Misreading of Soso Tham’s verses!


I was reading Bah Toki Blah’s article in your esteemed paper (ST  Sep 27, 2016) titled “ Hostage To Traditions”, and a train of thought occurred to me, not directly related to the article, which I have jotted down as follows:

Everyone who wishes or thinks he/ she is  speaking  for the “jaitbynriew” would, ad-infinetum quote our poet –laureate, late U SosoTham’s lines from one of his compositions  — where he lamented that locals would become ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ for someone else. I have always felt bemused by the quotes. The venerable U Soso Tham must have penned these lines in the forties, at the height of his creative work. It was a time when everyone in the city of Shillong was using firewood for all cooking purposes. Now, non-Khasis were not expected to go to the forest to fetch wood. It is the locals who fetch the wood and sell it to non- locals. So in a sense, they were hewers of wood.

Coming to fetching water, in those days, most of the clerical and officer cadres in government offices were non- locals, with  very few locals  amongst them. On the other hand, most of the peons were locals, and they were the ones who have to fetch water/ tea etc for the “babus”. The tea sellers were also locals. So, there too, they were drawers of water. Perhaps the poet- laureate was warning in a poetic way, that the locals should not remain complacent and be satisfied with these menial jobs, but to have ambitions to become educated and  rise socially and professionally.

Compared to those days of yore, I think we would agree that today, it is the locals who dominate the “babu” scene in all govt. offices, though  most grade IV staff are also locals , and they still do those menial jobs for their bosses, mostly their own flesh and blood. But their children would not end up likewise if their parents educate them properly and they don’t drop out of school. The earlier generation has done that to their children. So there is no fear there. Perhaps we still lack people in the upper echelons of bureaucracy, and our youth should concentrate there instead of forever lamenting.

I would therefore venture out to say that U SosoTham’s fear  for the “jaitbynriew” becoming simply menial workers for others  has now passed, except perhaps at the political level?!!

A comment also on Bah Toki’s observation that Iewduh is a women’s market.  I would say it used to be – a local women’s market, hats off to our plucky womenfolk. However, a casual walk down any lane in Iewduh today, be it the vegetable stalls, the potato-onions shops, the egg sellers, the miscellaneous sellers, the book/stationery sellers, and now (sacrilege) even the tea sellers, how many shops can you count that are still with the women and the locals? It is only in the fish market, dry fish and chicken stalls that the invasion has consciously been halted. Anyone has a solution? KHADC? Syiem? Myntris? Is anyone listening? Is there any hope of Iewduh being restored to its former glory? Personally I don’t think so. It’s a lost cause. Money, not the cause, nor hard work matters.

Yours etc.,

R  Wallang,

Via  email 

A unique inaugural function!


The inauguration of Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies, an initiative of Department of Philosophy at Lady Keane College (LKC) on Tuesday by Prof Mrinal Miri has several takeaways apart from the main ideals with which this centre is established. At the inaugural session, Prof. Miri, his wife Sujata, a monk from the Santhigiri Ashram, New Delhi and the principal of LKC was present on the dais. Prof. Miri was asked to speak on the occasion and at the outset he greeted the monk, the principal and said “the other professor” when it came to his own wife, evoking peals of laughter among the audience. All expected the monk to deliver a lecture but he wasn’t given a chance and had to leave the stage after both the Miris spoke. All in the audience wondered why the monk was actually called for. Another special invitee was Prof. GK Sasidharan, former VC, Calicut University, Kerala who was reluctant to accept the felicitation shawl from the college vice – principal because it was not less than an insult for not accommodating him at the inaugural session given the reputed national level scientist he is and one who is regarded by universities and institutions world over. Nonetheless, the good part of it is that there was no conflict due to the slipshod handling of protocol as far as dignitaries were concerned and peace prevailed unconditionally. Or else the first case of conflict would have emerged from this very inauguration for this centre to deal with.

Yours etc.,

PK Dwivedi,


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