Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Legend of Nohkalikai............ Meghalaya, India

*    This folktale is a heart-rending story of a Khasi woman.

*      In the village of Rangjyrteh, upstream the falls, lived a woman called Ka Likai. Ka (prefix 'ka' means feminine gender.). Her husband was a porter who made his livelihood carrying iron to Sylhet. On one of the trips, he died leaving Ka Likai with a baby girl to take care of. She had to take up the job of porter herself, like many Khasi women, and ferry iron from Rangjyrteh to Mawmluh village, leaving her baby in the care of others. 

*      After sometime a few women persuaded her to find another man to take care of her and her child. So, Ka Likai remarried. Her new husband was jealous of the attention Ka Likai gave to her baby girl and hence hated the baby. One day when Ka Likai was out on her job, her husband killed the girl, chopped the baby into pieces and cooked the flesh. He threw away the head and bones, but forgot the fingers in the kwai (paan)basket. 

*     A tired and hungry Likai returned to her house to find none at home. She presumed that perhaps, her baby was with her new father or neighbours. The hunger and smell of the meat led her to satiate her hunger before going in search of her child. Anyway, the child had been safe in the care of others till then. The meat was tasty but left her clueless as to what meat it was. As usual after a meal she picked up the kwai basket to help herself to a kwai. Shocked, she found severed fingers of a child in the basket. 

*      The horror  that she had eaten her own beloved child, struck her like a lightning. Ka Likai became mad with anger and desperation. She ran screaming in dismay, brandishing a 'wait' - a chopper - at anyone who tried to stop her. She ran and ran till the edge where the cascade fell off the precipice and threw herself over the edge. 

*       'Noh' in Khasi means to jump. Thus the waterfall was named Noh - Ka - Likai (Nohkalikai).  
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