Mamang Dai, poet, novelist and journalist, is one of the exciting new voices in English to emerge from North-East India. She was a correspondent for the Sentinel, The Telegraph and the Hindustan Times. A former member of the Indian Administrative Service, she left it to pursue a career in writing, traveled extensively and has published numerous articles, poems and short stories in various journals. She is the author of Arunachal Pradesh : The Hidden Land which received the State’s first annual Verrier Elwin Award, 2003, Reprint 2009 (Penguin). Her other books include The Legends of Pensem, Mountain Harvest- the Food of Arunachal Pradesh, River Poems and two illustrated books of folklore- The Sky Queen and Once upon a Moon time. Dai currently is the General Secretary, Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society and Member, North East Writers Forum (NEWF). Dai lives in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh.
An Obscure Place
The history of our race begins with the place of stories.
We do not know if the language we speak
belongs to a written past.
Nothing is certain.
There are mountains. Oh! There are mountains.
We climbed every slope. We slept by the river.
But do not speak of victory yet!
An obscure place haunts the hunter.
The prize slips away.
Yesterday the women hid their faces.
They forbade their children to speak.
Yesterday we gave shelter to men
who climbed over our hills
for glory of a homeland, they said,
those who know what knowing is,
And now the sleeping houses,
the men and the villages have turned to stone.
If there is no death the news is silent.
If there is only silence, we should be disturbed
Listen, the tone of a prayer is hushed:
If a stranger passes this way let him look up to the sky.
A smoke cloud chases the ants.
See! They have slain the wild cat
and buried the hornbill in her maternal sleep.
The words of strangers have led us into a mist
deeper than the one we left behind