Athax KHOVEL EITE - HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE FOR YOUR LAND?
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HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE FOR YOUR LAND? PDF Print E-mail
By KAITHANG    Tuesday, 03 June 2008

This piece is meant to start a dialogue on a topic of vital social concern, and not an article in the usual sense. Interested readers may also contribute their  ideas to build up a movement - Kaithang

It was much earlier than my usual hour to rise in the morning. Tried as I could, I could no longer continue the shuteye. The noise, or rather the noises, coming from the trees and the grounds outside our second floor window sounded shrill and cacophonic. The birds of different colours and sizes were the cause of my waking up much earlier than usual.

I went out and could see that a good number, in fact larger than usual, had descended in the park behind our block. We could see the common sparrows, the mynah, the doves, the pigeons, plus a few birds I am not much familiar with. And on the ground, I could also see a few peacocks and the pea-hens walking gracefully. And of course, the squirrels with their black and white streaks running along their back were making the best of the seeds scattered as bird feed by kind-hearted morning walkers. And I realise with a pang of pain in my heart that this was perhaps the closest I have witnessed birds, the best possible varied sounds of birds, I have heard for as many years as I can remember, including the times I travelled through the long stretches of lonely forested jungle roads of Zogam and Zoram.

Where have all the birds gone from the lands of the Zo people? I needn’t try to answer my own questions. You may have known all along though the answer scares everyone. For, we have in our cruelty, ignorance and insatiable yearning for jungle meat, managed to kill or drive away all the animals. As a result, as one travels along the jungle roads and paths through what is left of our forest, one is surrounded by a silence that is both scary and eerie.

Today, it is the animals that fled our land, tomorrow it could be our turn.

The Zo people, despite their professed claim of oneness with nature lived with a misplaced notion of chivalry that accords honour to people who traps, catches, or shoots the most number of animals. Thus, a gun or the local catapult was meant to shoot and kill as many number of animals or birds as possible. Unfortunately, this ideal is inherited by even small children who will go around shooting at any moving animal or bird –especially the latter. Even the smallest bird, barely bigger than the humming bird, is not spared! Hence, the eerie stillness of our habitat.

Manipur is full of patriots. You find both the valley and hill variants. They strut around with their lethal weapons scaring all living beings. But my preferred brand of patriot is one who loves the land and its inhabitants. This brand of patriot loves  the animals-both the winged and the wingless, the fish in the waters (and wouldn’t commit massacre by use of some toxic herb or bomb to fish), the water and the streams, the stones and pebbles, the plants and trees. This brand would never poison the air nor the water. But the patriot will respect the very soil he walks on. I am sure such a patriot will not fell the trees needlessly nor sell acres of forest trees.

Have we, the Zo community, become so complacent or heartless that nothing moves us any more? Or, has our soul become so unfeeling that we no longer care for our environment which we abandon for the lure of money and money alone? It is pertinent to quote Sir Walter Scott, the poet, in the following verses: “Breathes there the man with a soul so dead, who never to himself has said, ‘This is my land, my native land’”? It’s about time we got back to the basics.

We have to begin, teaching love of nature and environment to our children at home, in schools and Sunday Schools. It’s essential for our survival that the flora and fauna around us are protected not by gun wielding forest officials, but by the community who will see that our forests are not razed to the ground by unscrupulous fly-by-night operators. Nor the animals slaughtered merely to satiate someone’s appetite or misplaced chivalry. 

I dare to dream of the day when the deep forest and the birds and beasts will attract tourists, when our people-the owners of the land- will run and operate tourism-related ventures. Our deep gorges and the sharp rise of mountainsides will challenge the adventurous to perform rock climbing or jungle tracking. Then the clear streams and deep bluish green river will provide refreshing cool water to spray on the faces. Let us save the land for such a future.  And towards that dream: Let the true patriots stand up and be counted






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