Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chhura's Babysitting - Dr. R. Thangvunga

Once upon a time, there was a simple but honest man Chhura. He was gifted with this rare quality of comic commonsense which places him on a level not below the best of Shakespeare’s fools. He is a veritable treasury of tribal comic tales for the Mizo people.. This is one of those escapades that will not only make your tongue roll in your cheeks, but might render you look foolish for grimacing without pain if you do not, by his method, de-brain yourself.

One day, Chhura was obliged to take turns with his wife baby-sitting while she went to work in the jhum. Till noon, things went smoothly. Then the urchin started whimpering. Like every daddy, Chhura tried several diversions but to no avail. The sobbing became a cry, and no amount of coo-cooing helped to pacify him. Suddenly his stomach rumbled which made him realize that the baby might be hungry. He had seen old crones mashing cooked rice in their mouths and feeding their babies. In no time he had a frothing paste in his mouth which he ladled with his finger to the baby’s crying mouth. But the baby refused to swallow the food, as it most likely smelt different after being mixed with the tobacco in daddy’s mouth, and cried with a new key that spelled frustration. As he lifted the baby’s head for another mouthful, he felt the soft frontal lobe with a shock. “This be it that makes you cry. What a nasty boil it is! Let me pry it open.” He took a sharp knife and cut through the skin of the forehead till the milky gel oozed to the last drop. “All this pus should have made you cry so,” he murmured. The cry stopped immediately. Thinking the baby was asleep, he laid it down on the bed, and waited eagerly for the mother to come home to brag about his strange but heroic adventure.

This explains why his descendants, the public leaders, ever since take care of their subjects by the cry-management method of brain-lullaby.



Dr. R. Thangvunga is a reader in the Mizo department, Mizoram University. He particularly enjoys tongue-in-cheek retellings of the Chhurbura stories.

Chhura or Chhurbura is a legendary figure in Mizo folklore, famous for his absurd antics and escapades.