Right since class one, he was very friendly with Zoram . And, till college days the friendship continued. Zoram was from Mizoram, a village near the capital town of Aizawl, by the name of Kolasib.
Mizoram in the sixties and seventies was a ferment. The militancy of an outlawed organization was at its height. Mizoram was troubled, it was in pain, amidst the cry for an independent nation. The banned organization was fighting for sovereign rights.
It all started with a famine, due to a pestilence. The famine affected one and all. Militarism was countered by militarism. Little Zoram was only eleven when people from the Army stormed into his house. He saw them questioning his parents, and heard loud shouts. Then, a woman whimpering as she lay on the ground. His father was begging for mercy. Then two of the men dragged his fifteen year old sister into a room. He heard shouts, and then it subsided. He heard a gun shot.
In college when they joined the first year his friend told him:
'I hate the Sikh Regiment'.
Why he asked.
Because, they are brutal killers. Whenever I meet them I don't want to talk to them.
But you can't generalize I said.
Yes, I can he said. You should have been there to see it. There were times we could not eat. My father was a school teacher. And at any time they could barge in. We simply prayed. But I forgave, he said.
Today I forgive. This is what Christ taught.
Why did Indians kill Indians? I asked.
Zoram could not answer. Nor could I.
I thought of rape and murder. I thought of how people were killed.
And do you know, why? a voice asked.
Why? I replied.
Because of a famine.
A famine? I thought.
Because of a famine people were warring?
Yes, the voice said.
Hunger. This is hunger.
After college Zoram joined a Bank as an Officer. I met him fifteen years after that. He looked happy, and materially well off.
I have now settled in New Delhi he said.
What about the hunger, the pain? I thought.
Do you feel it still, Zoram?