Sunday, May 17, 2015

‘Tirap Simanta’ by Bhupen Hazarika

For a few days now, I am obsessing over this song, ‘Tirap Simanta’ by Bhupen Hazarika. While Assam continues to have a complicated relationship with Arunachal Pradesh, once a part of its own, this song by Bhupen Hazarika, written in 1970s (I am guessing) offers an example how culture can bridge the gap that geography divides and politics isolates. This song is a tribute to the local inhabitants of the Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, the Noctes and Wanghus.

The following is a freewheeling translation of the song, with the use of local, indigenous words of the local communities intact, since the strength of the song lies in the use of those words, which have no easy translation. The song, composed by Hazarika, is a heady mix of Asomiya and the local words. I wanted to see what happens when we convert the Assamese into English and keep the local words as they are…

The border of Tirap, the Tirap border
Where there is no end to its beauty
Nocte, Wangchu, Tangsha, Ukli, I have
Witnessed the horizon of their sylvan minds

Look, there is the teen of Tirap, Wangchu
On this fist is the sharp javelin paklu
On his neck is the tilik moni, on his head the kasan
Wearing a small fanat dances showan
Moving their hips covered with short lishas
The young women move with what rhythm
Behind the clouds that embrace the terrible
Hills in a kiss, there appears the sun dimmed

The border of Tirap

Faraway, faraway, I notice the Khumsa valley
Look, there is the muscular Nocte youth
Wearing the samsong shirt
On his head is the khapak of cane and on
His waist a colourful khatori
He is busy in the salt mine

A valley of Tirap is Changlang
Where resides the simple folks Lung Chang
Look, there on the heart of the Tirap River
A hanging bridge made of bamboo
And a Tangcha farmer passes by

Look, they are descending in groups
Carrying the deer on their backs, they are descending
Asked, Kakai, where do you go?
Said, I go to the Margherita haat
Otherwise, all our efforts will be a waste

From the days of Ahom Swargadeo, carrying the salt
Descended the Nocte
Even in the old days, Sri Sri Ram Aata had
Preached before the Nocte king…

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