Barkha Dutt, one of India’s best journalists and MD of NDTV once wrote that she speaks Hindi and English, but dreams in English. I basically speak English and Hmar but still dream in Hmar. My children also speak English and Hmar but they dream in English.
As human beings we all need to belong. As we grow up we learn and unconsciously imbibe values from our parents, friends and the society that we grow up in. The values and traits we imbibe as children remain with us for life. We may ultimately live in a society very much different from the one we grew up in, but the ideals and values imbibed as children remain with us. They are imprinted in our subconscious, for life, for better or for worse. This is the reason that we dream in the language that we dream in. Because our dreams reveal our real and true personality. We cannot control our dreams – they come unbidden and show us what we really are deep down inside.
We are defined by the language that we dream in because the language of our dreams is the basis of what or who we are. The new Zohnathlak generation, especially those who have grown up away from home (and there are quite a few now), dream in a language other than their mother-tongue. They may speak Hmar/Mizo or whatever language they use at home, but they now dream in an alien language. Most probably it is English, or maybe even Hindi for those who have grown up in places like Delhi.
Does this mean that our new generation, especially those who now dream in a foreign language, are less Hmar or Mizo or any of the communities that make up the greater Zohnathlak community? If so, what are the implications for our society? What exactly do we mean by being a Hmar or Mizo anyway? Is it solely the ability to speak the language? What exactly do some, especially in Mizoram, mean by classifying people as Mizo-1, Mizo-2 and so on? Is being Hmar or Mizo by blood enough? Considering the times we are now living in, with many of our young generation now living and working away from home, these are relevant questions that, I think, we will have to seriously ask ourselves sooner or later.
That who we are as a person and a human being is shaped by the values and experiences imbibed during our formative childhood years from our parents, friends or society in general, is amply demonstrated by the world that our subconscious minds return to in our dreams. I have had the privilege of living and working in as many as three continents and more than half my life has been spent in societies as different as can be from the world I grew up in. But when I dream, I am mostly always back in the world of my childhood, with old friends many of whom I haven’t met for the past 10/20 years. Old loves and dreams from my youth and childhood remain ever present in my subconscious.
Physically, I may be living as far away as is possible from my society and home, but mentally and in my dreams I have never left home. That is why I have my doubts that my children will ever be Hmars in the same way that I am a Hmar. Because they dream in English, and the world of their dreams is so far removed from my world that I sometimes seriously doubt that I have a place in that world. Though I still think that I somehow still fit into their scheme of things, I know that the reality could be quite the opposite and I may have to brace myself for some shock in the future.
Just some stray thoughts running through my mind as I sit in front of my computer listening to Remkimi Cherput telling me about her ‘perkhuang zaitin thiam’ this Sunday evening.
Tokyo 30 March 2008