Tale of the three brothers
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ccording to Angami folk lore, man, tiger and the spirit were three brothers, the sons of one woman. The man tended his mother carefully, washing her and bathing her, the tiger was always grumbling about the house, snarling at anything and giving everyone trouble.
The man ate his food cooked, the tiger ate his raw, and the spirit just had his smoke-dried. One day, the mother who was tired of family squabbles, or sibling rivalries, made a grass mark and set it up in the jungle, and told the man and the tiger to race for it, saying, “whoever touches it shall go and live in villages, but the other must go and live in the dark jungles.Then the spirit said to the man, “I will shoot the mark over with an arrow when you call out, and then you can say you touched it first.” So when they had run a little way in the jungle, the man called out, “I have touched the mark.” At the same time, the spirit drew his bow and struck the mark with an arrow, so that it trembled, and the tiger coming up while it was still shaking was deceived—he went away, angry into the jungle.
After this, the man sent the cat from the village to say to the tiger, “After all, you are my brother; when you kill a deer, please put a leg on the wall for me.” However, the cat muddled the message and said, “When you kill a deer, put it on the wall for the man.” The tiger, thinking that a whole deer was meant, was angry and hated the man.
All the same, they are brothers, and to this day, if a man kills t tiger, he will say in the village, “The gods have killed a tiger in the jungle,” and not “I have killed it.” But presuming as if he did, all other tigers would say, “This man has killed his brother,” and would go about to devour him.
But the tiger is afraid of man because he (the tiger) cannot carry stones, while he sees man take up stones as great as a basket. Therefore, thinking that man is very strong, he is afraid. The whole matter arose out of not a little cheating, message wrongly conveyed leading to eventual misunderstanding, and/or misperception.
This folk lore in almost identical form is also prevalent among the Semas, Rengmas Lothas and Changs. When an Angami kills a tiger, or a leopard, the Animist priest would proclaim a penna (non-working day) “for the death of an elder brother.” Nagas are now mostly professed Christians of whichever denomination but the folk lore of the various tribes have some significance and are still deeply embedded in our psyche no matter however advanced our education in today’s terms.
This fable also stresses that a message wrongly conveyed, or imprecise, can lead to such consequences with lasting adverse effects. In this context, everyone plus the numerous organisations, overgound or underground—tribal Hohos, NGOs, other civil societies and numerous organisations plus the several—need to be precise in its aims and objectives. And let the public in general know accordingly. Else, confusion will continue to cloud one’s perceptions of all the things (too numerous to cite here) that are happening around us.