The Tangkhul literature scene has shifted in the modern day, although not at a great scale but at moderate and growing scale. Local authors are making gradual progress in elevating the Tangkhul literature to the outside communities. Here are nine Tangkhul Naga authors that we should all know about (not listed in particular order).
Jim Wungramyao Kasom
Kasom’s debut book Homecoming and Other Stories is a collection of 19 stories written in the English language. Born and raised in Ukhrul, a hill district in Manipur, Kasom gets his inspiration from his tribal roots. These nineteen stories, published in 2018 (Bibliophile South Asia and Promila & Co) are written with strong attachment to the mountains spanning over one hundred years and more. This book ranges from the beginning of Christianity to the present times; the arrival of the Japanese in a small village during the Second World War and to the advent of new ideas and modern beliefs. Most of the stories in this book are set in Ukhrul.
“I write because I love language and the freedom it gives me to create my own world. I love the whole process of reading and writing. These stories have been written over a span of ten years” says a discerning Kasom.
Jim Wungramyao Kasom comes from the land of Sirarakhong Hathei of Sirarakhong Village of Ukhrul, Manipur. Writer and photographer, Kasom now lives in New Delhi.
Yuimi Vashum’s English language poetry book Love, Lust and Loyalty was widely acclaimed for its take on sexual abuse, relationships and heartbreak. Being a victim and survivor of sexual abuse herself, Vashum pens down this poetry to voice out, to let others know that they are not alone. Love, Lust and Loyalty is far from what a superficial society would call, “conventional”. This collection of poems is powerful and unostentatious. These poems do not hold back nor puts one on shackles. Rather these poems are liberating. Vashum’s poetry addresses sexual abuse, the issue of consent, violence against women, sexism, relationship and love. Love, Lust and Loyalty was first self-published and launched at Valley of Word Lit Fest, Dehradun in 2017. It was later republished in 2018 by Penthrill, Nagaland.
“I want victims (survivors) to know that they are not alone. Begin to say ‘no’. Speak to someone about it. It feels liberating and peaceful when you actually speak out or voice out to someone. Be the beacon”, says a dynamic Vashum.
Writer, Women’s Rights activist and Educator, Yuimi Vashum is from Talui Village of Ukhrul, Manipur. At present she is based in Ukhrul.
Ever heard of living ghosts or met one yet? Or what happens when a spirit falls in love with you? Chansa Makan’s debut book Living Ghosts and Other Uncanny Stories explores the mystic world of the Tangkhul Naga where the thin line between the real and spirit world is traversed. This collection of stories in English is drawn from strange tales he has heard from his mother or told by people he knows. Gripping and witting tales, Living Ghosts and other Uncanny Stories published in 2020 (Bluerose Publishers) is an interesting book of stories told by those witnesses who believe to have encountered real ghost in real life.
Chansa Makan is an Imphal-born, Tangkhul Naga from Ukhrul District of Manipur. At present, he is based in New Delhi and he teaches at the University of Delhi.
Blue is not One of Her Favourite Colors written in the English language by Rinrei Angkang is a collection of poems with a short story. In this debut book, Angkang talks about people and things around her. She weaves the stories of people around her into poetry, giving them life. This book was published in 2019 (Notion Press).
“I want to motivate the youths that we are so much stronger than we think. And I want us, youths to believe that the pain and struggles that we face in life are just ways for us to become indestructible”, says Rinrei Angkang.
A student of English Literature, Angkang is from Khamasom village of Ukhrul District and she is currently based in New Delhi.
Iknguira L. Shimray
Angayung, is a collection of poems written in the Tangkhul Language by Iknguira L. Shimray. Pertaining to the title of her book, Angayung which means roots, Shimray’s collection of Tangkhul poems is about the Tangkhul culture and tradition which embraces the Tangkhul language (which is on the verge of extinction). She pens down the rich culture, customs and traditions of the Tangkhul Naga in poetry form. She also talks about God-human relationship and the fineness of the Tangkhul Language. Her book is a reminder and encouragement to the Tangkhuls, young and old, to preserve and promote the rich Tangkhul culture. Angayung was self-published in 2020.
Shimray earnestly says, “More than our beautiful mountainous landscape, we are blessed with beautiful language, words… The irony, however, is that our roots-culture, custom, tradition and language are sidelined (most of the time) to fit in the bigger stage, and the higher our people climbs, the more the native language gets diminished. This sad truth drives me to write this book in my native dialect, Tangkhul Language so that I may be able to promote the use the Tangkhul Language, as little my contribution may be.”
Iknguira L. Shimray is from Hunphun Village of Ukhrul district. Currently, she is based in Ukhrul as a teacher.
The Sea and I, published in 2019 (Notion Press) is a coming-of-age contemporary English fiction by Chirmi Shimray. The novel is set in the city of dreams, Bombay. It is about conquering self-doubt, overcoming insecurities and emerging victorious in life. It is told from the first-person perspective by the protagonist of the novel, Afi, as she looks back on her life as a college student. Through Afi’s first-hand narration, readers can see the transformation of Afi into a hopeful fierce person from a self-doubting diffident person.
“There are many capable, enthusiastic and upcoming writers from our community. But it is disheartening as there are no or less support nor do we have publishing houses of our own that can do good marketing for the budding authorpreneurs. But I am glad that few of us are thriving despite the odds— be it writers in Tangkhul language or second language”, beams Shimray.
Language Trainer and an Educator, Chirmi Shimray is based in Imphal.
Yun Makan’s fantasy English novel Flawless follows the journey of a young girl in search of faith and truth. The book centres on the protagonist of the book Kardia where she has to find her way to Father who is waiting in Jerusalem. Published in 2014 (Partridge India) Flawless is the beginning of a life-changing adventure. It shows the power of faith and portrays the rewarding nature of perseverance. Makan’s Flawless is the first book of a trilogy, the sequels of which are yet to be published.
“I wanted to write something full of unbelievable adventures and a story that has a female lead. I wanted to write about what it was like to be 16 and discovering the world”, mentions Makan.
“I think it’s a good time now to share stories and be creative; and I believe people have begun to really use their voice. I am excited to see what comes of it all”, added Makan.
Writer and an artist, Yun Makan is based in Imphal. She hails from Koso village of Ukhrul, Manipur.
Soror Zimik’s Okthuishap Rala is a Tangkhul language novel that tells the tragic story of Soyar, the protagonist of the novel. A story that is enveloped in a tragic relationship, Zimik explores the themes of class disparity, hatred towards people living with HIV/AIDS, love, childhood, relationships, alcoholism, discrimination on grounds of social dogmas and upholding values. Published in 2019 (Colorbasket), Okathuishap Rala is the debut book of Soror Zimik.
“As a child I was encouraged by my parents to do daily diary entry. This was how I was motivated to write where; I gradually picked up writing stories. I started sharing short stories on my Facebook timeline from time to time. This was how my book Okthuishap Rala was born. I am grateful to the people who supported me enthusiastically”, expresses Zimik.
Zimik is working on his second book, “Mashun”, which is soon to be released. A post-graduate student of Political Science Soror Zimik is from Kohima, Nagaland and is based there.
An enthusiastic writer, Pamkhuila Shaiza has a number of non-fiction books on colonial and social history accredited to her name. Her works include William Pettigrew: Towards Early Modernity in Manipur, Negotiating Patriarchy: Gender and Ethnic Patterns of Tangkhul-Naga Women through the Ages, Married to the Munition of Colonial Propaganda: A Guide to Manipur (1893-1933), Borders and Beyond: To Be a North-East India.
“I have always wanted to be a writer. Writing makes me happy. I am my own happy and contended self when I sit down to write”, says Shaiza.
Hailing from Hunphun village of Ukhrul, Shaiza is currently working on her latest book, Graphic Historical Anthologies, before Memories Fade: Native Accounts of Japan Rai with Graphic Artist Rammeikhai Luikham. She is also working towards the completion of the construction of a museum in Ukhrul (Bredwell Museum) where Manipur’s History, Culture, Geography, Flora and Fauna are slated to be displayed.
Also read: Ukhrul Times’ Top 10 books of 2020