“He took cautious steps closer to her but she backed away, she rejected her. As he tried again, she jumped to another bark. He tried again and again but she kept flying away no matter how much he followed her around. The trust was shattered. The betrayal ran deep. And they were never to be together for all eternity…”
Written by Ningshimi Chithung
A long time ago in a village up in the hills there lived a woman and a man called Samoy and Yamprou. Samoy was a very smart beautiful woman, with long luscious hair and bright brown eyes. Her beauty was no secret. The people spoke about her beauty and admired her and so did the villages nearby. Yamprou was a handsome young man, lean and strong with a dark and long silky hair that was always tied up in a bun or braids. He definitely had all the ladies charmed. He was a hardworking man as he was the sole breadwinner for his poor family that he so dearly loved. Samoy and Yamprou were young and in love. Their love was deep and unconditional. They were each other’s home and comfort. They were inseparable and their affection knew no bounds. Soon their relationship reached the villagers ears far and wide, north and south, east and west. The news of their relationship finally reached their parents. The young lovers knew their families would never approve of their relationshp as their status in the community were highly different. Samoy came from a royal family and Yamprou’s family were dirt poor. They both went to their ends to convince their families to accept their relationship and showed their love but alas nothing could deter or change both their angry families. Samoy’s family arranged to marry her off to a royal man of an equal status. They were heart broken and left in despair. They decided they couldn’t imagine living a life without the other and so with no option left they took the heart wrenching decision to end their life.
Soon the bleak day came and they set out before dawn to the far end of the village by the roaring waterfall. They soon reached the cold damp waterfall, the air around them was thick and misty like it reflected their state of mind. They stood hand in hand by the cliff, their bare feet stood stiff and still as ice cold water forcefully streamed past their feet. They looked down at the rocky outcrops as the water angrily crashed down on the rigid rocks. They took a last loving look at each other with teary eyes so full of love, almost angry at how the word continued to live so full of life, as the sun slowly rose over the horizon warming the lush green forest, the birds chirping and singing a song, the squirrels out to seek food, and the water trickling in a calm musical tones nearby, unlike the turmoil and sadness in their soul. They readied themselves and took their long hair and tied it together in a knot to symbolize their eternal bond and to jump together at the same time. As they took a leap, Yamprou suddenly had a change of heart in a fraction of seconds and took out a blade and severed their bond, their hair. As he watched Samoy took the devastating leap all alone and plunged down the forceful cascading waterfall and the world suddenly turned silent.
He set home mindlessly and mind-numbingly with no sense of direction, lost and confused. He failed to understand why he didn’t take the step. Maybe his body yearned life, maybe he was a coward. He continued trying to live his normal day to day life but he found no peace or joy in things he did. he battled with his mind. He then realized he couldn’t live without his love. He couldn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep as the guilt drove him insane until he finally ran to the same waterfall and took his life.
In the afterlife their souls were turned into birds. He flew far and wide in search of his love and finally found her abode. He flew close to her in urgent fast flaps and landed on the tree bark. He took cautious steps closer to her but she backed away, she rejected her. As he tried again, she jumped to another bark. He tried again and again but she kept flying away no matter how much he followed her around. They never perched together at the same tree bark. It was because of their broken bond and not taking the leap at the same time. The trust was shattered. The betrayal ran deep. And they were never to be together for all eternity…
It is a tale as old as time, shared from generation to generation, from mouth to mouth, passed along as a bedtime story or as a tale by the hot bond-fire on a cold winter day. Who knows what is added to the story or lost in translation but one thing you’re sure to hear the old folks say is that you will get to see the two birds deep in the forest by the river banks when you go fishing or swimming. You will see them perched on the rocks and branches but never together as the she-bird will fly away when the he-bird comes close by. They say you can identify the shebird as it has a white hairclip like shape of the sides of its head and a dark black mark on the chest. As for the hebird, it has a long red tail.
The tale doesn’t have a happy ending but this isn’t a fairytale either. But I think we learn a whole lot about love, betrayal, trust, courage, the complexity of the human brain, society and much more in layers if we dissect it. The story will continue to pass on and with each hearing people will take away different lessons from it, after all, that is the root of fables, tales and all these stories. Enriching along as it passes and teaching something to those willing to hear.
Acknowledgement: This folktale was one of the top five submissions of ‘Open Folktale Writing Competition’ organized by Tangkhul Naga Welfare Society, Bengaluru (TNWSB) in its 5th Luira Phanit, 2020