt, evolved and metamorphosised into a leech without eyes and only a mouth, which he used, to attach himself to the cows to feed on their blood when they grazed in the pastures.
Moral of the story: Don’t be lazy! The cowherd was a strong, healthy and able bodied young man, but due to his laziness he shunned all his responsibilities and was completely careless. His irresponsible and irrational behavior reduced his whole being from a full-fledged human who once herded cows out to graze on the green pastures, to being a leech, which clings to the grasses and latches onto the same cows to feed himself. According to Khasi Folklore this is how a leech, one of Nature’s Creations, came into being.

God’s Will or Free Will?

Swami Vivekananda explained the story of Elephant-God and Mahout-God for seven days.
The question is, why the elephant is God?
There is God inside the elephant so the elephant is God. There is God inside a fish too. Which means there is God inside the good, as well as inside the bad.
In the story, the teacher told the disciple, everything is God. When the mad elephant was advancing, the disciple did not leave as he had strong faith in the words of his teacher, that the elephant is also God. The mahout was shouting, ‘Move away! Move away!’. But the disciple did not move.
The elephant threw him away. But somehow he survived… When he was asked ‘Why didn’t you move?’ he said, ‘Why? The teacher had said that everything is God.’ The teacher said, ‘My child, why didn’t you listen to Mahout-God?’
God resides in everyone as the pure mind. He is inside everyone as the pure intellect. I am an instrument, he is the mechanic. I’m merely a house, He is the homemaker. He is the Mahout-God.

Ka Mon u Blei ne Ka Mon Laitluid?

U Swami Vivekananda u la batai shaphang u Blei Hati bad shaphang u Blei Mahut (U Nongñiah Hati) ha ki hynñiew sngi. Ka jingkylli kaba mih ka long, balei la mane Blei ïa u Hati?
Don u Blei hapoh jong u Hati kumta u Hati u dei u Blei bad u Blei u don hapoh jong ka Dohkha ruh kumjuh, kata ka mut ba u Blei u don ha ki ba bha bad kumjuh ha ki ba sniew ruh.
Ha kane ka jingiathuh khana, u Rangbah Niam u la ong ïa la u synran ba kiei-kiei baroh ki dei ki Blei. Ha kawei ka por shikynhun ki Hati lamwir ki la wan, baroh ki synran haba ki la ïohi ïa kane ki la phet hynrei tang uwei napdeng jong ki um shym la khih na ka jaka ba u don namar ba u don ka jingngeit baskhem ïa ki kyntien kiba u Rangbah Niam u kren, ba ngi dei ban pyndem ha u Blei u ba don hapoh jong uno-uno ne kiei-kiei baroh. Wat haba u Mahut u la hylla, “Phet shajngai! Phet shajngai!” hynrei une u synran um shym la patiaw satia.
Kumta, uwei napdeng kita ki Hati u la bret ïa une u synran sharud, hynrei donbok ba um shym la iap. Ki synran ki la wan biang hadien ba u Hati u la phet ki la ïalam ïa u sha u Rangbah Niam, u Rangbah Niam u la kylli ïa u, balei ba um shym la phet na kata ka jaka? U synran u la jubab, “Kynrad, dei maphi hi ba ong ba u Blei u don hapoh jong uno-uno bad kiei-kiei baroh, nga la bud beit ïa ki kyntien jong phi”. U Rangbah Niam u la ong, “Khun jong nga, balei pat phim sngap ïa u Blei Mahut?”.
U Blei u dei trai bad u dei hok ruh ïa uno-uno uba don ka jingmut jingpyrkhat kaba khuid ba suda. U don hapoh jong baroh kiba don ïa ka bor sngewthuh kaba shida. Nga dei tang ka tiar, u dei u Nongshna tiar. Nga dei tang ka ïing, u dei u Nongsumar ïing. Une u dei u Blei Mahut.

The Goddesses Ka Ngot and Ka Iam

Illustrations: Henpilien
Ka Iam and Ka Ngot, the twin daughters of the god of Shillong, were two very beautiful beings; they were lively and frolicsome, and were indulged and given much freedom by the family. Like all twins they were never happy if long separated. One day the two climbed to the top of the Shillong mountain to survey the country. In the distance they saw the woody plains of Sylhet, and they playfully challenged one another to run a race to see who would reach the plains first.
Ka Ngot was more retiring and timid than her sister, and was half afraid to begin the race; Ka Iam, on the other hand, was venturesome and fearless, and had been called Ka Iam because of her noisy and turbulent disposition. Before the race she spoke very confidently of her own victory, and teased her sister on account of her timidity.
After a little preparation for the journey the twins transformed themselves into two rivers and started to run their race. Ka Ngot, searching for smooth and easy places, meandered slowly, taking long circuits, and came in time to Sylhet; but not finding her sister there, she [53]went forward to Chhatak, and on slowly towards Dewara. Seeing no sign yet of her sister, she became very anxious and turned back to seek her; and, in turning, she took a long curve which looked in the brilliant sunshine like a curved silver chain, and the Khasis living on the hill-tops, when they saw it, exclaimed with wonder: “Rupatylli, Rupatylli!” (A silver necklace, a silver necklace!) and to this day that part of the river is known as “Rupatylli.”

Ka Iam, full of vigour and ambition, did not linger to look for easy passages, but with a noisy rush she plunged straight in the direction of Shella, the shortest cut she could find. She soon found, however, that the road she had chosen was far more difficult to travel than she had anticipated. Large rocks impeded her path at many points, and she was obliged to spend much time in boring her way through; but she pitted her young strength against all obstacles, and in time she reached Shella and came in view of the plains, where, to her chagrin, she saw that her sister had reached the goal before her, and was coming back leisurely to meet her. It was a great humiliation, for she had boasted of her victory before the race began, but, hoping to conceal her defeat from the world, she divided herself into five streams, and in that way entered the plains, and joined her sister. The rivers are called after the two goddesses to this day, and are known as “Ka Um Ngot” and “Ka Um Iam” (the river Ngot and the river Iam).

Ever since Ka Ngot won the great race she has been recognised as the greater of the two twins, and more reverence has been paid to her as a goddess. Even in the present day there are many Khasis and Syntengs who will not venture to cross the “Um Ngot” without first sacrificing to the goddess; and when, on their journeys, they happen to catch a glimpse of its waters, they salute and give a greeting of “Khublei” to the goddess Ka Ngot who won the great race.

Dougel Henpilen is an established cartoonist of Shillong who hails from Imphal, Manipur. He dud his schooling from Delhi and later passed from Jamia Milia Islamic university of Lucknow. His cartoons were featured in the very first issue of Kajingshai -the Light—under Larger Than Life Section