Joy of Boys: Mrs. Neilevono Vupru, Chummukedima, Nagaland
“Joy of boys”, the words of Sir Judson, my former Principal, hit its mark when one day he asked me, ‘ Neile, how many sons do you have?’ I said, ‘Sir, I have three.’ Then he said, ‘ Bringing up boys!… sometimes they don’t behave properly and are very naughty.’ I have to believe him because he is a veteran in that area as he had already successfully raised four. Back in the mid 2000s, there were just boys and more boys in the neighbourhood with Mrs. Cavendar’s two British boys, Dr. Baruah’s two Assamese boys, my three ever active Angami boys and Mr. Amarson’s four unforgettable, boisterous Chandel boys, the only begotten son of Mr. Babu from the far South and Mr. Neisalie’s Chakhesang boy, who was, most of the time, the ring leader of the pack!!!
Their play time began at the crack of dawn and continued till sun down. Their playgrounds were the steep teak tree plantations in the vicinity. They never needed the water parks. They created their own, climbing up the mountain and releasing the tiny streams down to the bottom. Happiness was all that mattered. Of course they smelt and looked different when they came back home!!
They had inbuilt compasses of the mountains in their brains as they knew every inch of the area by heart. Their war games on the mountains with swords and wooden guns would put the likes of our fighters to shame. Their war cries were cries that were never heard of in the Naga hills. Their snipers target only the bananas, papayas and every conceivable thing up on the trees, but, never the birds or chameleons or flying squirrels that other boys might aim at. That’s not the kind of game these boys played.
They seemed to be of a different breed. One can never be sure where the kitchen tools and other family stuff would surface – pillows plucked from trees, towels discovered up on the mountains and books collected from the gardens were the most natural things, not to talk about countless cars buried in the sand, a lot of single-paired slippers waiting for History and Archaeology Department for excavation in the fishery ponds, which would prove one day, perhaps after many millennia, that some civilisation indeed flourished here.
Moms have learned never to chase the boys when they were in the fishery ponds because the nearer they got to them, the deeper they ran into the mud and came out in birthday-coloured suits. You didn’t dare take the risk. Moms became shock-proof at receiving someone bring home soaked-to-the-bone- boys from fishery ponds , cycle-riding boys from nearby township, soiled-pants boys after eating their tiffin from school, etc.
In spite of everything, like a true Christian, they knew the voices of their masters, which could be read as mommies. The moms have had their vocal cords undergoing intense training over the years that the boys could identify the source of the call even from a distance.
Now, the boys have all gone their different ways. Most of them are college students, a few still in high school. They were naughty as they were supposed to be, but I watched a group of pure, happy, mischievous little boys growing from bundles of joy to terribly awkward adolescence into sweet sixteen and more.
I miss them!!! All parents feel the same about their children’s childhood! Grow and become God- loving and God-fearing men. Bless you, boys! (dedicated to Ruach, Nathan, Simran, Aryaman, Zavi, Rhirulie, Tisovi, Justin, Kaikho, Ngamvar, Sheltong, Cyril and Dieku)
Mrs. Neilevono Vupru, Chummukedima, Nagaland