It was on the 31st December 2018, the day where the year will close its chapter and the next to be opened, it was a great day for us as a family that we were able to spend the last day of the year in our own Village ‘Nongnah’ (located in the District of South West Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, Northeast India). Being a big family with cousins, nieces, nephews and my own brothers and sisters together we planned, arranged and finally executed! Yes on the 31st December 2018 in the evening at around 4 o’clock, we left the village to the top of ‘U Lum Ïawpaw’(A long hill range where Nongnah Village located) where the beauty lies unending to the eyes to glimpse and where the wind blows with beautiful melodious sounds of different birds quivering in a huge and tall grass. ‘U Lum Ïawpaw’ is normally covered with Brooms, these brooms are non-timber product which grows naturally in the wild, so people of Nongnah mostly depend on it as their main income of livelihood and also not only in this area but it occupies an important place in the rural economy of the State Meghalaya as a whole.
Back to our journey, we definitely enjoyed the trip a lot, as we marched on forming a one long queue with Humbert at the front and me(Ambrose) being the last one making the queue, the reason we did that was for the overall safety especially because the night was approaching and because we were entering in a bit distant land where it’s quite safe if girls are in the middle of the queue and boys be the protectors.
While we trekked, we were also checking some water sources so that we could camp for the night, there were times where two or three among the boys were allowed to check the nearby places to see if there are some water sources. After about two hours of trekking and the sun nearly disappear we finally found a small water source that could fetch us for the night, but before doing anything we had a meeting; me, Albert (our Brother in law) and my cousin Humbert being the eldest among all took the charged, so we parted into groups with different tasks, one group including me and Humbert, our task was to fit the Tents, arrange the place for cooking and the fire, the second group were only the girls including Aroma(Rit) Reme(Deng), Vivid(Lung), Confi(Heprit) and Bada(Thei) to prepare the vegetables and meat for cooking like peeling the onions, etc. and the last and the final group including Albert, Wish(Bahhep), Visual, Prince(Bahduh), Eben, Khraw(Bahnah), Banlam (Bahbah) where Albert being the leader to lead the group for collecting firewoods. As soon as we finished fitting the tents, the sun had already gone, but the firewood group was so fast that they had already brought a bunch of woods ready for the fire to burn, the girls also have worked so hard, they had prepared everything in place for cooking, finally, they chose me to do the cooking, and Prince (Bahduh) my assistant. As I was cooking, some boys were making a very nice place for a bonfire, a fire was lighted and the music was heard from a portable Bluetooth device and I was busy cooking with Bahduh. As they surrounded the fire in the middle, Humbert as an elderly bro told some old tales where his grandma used to tell but some were scary so some girls didn’t like at all to hear scary tales in the middle of the jungle and wanted to change the topic, but it was nice though as he had a sense of humour too for making all of them laughed. Suddenly, “The food is ready to serve” I shouted for I knew that all of us were hungry, so we had our dinner, myself I found that it was the best dinner ever in the middle of nowhere with no perfect lights, no dining table, no comfortable chairs, etc. like we used to have at home but somehow I felt pity for the girls especially for they have less experienced in dining and eating in the wild. After we have finished our dinner, we started to surround the fire again and decided to wait till midnight for the New Year to come.
So, we started singing some beautiful devotional songs and a lot of Christmas songs also, Eben who used to be a little bit silent especially when it comes to singing but this time he lead and taught us one group song on how to sing and join the song beautifully, “Wow!“ that night was so beautiful and best reminiscence for all of us as a family, our hearts just exploded with ecstasy and love especially it was just only 6 days after Christmas to remember how Christ was born to save us even though I knew that people celebrate Christmas once a year, what if we treat Christmas as in our everyday lives where forgiveness is every day, where giving to the poor in all seasons and where carols were sung in our hearts to cherish and to love always, and to really accept Jesus Christ in our hearts, to have His all qualities of Him in us, in our hearts by not only with just our outside modification as Christian. We did sing till midnight and felt the cold especially on our cheeks but that consoled us with our palms facing the warm fire in our midst. We also saw uncountable stars shining perfectly undisturbed by the city lights, I did wish this wouldn’t be my dream for I would be missing a lot if this was not a reality, that crazy thought came in my mind as I was admiring the wonders of the night. Before we go to sleep we had our small service of prayers where we hand over all our days ahead to the Lord in our prayers, Humbert and I gave some short speech and we slept. Our tents are not fully winter tent-designed so they could not fully resist the dew of the freezing night, but our sleeping bags were strong enough to keep us warm till the next morning.
On hearing the birds chirping around my ears, suddenly I woke up seeing the beautiful sun rays peeking my face through some space inside the tent, as I stretched both of my hands to the sky, I could clearly see the beautiful surrounding around our tents, “Woah! It’s breath-taking”, I would never stop admiring this beauty that captured my heart my everything. My mates, some of them have gone for sightseeing to the beautiful near-surrounding while there were some who were still asleep; after taking my breakfast, now it’s time again to cook some food for lunch while most of them were playing game on that vast wide-spread grassland, they seem so enjoyable playing like little kids again, they played ‘Mawpoiñ’, it’s a Khasi Traditional game where the players divide themselves into two teams and one team’s task is to keep all the stones one upon another until they have kept all the stones in a pyramid formation and the opponents are to throw them with a ball, if the person is being hit then that person is out except if he/she is being hit in the head but usually the head is used as a shield by the player in defending the body.
Finally, it was our time to leave this beautiful mesmerizing place, so we left with so much love, memories, a feeling to be missed a lot, we left the grassland and trekked back to our village but while heading back to our destiny, on our way we visited the cave, ‘Ka Krem Mawtynhiang’ (Mawtynhiang Cave), it is one of the very long sandstone caves known to the world. Entering the cave was a great experience especially for my brothers and sisters, for they have longed for so long to visit the cave, truly, they have enjoyed a lot on seeing the stones inside the cave and how they are formed in their own uniqueness, some are in the form of animals’ fossils of different kinds, seeing that one can assume that its speleogenesis might have been taken place a million years ago.
It was evening, time to return home with our hearts filled with bliss and ecstasy, joy beyond measure for once in a lifetime we did something memorable that will last in our memories forever. The post-Christmas was beautiful and New Year is spent well in the lap of mother nature, caressed by the gentle hands of it, undisturbed by the sound of heavy music of the streets and by some crackers of the night; finally, I felt and believed that we have chosen the best decision ever.
‘Nongnah’ for in your lap I was placed on the day I was born,
Fascinated my eyes with your glorious gown
The hills, the valleys, caverns and caves,
Your unending stupendous beauty never cease;
Bestowed something marvellous my heart felt
That heal all the stressful minds of our daily lives’ toils,
So, talk me of the big wide sphere and corners,
The far away beauty,
You’d still my masterpiece, a treasure for a lifetime.