|by S.D Suman|
How do you express a million feelings that have never been felt before, after a visit to a place? When it was enough just to be. When the place made you so humble that your brain, inside where storms and nuclear bombs went off frequently, went calm as a dewdrop. When nothing else mattered and the thoughts stopped – like in a state of meditation. I could name it ‘love’ but that still wouldn’t do justice to all the feelings.
Mizoram to me was just that. I loved every second in Aizawl. If I was born there, I would never want to get out. Amongst the lovely memories of Mizoram, there is one that stands out: The night view of the city when entering the city from the east road, through the winding mountain road.
The hill drowned in dense squares of lights plays hide and seek with the mountains and as you get nearer, the view, the perspective and the scale changes. You can see the same place in a thousand ways and if you are a ‘light’ lover like me, this is nirvana. That is what god would look like if you could give him any shape. You look up the sky to find a million stars and your eyes automatically follow a trail of stars down towards the lights collected on the hills slopes – million perfect dense squares of lights from the settlements on the hills.
There are lights also on almost every vehicle, car or two-wheeler and after 6.30 pm when it gets dark (since practically, it is an hour or two before the Indian Standard Time) and the streets get deserted, they buzz around at a good speed on the wavy roads creating lines of light. The city can be walked across, because there are lots of shortcut steps and you climb one of these steps (which will take your breath out) and you end up in a different part (with a different name) of the city. To me, the whole city felt like home, like a best friend. The dense building clusters on the slope, from wherever they were visible (since most of the main roads are on the hilltop), are a sight as well – so beautiful, it made me wish I could paint or sketch.
The people there are either polite, friendly or they ignore you but they are never rude. I did not come across anybody fighting, bossing other people around or scolding anyone – not even the kids. I could and would walk around the city forever. Even the bus rides were good.
I had seen most parts of the city. There were few days where we went to rural parts of Mizoram. We also visited Tamdil lake where we went boating. We went to two waterfalls: Vantawng Falls and Khawhpawp Falls. The road journeys to the nearby and far off villages were an experience in itself. Hours of gazing into a million different trees of hundred different species of flora. There were tall stems with furry ends, which I later found, the locals make brooms from. There are huge patches cleared off from the forest along the mountain slopes (Jhum cultivation). The mountains ripple up in the horizon with lots of layers and ruffles to oblivion. And there are grouped up bamboo trees and wild banana trees which bear no fruits. The banana trees made it feel more like home. And there are pigs caged up almost everywhere: in the city, in the villages, on the route to the villages – everywhere. Sometimes even the car garages looked similar – like cages.
Everything seems peaceful and in order. From the people’s Sunday morning walk to church for the Mass to the closing down of the shops by 6.30 pm and the streets going deserted, everything seemed structured with peace and served with love.
The early morning markets keep getting more crowded by the second as the morning brightens. There are vendors selling forest products, pork, colourful clothes, cosmetics and shoes, dried fish and wet looking fish, and shells from the river which move around their basket. There are restaurants, mostly humble, woody but also at the same time trendy with clean toilets beside them. And most of the kitchens were seen from the tables. There aren’t any ‘no admission’ boards behind which food is cooked.
I could go on writing forever but I still couldn’t put all that I felt for the city into words. Maybe it is because it made me calm and high from the sights and sounds. The people, the slopes and the steps, the mountains, even the cleared off patches which made it look like there was something wrong with the mountains, the sky with stars in the night, replaced by trees in the day (since when u looked up, there were bound to be slope/cliff nearby with trees on top and sides), the rare streams and rivers (since we rarely went that low – everything that is, is on the top of the mountains), the air, the markets, the colourful clothes, and the winding roads, everything was an experience.
Although I am usually all for ‘no boundaries and ultimate freedom’, in Aizawl, I wouldn’t change a thing! Not one. It is good that the land rights are strict and non-Mizos can’t own any land there because otherwise along with many others, I would have settled there and maybe, taken its essence out of the place. I would love to visit it again and for that, I hope it doesn’t change. And if it does change, I would only want it to be happier – yes I am still talking about the city.
About the Author:
Suman is an urban planner, feminist, traveler, aspiring writer and the propagator of ‘Sumanity’ – her way of looking at little things in life. She went to Mizoram for a fortnight in the February of 2013 as a study trip for her Masters in Regional Planning. This article is part of a blog post she wrote in 2013.
First published on 22nd October 2017.
Modified and republished on 23rd March 2018