Welcome To My World

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  

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Comments on: "Dreaming in Hmar, Writing in English" (4)

  1. I think the world’s getting increasingly unified and fusing into oneness all the time so while you may consider yourself very Hmar compared to your children, what about compared to your father? He probably thinks you’re not Hmar enough! The times we live in and our environments dictate a lot of our attitudes, irrespective of our blood or culture. Which is why you’re probably less of a Hmar man than your dad is…you simply didn’t live in as segregated or pure a Hmar society as he did, and the same goes for your kids. It’s all part of change and development. You win some, you lose some.

    I’m no fan of the zohnahthlak ideology. I know for a fact that it began as part of a political campaign so as far as I’m concerned, it’s just all so much bunkum. Politics bores me stiff. Rather than fuss over inanities, let’s focus on the more important issues of life like integrity, honesty, selflessness, humanitarianism, moral values, manners, respect for your elders etc

  2. J’s reaction to the zohnathlak ‘ideology’ is typical of all Mizos from Mizoram. This typical reaction is the single biggest reason why other tribes from the ‘zohnathlak’ group cannot come together and unite. The biggest stumbling block is the Mizos themselves because they think they will lose the benefits they think they are getting now. When Mizos from Mizoram start getting out from their state and experience real life, then we may have some hope. Until then, we are like this only.

  3. @ KP: It has been proven that there can be no real unity if there is no oneness in the language spoken. Remember the Tower of Babel? Even in India, states are demarcated according to the language spoken.

    Sure, it would be wonderful if all tribes from the zohnathlak group unite. But then, how long do you think that unity will be there if people are speaking in different tongues? And then if the larger Mizo group appeal for one language to be spoken – Duhlian, then the others will of course complain of domination and ethnic cleansing.

    Likewise, North Indians are despised by everybody else because of their attitude towards non-Hindi speakers and how they believe that only those who speak Hindi are true Indians. A tamilian would definitely not let go of hisculture and heritage. And now, everybody else have to learn Hindi, which might make things easy, except that Hindi speakers never take any attempt to learn tamil, kannada, marathi etc.

    Similarly, I speak what people call as “duhlian”. If everybody else who speak “duhlian” also attempt to learn “paihte” or “hmar” etc, then there may be no problem. Except ofcourse, most people do not have the time or patience to do that. Hence eventually, I feel that zohnathlak unity, however strong I support it, is still a loong way ahead.

  4. I know and understand English, Hmar and Mizo equally well but i normally dreamt in Hmar in matters connected to Hmar, in Duhlian in matters of Mizo concern and in English on anything connected to official functioning. I believe we think and dream in a language we are closely associated with notwithstanding our nationality. LK

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