The City-Villager

A Traditional Naga Hut

Calling anybody a ‘village’ person is often regarded as a slur and the person targeted will likely get the message that he/she is being insulted. By ‘villager’ or what we call ‘bosti-walla’, we mean a person who is uncultured, uncivilized and even barbaric and it is a very strong accusation if taken seriously. Good news is that I have never seen a fight caused by this tag, it’s always brushed off as just a light tease. I would have been a little annoyed had somebody called me a ‘bosti-walla’ 10 years back. In fact, when I was younger, anything that made me uncomfortable annoyed me and I wasn’t such a good sport. I had not realized it until one of my friends from college days asked me why I can’t laugh at myself. He will not remember it but I have always been grateful to him for telling me that. Anyway, nobody dared to call me ‘bosti-walla’.

As I grow older, everyday I’m learning to accept and own myself more. I am a very weird person (I know), I am very protective of my space, I have a terrible temper, I am extremely stubborn, shy, sarcastic, lazy and a useless dreamer. Could it be my stubbornness that makes me feel that I don’t need to change a bit? Human beings are required to persistently try to improve ourselves. Not me. My excuse is that I think I have already developed all the qualities that I was born with and I can’t change anything now. I can only hide them and turn myself into a nervous teenager again and those days, I remember, are not fun.

My discoveries have also led me to believe that I am actually a ‘bosti-walla’, not in the sense that I lack all manners and civility (I’m polished from inside) but that I can’t shake off my rural roots. I was born and raised in Kohima town but our parents never made us forget the ways and norms of the village. Most of those rules were no longer practical by then and some of them got imbedded in all of us I think, my siblings and me. The ways of the ancestors make so much sense and it is sad that in the current age, we have successfully corrupted almost all of those that aren’t yet forgotten. Anyway, there is rarely any day when I don’t weigh my actions and think if I’m adhering to the customs of my ancestors though I end up doing the exact opposite. That’s the first sign of my ‘Bostiness’, which my husband says is enough to prove that I’m total ‘bosti’.

The other signs are all related to food, no surprise because food is my life. Whenever I cut a pumpkin or anything with seeds, I feel compelled to save the seeds for the next season. Who knows, my 11th floor balcony may someday turn into a soil filled piece of land where I can cultivate my crops. I have the same habit when it comes to flowers. I unintentionally end up collecting seeds from my plants and then dispose them off after a good couple of months. I feel guilty every time I have to throw the peels of vegetables or leftovers; the pigs back home would hog on them. I prefer to buy uncut meat so that I can burn the skin, clean it, and then cut it like how it’s done back home. It becomes more hygienic and is tastier if I do this. Lastly, whatever I mentioned in my post “Food for Medicine: The Tribal Way”. Read it.

I am now learning to appreciate the life we had back then, the simplicity, the self-sufficiency, and the good health. For the very reason of survival, we must move ahead from the traditions and the customs that aren’t feasible in the present age but I most ardently hope that we don’t forget them this soon or make a mockery of them by forcefully trying to implement them where they clearly cannot be applied. It is depressing that very soon there will be no people we can call ‘bosti-walla’ because then everybody would be ‘city-people’, perfectly refined and all. As for me, I’m a self-declared ‘bosti-manu’ and proud of it.

Terrace fields in Kohima

Zenei

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