Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Magic of Christmas

And so another Christmas has come and gone. When I look back, it seems to me that the best Christmases were when I was a kid. Mum would start cranking up her sewing machine sometime in December and sew us the prettiest Christmassy-est dresses. For all her three daughters she'd repeat the same frilly, frothy, lace-trimmed designs (all this was before my older sister turned 11 and got smart, refusing to wear the same dresses as us and wanting a different look instead). New shoes and socks and sometimes a cardigan would complete the picture and we'd be all set for another magical Christmas. Dad would string up brightly coloured streamers across the ceiling starting from the centre and rippling out to all four sides of the room and we'd sit warming ourselves by the brazier, pigging out on the oranges Mum always made sure to stock up on.

On the night of Christmas Eve, we'd put large empty trays by our beds for Christmas Pa to fill, and next morning we'd excitedly jump out of bed to see what was on our trays, usually an assortment of toys, little fashion accessories, sweets, balloons etc. Again it was my older sister who first found out Christmas Pa wasn't some nice kindly old geezer but your own parents and told us so. I didn't want to believe it and I still vividly recall the huge disappointment I felt the day I was idly talking about it to Mum who was busy working at her sewing machine again, and she admitted that yes, it was true and she even got up and swearing me to secrecy, showed me the stuff she'd got to load onto our trays the next day. I guess it's an indication of the shock to my system that I still remember one item she showed me... a little doll on a swing who swung round and round when you turned the key. Needless to say, that was the last time Christmas Pa paid us a visit.

Happily the tradition continues. And one of the most delightful sights and sounds on Christmas mornings are the little children asking each other 'what did Christmas Pa give you?' and showing off their goodies to everyone they see...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A December Caboodle

December, almost the end of the year already. And Christmas season bigtime. Not the greatest time of year to be broke. I went to an atm to check my balance last week and found I had the princely sum of Rs 9.54. Ouch.


As beautiful as the origin of Christmas is, it's amazing how our largely hedonistic concept of what it ought to be like is so off-tangent with its beginnings. Most people seem to think Christmas is a time to let rip, literally and metaphorically. Little wonder there's so much pressure and tension, and SADs run rampant. Expectations and reality just don't seem to gel at Christmastime when people seem to be more selfish, grasping, and self-indulgent. On the surface, we all seem to open up a lot more, like a friend of mine once remarked in January, "Why's it that everyone goes back into their shells as soon as Christmas is over?" Maybe I'm just being overly cynical but maybe that opening up is just some subconscious maneuver to get a piece of the action.

And then there's my eternal grouse.... Christmas Eve, that ethereal night of songs like O Holy Night and Stille Nacht was probably silent and holy centuries ago; today it's the night of the most raucous noises and sounds equalled only by December the 31st.

Phew, feels good to vent.


Lately I've been working on a new project that suits me to a tee. I was born to a culture and a people credited with being the second most literate group of people in the country which accounts for us having a fairly sizeable heritage of literature. Unfortunately it's mostly all in the vernacular and while it's all rather simplistic and elemental, I had the bright idea of bringing it online in translations, what with cultural studies being what it is today. Part of the inspiration came from a good online friend who appears to be a larger-than-life figure to everyone who knows him in person (take a bow, Pu Epis :)) He got me wondering if I could make some meaningful contribution online and just about the same time I came across this book The Heart of the Matter featuring stories from the North East...

And so was born my Mizo lit in English blog. Had to make do with a blog since I know nothing about making a proper site and anyway right now I'm more interested with its contents and trying to track down people I know who write/wrote creatively in English. Most beat about the bush claiming they haven't written in aeons and all their old stuff is gone with the wind (which I personally don't buy for a second but then I wouldn't want anyone to lay eyes on the atrocious rubbish I wrote once upon a lifetime ago myself either).

Margaret who appears to be about the only active translator around has been just amazing - generously and tirelessly providing me with material and urging me to try my hand at translations too. Which I most certainly promise to do. And then there's Mona. This girl is a living, breathing genius. I tell her she ought to be in academia, giving literary seminars all over the world and instead she tells me she's tired of the "deconstructing King Lear's grey hair" routine. Not to worry though, the crystal ball in my mind tells me we'll have a few print collections of her mindblowing poetry in the forseeable future and kids will soon grapple with her writings in bastions of higher learning :)

The process of putting Mizo stories and poems online has also brought me to a new appreciation of Mizo art. I have this notion that every post has to be accompanied by an appropriate image and the more Mizocentric the better. I've been freely dipping into our foremost artist Tlangrokhuma's online art gallery and wishing more Mizo artists would make their work available online. And not just paintings either but sketches, photographs and other graphic arts. It'd certainly help display their skills and talents, besides giving them a good excuse for getting online.