Of Follies and Frailties Of Wit and Wisdom

Rate this post


Author: Esther Syiem
Pages: 86
Year of Publication: 2010
Price: Rs 150
HB 978-81-8157-999-7 (9788181579997)

About the Author:
Esther Syiem is a professor in the Department of English at North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong. Her books include a volume of poetry, Oral Scriptings (published by Writers Workshop, India, in 2005, 2nd edition, 2010), a Khasi play, Ka Nam and a work of criticism, The Idiom of the Allegorical Mode: A Study of Six Novels.

She has been researching and writing about Khasi oral literature for over a decade.


of A Terrifying Glimpse from a Passing Taxi (mid 1960s)

For “walking around” with dkhars from the alien plains
they were not cross-questioned; simply
stripped and paraded for their sexual preferences;
two hill-women who chose to look for spouses
from other than their own kind

watched over by honest, upright, local demi-gods
who balanced race
on a tripod of communal justice,
whose wrath they brought down

as if there was none from amongst these virile godlings
potent enough to be had as husbands.

I saw a blur of naked belly on naked moving legs
followed by a disciplined line
of the virtue-minded subsidiary gods
and a mesmerized rabble, hard-hit
by the injustice of the women’s choice,

that evening from within a passing taxi,

and heard the stifled storm
of choking protests
not knowing what had happened
but frightened by the rip
that tore my innocence apart
and shot me into sudden knowledge.

Much, much later…
witnesses screamed,
don’t they have mothers and sisters?
to do this thing, this unnatural thing?

What have they done?
said mothers and sisters
transfixed by godlings
who carnivalised the shame
of their own mothers and sisters.

of the Feud / 9
of Kyllang / 11
of Bemsynda / 13
of Sohlyngngem’s Dirge / 17
of the everyday thoughts of an ordinary woman / 19
from Mango Discard / 20
of Ksuid Tynjang / 23
of Mait Tyrut / 25
of Him Whom We Visited that Afternoon / 27
of A Terrifying Glimpse from a Passing Taxi (mid 1960s) / 29
of that Night in Shillong in the 1990s / 31
Accidents on National Highway 44 (Barik Point, Shillong) / 33
of my neighbour / 35
of Grandmother / 37
of Pahsyntiew – 1 / 41
of Pahsyntiew – 2 / 44
Memoirs of a Distracted Lover / 47
Road Signs / 50
of Malki Church – 1 (August 2006) / 52
of Malki Church – 2 (August 2006) / 54
Only for the Bird-Brained
(the strange testimony of the late Ekstanley lawphniaw) / 56
Kthang Kti (Bitter Hands)
(the strange testimony continued) / 58
When the bamboo talked / 61
of My Non-Urban Friends / 63
Retelling Nam’s Tale / 66
In the Words of a Grandmother:
“The Lineage Must Continue” / 72
The Claim – 1 / 74
The Claim – 2 / 75
The Claim – 3 / 77
of our Mawrymphiat Valley / 81

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *