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Among The Headhunters. Part 3

 part 2

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In the years past, the young boys of a village had to stay in the morung for three years where they learned about life, their responsibilities towards the society and the art of warfare. They were considered warriors only after they graduate from the morung. Although the tradition is not followed in true earnest these days, there is no denying the fact that the morung holds immense importance in a Konyak society. Anybody who breaks the sanctity of the morung or disobeys its bidding is punished and fined. Each and every morung has a huge log drum which is played only by a designated person and on specific occasions.

We have heard so much about a village named Longwa that we decide that we should visit it. Longwa turned out to be the most interesting village in Mon and the six days that we spent were simply not enough. It is 42 kms from Mon Town and a friend assured us that it would take no more than one and a half hour to reach. We were the game, but we certainly did not bargain for the terrible road conditions due to the heavy overnight rain…in fact there was no road. The mud was slippery and deep but the Karizmas performed outstandingly throughout except for that one time when the muddy surface offered no traction whatsoever, and I had a mighty fall. Caked in mud and my pride hurt, I was struggling to lift up the heavily loaded bike when a young fellow waved gaily as he rode past me on a bicycle with not a speck of mud on him and a large sack of rice behind. Talk about rubbing insult to injury.

It was lush green all around. Wild bamboo and banana trees cover the slopes, and there are large alder, teak and mulberry plantations owned by some villagers. Everything looked serene, but it did nothing to calm my aching arm muscles. I had to struggle hard to keep the bike upright as the rear kept sliding and had a mind of its own. After riding for what seemed an eternity, we passed the villages of Tang and Pomching. We stopped some times for tea or to rest and every time we asked how far it was to Longwa, we got the same answer – 20 km. After it had happened for the fourth time, I decided that I would not ask the distance anymore. We finally reached the village after four and a half hours of riding and headed straight for the Angh’s residence.

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I have never seen another thatched house larger than the Angh’s. A two-room apartment would easily fit into one corner of the sitting room! The fire in the sitting room never goes out in an Angh’s house, and as we sat round the fire, excited questions flew at us thick and fast. Monetarily, the Angh is not a rich man but he has vast authority over the society. And if you think that the chief’s house will have decorations and expensive furniture, you are mistaken. The only decorations are animal skulls. The bamboo walls of the sitting room are decorated with skulls of really huge mithuns (bisons), deer, wild boars, buffalos, hornbills and a huge and shiny elephant tusk.

Among the Angh’s closest friends was an old warrior with tattoos on his face and chest and his ear was pierced with huge goat horns. Longwa has no electricity and the glow from the fire lit up the old warrior’s face in a weird and fearsome manner. He is a real character, and you can use a 1GB memory card on him and still want to shoot some more. I wonder if this old warrior ever slept. Every night I saw him smoking opium when I dozed off, and he would be there in the same place smoking opium when I awoke early next morning. He spoke just once in six days, and that was to say proudly that he had collected five heads…and we sure believed him. The other old warriors who gathered in the Angh’s house gave a grand display about how they collected heads in the battles, complete with shrill war cries and gunfire.

part 4

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