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Op-Ed

In Memoriam

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By EMN Updated: Sep 19, 2013 12:32 am
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Dr Khrielie-u Kire Angami

Easterine Kire

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n a calm September afternoon, my aunt Dr Khrielie-u, drew her last breath and went to be with the Lord she had always reminded us to think upon. Even as her memory of recent events in her life was fast fading away, she would end every meeting with the words, “Pesogei keba-u rukralie luo,” or ‘remember the one who is above.’ My siblings and I called her Anyie, paternal aunt. Born on the 12th January 1918, Anyie told us that she was an only child for a long time. Growing up in Kohima village, her constant companions were a puppy and a piglet. Her love of dogs and animals stemmed from her childhood, and she constantly kept dogs in her town house. Each dog that came into her house got a name, got its own plate and became a member of the family, and was well loved until death claimed it.
Anyie Khrielie-u began her education in the Mission School, Kohima and went on to study further in Shillong . It proved highly providential for the family. While she was doing her studies in Shillong, war broke out in the Naga Hills, and my aunts and uncles travelled to Shillong to seek refuge in her house. After the war, she went on to complete her medical studies in 1952 and became the first Naga lady doctor. After that, she had a long service which began from 1947 until she retired in 1979 as Director, Health Services, for the government of Nagaland.
Anyie has had an illustrious career, and was an inspiration to many doctors in the family who took up medical studies from her example. As an administrator she was efficient and kept the medical directorate on its toes. It was all because she lived her life according to certain principles and she never swerved from those principles.
In 1956, she was baptised into the Seventh day Adventist Church, and she remained an active member throughout her life. Her own life is a testimony to the healthy lifestyle of the Adventist church. The food restrictions she abided by included pork and no pork was ever served in Anyie’s house. She preferred to eat healthy local preparations like galho and unpolished rice, and never suffered from any of the complications of obesity.
Well into old age, she maintained a good appetite, and her hearing and eyesight served her well. Anyie long enjoyed good health that was the envy of people twenty years younger than her. I like to believe that Anyie’s healthy mind stemmed from her healthy body. When we were growing up, it was Anyie that we sought out with all our teenage problems. She served as an unlikely peacemaker between parents and adolescent children.
Publicly she was seen as strict and unswerving. In private, she was the most broad-minded member of the family. She had the capacity to think beyond narrow tribal lines, and come up with highly progressive solutions as early as the seventies. Yet this was no feminist we are talking about. This was my sensible, practical doctor aunt whose approach to life was a mixture of firm faith in God and a good application of common sense. She did not approve of my parents forcing us to eat vegetables. Her advice was to let the children develop their own appreciation for healthy food. Good advice that worked down the years. In small ways that no textbook will bother to eulogise, she affected our lives positively.
In the years when she was more active, she loved to garden. Even though her town house did not have the space for a big garden, she grew squash below the kitchen which provided abundant food for man and beast alike. And indoors, she had a variety of pot plants that strained to climb up the roof and walls, and out of the pots they were restrained in. “It’s her green fingers. Everything that she sows grows so well,” Bazo, her niece and constant companion explained to me. Tomatoes ready to be picked and chilli plants weighed down by fruit were part of the assortment of plants she had sown.
Anyie likewise, sowed into people’s lives. I cannot fully recount all the lives she has touched, and all the people she took into her household and generously provided for. It was a generosity one never heard of unless the receiver spoke of it. Not just financially but in many additional ways, and most of all, by example. I still remember a conversation I overheard thirty years ago. Back then there was a scare of landslides in her locality. A colleague comforted her with the words, “Doctor, a house like yours built with hard-earned money and not one dishonest paisa, will never go down in a landslide. “
Anyie belonged to another generation, and it is a generation that is passing away. Anyie’s contemporaries who have survived her are Apuo Zhavise, Apfii Zhanikhoii Savino, and Azuo Neichiilieii Haralu. What Anyie lived by and what her contemporaries live by are not irrelevant for us.
Those who are still with us are wonderful examples of how we should endeavour to live our lives. Today I pay tribute to Anyie without hyperbole. The life she has lived deserves it. She didn’t live it flamboyantly. That is not her. She lived it as a daily blessing unto others, and we count ourselves richer for having had her in our lives.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 19, 2013 12:32:43 am