Sunday, June 18, 2023

Dear Benny - Cherrie Lalnunziri Chhangte

Dear Benny,

In the two decades that I have looked for you
In the crevices of people’s conversations,
The waves of laughter washing over silken attires,
Between the delicate weaves of myth and history,
Even in the curious song-wail-chant of your nation,
You remained elusive.

So I contented myself in the remembering -
Two young girls clutching their bellies
Filled to bursting with laughter
At Laitumkhrah, at Nongthymai,
Where in the windowless, dark space of the tiny room you rented,
You introduced me to strange smells and tastes and people
of a place you called home.

I came to that place, you know,
It felt like revisiting an old, familiar place
In a world where we can no longer hide our smallest mis/deeds,
Nobody I asked knew you.
Like the clean, artistic strokes of your lettering
You left no smudges behind.

Tonight, I have finally found you.
Your elusiveness was not by design – not yours;
I piece together your story:

“Nagaland was not for me,” you said,
All these years it had represented you to me.
You spoke of your greying hair,
The suffocating heat,
Your beautiful children,
Your sister’s appetite,
You told me to be greedy
To live a life you never would.
You briefly showed me your old fire and called him “caveman”
until we giggled like old times.
But he came home, and you abruptly left me
Holding on to a faded picture of two fresh-eyed girls
Laughter ready to bubble over at a moment’s notice,
Curious about the future.

I found you,
And I felt I lost you again.

Dr. Cherrie Lalnunziri Chhangte has made major changes in her life since the last time we posted her works here. She now lives in the US of A with her husband and two lovely daughters. She, however, remains devoted to literature and fortunately for Mizo writing in English, continues to write top-notch poetry and prose.