Sunday, October 05, 2008

5 Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me (and Some Of Which Backfired)

With Mum and older sis

1. Bur keh thei a thil sa thun dawnin a bur tih lum phawt tur (Preheat a glass jar before pouring something hot into it). This came about one evening when I'd been heating pork fats and pouring the liquid into a glass jar which began to crack, spilling away the precious fat. Mum then gave me this piece of advice which I've never forgotten. She was like that, full of common sense and practical wisdom. I don't think she knew everything but in crunch situations, somehow she always had the knack of coming up with a practical solution to the problem.

2. Rizai sin lam zawng bik neih loh tur (Don't use just one side of a quilt or blanket, as the case might be) This one came when I once complained I needed a new quilt because the edge of one side was badly torn and dirty. She got me to bring it to her and on inspecting it, tut tutted disapprovingly. "Do you always use it just this side up?" she asked. "Yes Mum." "Well, you shouldn't do that. Use both sides, otherwise you'll quickly wear out the one side you use." Right, this one taught me to be adaptable and has stood me in good stead in several other things in life.

3. Mipa hnathawk bulah nula an thu mai mai ngai lo (Young ladies shouldn't sit around doing nothing beside working men) In an all-female family of four sisters and a widowed mother, we often needed male help around the house and usually took on hired hands. Sometimes they would be guys we knew well - neighbourhood guys who'd come over after dinner and watch TV or just drop in for some timepass. We liked those days when they'd be working on some very hard manual work and we'd hang around talking to them. That's when Mum would drop her admonitory stinker. The catch was we never did quite understand what exactly she meant. Don't distract working men or if you want to talk to working men, give them a hand. We assumed she meant the first and would quickly go looking for something productive to do elsewhere.

4. Mi mawl biak loh tur. An hminga koh zel tur (Address people by their names. It's rude just talking to people blankly) This was something Mum drilled into us right from the time we were little kids. She insisted it was impolite and rude asking people questions or just blurting out things point blank. Instead we were to always say, "Pu Biak, khawnge i kal dawn?" or "Ni Tlan, thingpui i duh em?" Mum drummed this into us so thoroughly that much later in life, there were often times when I'd meet acquaintances whose names I couldn't remember and end up passing by without a word or avoiding eye contact altogether. I've now learnt to let go of Mum's lesson in certain situations and acknowledge people with a word or a nod or a smile without actually remembering their names.

5. Aia upa zah tur (Respect your elders) Again a lesson I learned so well I sometimes have trouble with the flip side of it - respecting my juniors. Sigh, how terribly complicated life is.


  1. 1. Never knew about this preheating bit. Saum i siam ni mo? Saum te glass jar ah an siam ngai emi, nge saum bur an hmang toh ngailo zok?

    2. My quilt is rectangular which leaves me with only two sides to use, and I never know which side I'm using bcos I'm not exactly the perfect morning-quilt-folder so I think I'm quire safe here.

    3. Quite the opposite, sometimes I'd think I'm doing all the work while the men are just sitting around doing nothing.

    4. This is something I need to work on. I take quite some time to be familiar with people and then yet some more time to call them by their names. But it sure feels good when someone calls you by your name instead of just a Hi or Hello but again I am afflicted by this terrible disease of not being able to remember people and their names...aargh!!!

    5. Hei hi chu thupek tiam nei hmasa ber dawttu vel ni teh se. Han upat deuh hi chuan upa te hlut zia te hi kan hre uar uar.

  2. Not saum, ambs, vawksa hlap ka er mole. Chuan a hriak ka thun a burah khan. Vawk hriat in ei ve ngai lo mi?
    About the quilt, the one I was using then had a floral pattern so I'd use the pretty side up every night :)
    Don't tell me about being unable to remember names. When you've been teaching kids for years it's tough keeping track of all the names and faces :(

  3. Hman lai nuho kha chuan home tips/ health tips eng eng emaw an hre khawp mai. Kan sama chewing gum kan tihkai te ka nu-in tel (mustard oil)-in min tihfaisak thin a. Kan mit a nat chuan thingpui sen (a fe chiahna)-ah puan fai a chiah a, min dehsak thin, kan lu a nat chuan tel/oil min thihsak thin bawk.

    Lesson No. 2 hian thil pakhat mi ngaihtuah chhuahtir. Shillong-a lehkha kan zir laiin kan thianpa (Mamawia) chuan a rizai kawr a su peih lo thei lutuk a. A suk fai sa hi a letling zawngin a sin phawt a, a balh deuhah a a dik zawngin a sin leh a, "Kum khatah vawi tam suk a ngai lo", a ti thin.

  4. Wise mum. Don't know whether i ever taught my daughter much tips or whether she ever kept the few i have.

  5. #4 na hi ka nu pawh hian a sawi uar khawp mai, Mizo ah hi chuan ka ti thei maiin ka hria a, mak tak maiin vai hming hi ka kawm chian te leh ka nitin interact pui te an nih loh chuan ka theihnghilh renggg mai a hreawm khawp mai. Nimin mall ah vainu pakhat hman deuh a ka hmelhriat nen kan in hmu a, a pasal leh a fate 2 min introduce nghal a ka hmingin, kei ka thiante hnenah khan kan introduce ve dawn kha a hming kha ka hre ta tlat lo mai a, "Introduce yourselves" tih ang type in ka thle liam ta vel maiin ka hria. A nalh loin a polite loh thlak lutuk a, mi in ka hming a min koh a lawm ber ber hi ka ni leh sia, inzir hi ka ngai bonra lutuk.

  6. Really liked your mom's lessons, specially number 5! Respect. Hmmmm. It seems to me that is something that is sorely missing in our society these days.

    Recent I read a book by Inazo Nitobe and some of the attributes of the old world that he mentioned and that we can all at least think about are:

    Honour and

    We seem to have mostly lost all of them. Reminds me of the old self evident proposition, "What good would it do a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul."

  7. samuapa, Mamawia i rawn sawi takah chuan vawikhat ka u leh Dawngi ten naktukah kan lo leng anga thingpui min lo lum don nia an lo tia. An leng leh ta si lo kha Manghaki emawni a lo chhuahchhal a, "Kan lo leng anga thingpui kan rawn in ang an ti sia, nilengin kawngkaw bulah ketli khai in ka ding" a lo ti. Lolzzzz

    mesjay, my mum was one amazing woman. I've often wanted to come up with a really really good write-up on her (and Dad too), celebrating the person she was, but I still haven't quite got around to it. And though you don't know it, I'm positive your daughter has learned a lot of things from you.

  8. Jerusha, i nu in a lo ti ve thin maw? Nia lom, hnamdang hming hi hriat fuh a har duh e. Hming common lo deuh an neih phei hi chuan. Chuan kchu introductions pek kual vel hi ka zei lo tawp. Ka lo theihnghilh rum zel.

    Loch, yes indeed, old world values are getting to be pretty rare. Blame that partly on parents who don't instill them into their kids. To add to your, or Nitobe's list, I think integrity is really really important too.

  9. My mum tried teaching me a lot of lessons too, but I believed in learning them the hard way.
    Am betting I have more burnt fingers than you :)

  10. Quite possible that, porcheblues. But don't we all think that we know better than Mum till we reach a certain age or sth? Once we hit that point though, it's "gosh Mum was such a wise woman" all the way. Thanks for dropping in :)

  11. A post a thui thui nen a ziaktu in a thiam bawk a ngainawm ti takin ka chhiar chuak dap e. Upa te thu hi a fing duh hle. Science lam atanga chhut pawhin dik deuh deuh a awm, tuna mi ah te ngei pawh hian. Eg "Laina hnai nupui/pasal neih loh tur" tih te kha Genetics point of view ah chuan lo dik ngang mai a.
    Mi mawl biak kha, hmanah mi 1 hian min hau hrep tawh, a hming ka hre si lova, "ka pu" ti a ka koh kha a hrelo nen.. kan chhungte a lo ni a.

  12. hehe vana an bauh nek che nimo? Nia tiraw, tiang old Mizo saws and sayings hi belhchian a lo dawl thin ngawt mai. Sial rangin sial rang a hring tih te, se bo hnu a se kawng khar tih te....

  13. Bur keh thei a saum thun dawnin tih lum phawt tur ti in ka lo chhiar sual pek a mak ka ti ltk.. hahaha

    Umm.. that was a great list.. and a good advice.. On reading this, U are my mom who fed me with those advices. :P

  14. Hahaha mnowluck, if you were my son I'd spank you for your careless reading of my post

  15. Your mom sounds like a smart lady. I can't remember names, or even when I do, I end up blurting out the wrong name somehow :p

  16. Va tha reuh ve chhinchhiah ang. Ke uih tan chuan rizai sin bik lam neih erawh chu a fuh mai thei :P. mahse ka ke a uih ngailo kei chu :)

  17. Hehe duls, ke lama om kha lu lamah ka hmang ten thin deuh mole. Ke hi ka ten tlat a chuvang nia sin lam zawng ka neih thin. Mahse tunah chuan ka nu thu ka awih chho ta zel chu nia :)

    diary, I do that sometimes too. Which is really bad because there can't be anything as offending as being called by someone else's name!

  18. hehe, great list. The hehe is for Dula's comment. Trust him to come up with the absurd side of things! However, that is a piece of wisdom my mom never taught me - the part about changing the side of the quilt. I tend to fold up my quilts in the morning (now that is what my mom insists upon) so that we don't inadvertently lie on the bed and cause it to lose its springiness (to quote mom" "a bek duh"). Talking to people without addressing them by name: that is a lesson well learnt by me. I hate it when people do it to me too.

  19. The Kite Runner hi enge an?? An fak riau. Margaret Atwood poh hi ka chhiar ang ka ti thin a, how's she?
    PS-I hate this word verification thing. If you dont get it right it gets tougher and tougher.

  20. love your bookshelf thing. but it seems its not available to wordpress bloggers :( i've been doing quite a lot of reading lately and was hoping to show off some of the books on my own shelf, among them hosseini's 'a thousand splendid suns' - almost as good as 'the kite runner'. am presently in paul theroux's africa - 'dark star safari - overland from cairo to capetown'. the first theroux i've read and can't help thinking that he seems as good, if not better and more readable, than naipaul, his onetime mentor and friend. or maybe its just that i love travelogues.

  21. ambs, don't even ask how's The Kite Runner, just read it. It'll blow you away, trust me, it's that good. I'll do away with the word verif thing. Kpoh ka ning thei ltk.

    plats, I didn't think Spendid Suns was as good as Kite Runner. Found it quite morbidly depressing. But if you liked it, you'll also like The Pakistani Bride by Bapsi Sidhwa. Completely absorbing. Haven't read any Theroux, I'm afraid.

    Love my Shelfari thingy too but I don't know why it displays only one book on some shelves and two on some. Anybody know why?

  22. go to your shelfari, shelf size kha hrang2 thlan tur a awm kha, small,.medium, large, try changing it. It might work, I guess.

  23. ava tha hlom ve..i thu post hi a va tangkai dawn em chhuan lo awm zel turte tan pawh

  24. azassk, i chhuan lo la awm tur te hnena lo pe chhawng zel turin ka hnutchhiah a che - a free in :)

    ambs, doesn't work :( Pawi lo mai...ti hian lo om vel mai mai teh se.

  25. Dear u J, I just read your comments at u Cherrie's blog and I want to convey my utmost condolences to you too. This is like a double whammy for me to learn about two sad news that befell my two friends. May your cousin's soul rest in peace and strength is given to his wife and kids.

  26. 1. Bur keh thei a thil sa thun dawnin a bur tih lum phawt tur tih hi kan ti ngai lo re re, a keh thei lo ah kan dah mai thin. Hriat kar tur nih hi.

    2. Rizai sin zawng neih loh pawh hi ka lo hre ngai lo a.

    A dang hi chu ka hre zing khawp mai.

  27. Thank you, Kim, I appreciate that.

    Joseph my son, ka nu thufing robawm zz hi haichhuak thei vek ila chuan tha tur ania. Hriatrengna hi a chhe ve deuh toh hi a poi ani..