The house where we spent our childhood. Kohima.
We were born in the lap of nature. Our childhood was spent happily climbing trees, crawling among fallen leaves, chasing butterflies and dragon, trapping spiders and rodents, hollering our hearts out like little banshees and getting our little yellow bodies browned in the sun. The trees were our best friends. We skinned our knees and showed off our scars proudly like our warrior ancestors would have. We roamed the jungles of lower Bayavu Hill till the New Secretariat Junction and even beyond. In winter, we gathered holly and wild pines for decorating our home at Christmas.
Christmas tree from those old days.
In summer we fished in the streams and rivulets and trapped small wild animals. We would go digging for crabs and return with dinner for everyone. Frogs, locusts, cicadas, dragon flies and certain spiders were also sport. Azi was the chief animal trapper, assisted ably by our only brother Mhaseve. White field rodents, otters, squirrels and even wild cats sometimes, were captured and carefully brought home. Some were freed, some died and some ended up in our bellies.
Pepo the Second. Our family cat. (Pepo=Grey)
We once rescued an owl and nursed him back to health and the old guy settled in an old tree's hollow right opposite our childhood home along Kohima's Billy Graham Road and made the loveliest of hoots every night for a long time until our cat, Pepo the Second, got the poor guy and this time, we couldn't help him.
Home sweet home once upon a time.

Our house was surrounded by thick woods, hunting trails and very few neighbors. We literally lived in the jungle. When we first moved in, we had many visits from snakes and tigers a couple of times. There were numerous wild cherry trees and Khula trees (A tall tree bearing litchi sized yellow fruits with a smooth covering, which are sweet-sour to taste and used to make curry too) to climb and collect fruits from. There were alders and oaks and a great many others we knew by sight if not by name.(Got to work that one out, botany tutorials anyone?)
Our kitchen garden and the forest beyond.
Saturday picnics of tea in flasks and Parle G biscuits. Drying gooseberry boiled in sugar and wood apples too, in the sun. Peaches and Guavas. Mulberries and Wild Berries. Bananas and cucumbers. Pears and Oranges from friendly farmers returning from their fields. Sometimes, even gifts of beans and pumpkins. We would gather at the bamboo gate of our house and wish them all goodnight as they headed back from the fields.
Sweet wild berries.
Our camps were built with sticks and leaves, hats made of banana leaves and we fashioned guns and spears out of twigs and dead wood. And staged battles and made conquests. Our chatter and shrieks and laughter were definitely comparable to the summer songs of the Cicadas of Kohima. We knew it was time to head home when the Cicadas finished their songs for the day. There were plenty of rice fields and to visit and play in after the harvests, and hay fights come november.
I caught a dragon fly!
The rice fields attract lots of dragonflies past october and they would all settle to sleep as the sun went down. This was the time to grab as many as one could and thread them together with stems of grass and twine it around one's fingers. Once we got home, we'd pluck out the wings and fry them to crisps with salt and pepper to taste, for dinner.
The winding road home.
In winter, frog hunting was a major activity in the woods with young boys and grown ups alike, moving through dead leaves on the forest floors, looking for hibernating frogs. Frogs are known to have healing properties plus they are good to eat when cooked the right way, so there is a huge rush and we would watch from our windows as people with torchlights did the rounds in the late evenings and nights, braving the cold.
View of a portion of Kohima town from our old home.
This could well have been us. (Source : http://www.kohimaeducationaltrust.net)
We did a lot of walking too. To school. To town for shopping expeditions. To Church on Sundays. And to our favourite jungle haunts and picnic spots, which were always far from home.
Our foreheads were always brown and shiny, elbows and knees scraped, jeans and shorts wornout and muddied; hay, sticks or dead leaves in our hair; and we bore much pain and beatings too when the little ones fell or got scratched on our many expeditions. But we were happy and carefree.
We lived one day at a time and in the moment. School was fun and holidays even more so.
Life was extra beautiful. And then all too soon, we grew up. One after the other.
Dragon fly at rest. (Source: Internet)
Haven't seen dragonflies in a while.
Heard the Cicadas sing today and memories came flooding back.
The kind of Cicada we catch :) (Source: Internet)
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