Keys of yesterday will be the keys of tomorrow

By Bansharailang Pyngrope

“Although we do not have a vast number of articles, books, authors, etc in our Khasi language, we however have many stories- doctored through books or through stories orally passed down through generations and not to forget the beautiful music we have been blessed with.”

As we step into our Golden Jubilee year, our state is geared up for a celebration filled 2022 where several projects and programmes will be announced by the Chief Minister. Our state is young, but it has grown and has many memories to reminisce. Vast majority of today’s population were not born during the time when our people fought for an independent state and this is the perfect time to look back, beyond the hill state movement, to the roots of the characteristics that have been instilled upon the leaders of that time to go on to achieve this great objective.
Although we do not have a vast number of articles, books, authors, etc in our Khasi language, we however have many stories- doctored through books or through stories orally passed down through generations and not to forget the beautiful music we have been blessed with. The basic theme of all these stories and songs which ring the loudest are two basic qualities which are heavily emphasized- “trei shitom”(work hard) and “kamai ka hok”(earn honestly). We have heard these two powerful phrases so much that maybe we have taken them for granted or maybe we the young generation with social media and other distractions have not pondered enough on these two important phrases.
Our ancestors were simple, raw and wise. These two qualities of “trei shitom” and “kamai ka hok” might sound simple but are the keys to our tomorrow, as they were the keys to the successes of yester-years. The leaders who fought for our statehood, fought it with honour and dignity; not a single drop of blood was shed and yet they achieved this great feat. How? When our state was declared autonomous, Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said, “When I think of Meghalaya I hear a musical sound evoking thoughts of high hills and clouds…. blessed with rainfall and sunshine, dense forest and high plateaus and deep gorges, where the air is refreshing and invigorating, with tumbling waterfalls and crystal clear rivers BUT ABOVE ALL ELSE Meghalaya has been blessed with sturdy and intelligent people, Meghalaya is definitely one of the most beautiful states in the country.”
The leaders were sturdy and intelligent. These qualities stemmed out of these deep rooted teachings of “trei shitom” and “kamai ka hok”. I’ve heard stories of our Late Chief Minister, B.B. Lyngdoh saying that the best exercise is washing clothes at 5 am in the morning. It is something simple but so powerful. Do we the current generation and the young generation have such discipline and energy? These are stories I’ve heard. There are also stories I’ve seen from close quarters. My Mei Ieid (maternal grandmother) a business lady selling fish in Ïewduh since she was in her early teens, giving up her studies for her younger siblings to be able to continue theirs. Ever since I could remember, she had a routine she followed thoroughly every single day from Monday to Saturday “leit sha ïew” (go to the market) from morning till evening and Sunday spend time tending her garden. She was never tired. She was of that generation who through words or actions showed us the value of “trei shitom.”
I also hear through stories from my elders about the generation of leaders who fought for our statehood and how they were just a completely different breed of politicians to the ones we have now. They were not drawn by the glitter and diamonds of politics but simply looked at it as just another job, to work earnestly and honestly.
Again I look no further than my Mei Ieid who taught me through her actions that no matter how many people lied to her and cheated her, she stood strong and never followed their tricks to earn dishonestly. She believed in the good side of people and had never thought of keeping a rupee she didn’t earn. Despite being in Iewduh her whole life, she never taught us tricks but instead showed us the spirit of earning every rupee honestly and to value it. From her actions I can closely see the spirit of our ancestors-“kamai ia ka hok.”
These are the qualities which are enshrined in our culture, but somewhere, somehow we are forgetting these virtues. Our present generation has grown increasingly selfish and impatient, looking for easy ways to do things, reluctant to work hard because apparently that is what being smart today is. This is best reflected by the people who are actually elected to represent us. Only few exude the spirit of “trei shitom” and “kamai ia ka hok”, and maybe this is why we as a state are lagging behind on almost every parameter, whether it is our education sector or our capacity to generate employment. But we cannot put all the blame on the politicians because what is truly the mood on the ground? People who aspire to be politicians and even those who don’t, blatantly take it for granted that people aspiring to be politicians are all the same. They see politics as the door to a luxurious life, forgetting that there are lakhs of people who do not even get the basic necessities of life.
We the people on the ground need to change our perspective; we need to take ownership of our state, our land, our home. We need to inculcate in ourselves and in our future generations the two wonderful qualities which have been passed down from generation to generation, through words and actions, the spirit of “trei shitom” and “kamai ka hok” for these were the keys of yesterday which gave us our statehood and these will be the keys we use today to open doors to a beautiful and prosperous tomorrow.

“Our ancestors were simple, raw and wise. These two qualities of “trei shitom” and “kamai ka hok” might sound simple but are the keys to our tomorrow, as they were the keys to the successes of yester-years. The leaders who fought for our statehood, fought it with honour and dignity; not a single drop of blood was shed and yet they achieved this great feat.”

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