The light of the day began to melt away as the darkness started weaving the sky with stars and a crescent moon. We were waiting for the slow cooked pork sipping local rice beer along with the Khasi tribe. There was a chill in the air which made me gather some dry woods and start a bonfire. Very soon we had all of them swaying to the influence of rice beer and the beautiful starlit sky. As we sat watching the hot glowing sparks dancing the one person started carving a branch into a spear and then started moving the wood in the bonfire. Since I was travelling there, I was very keen to know some stories that they might have there, so I asked one of them if there are any stories that they can share with me. He said I will share with you the story of storytelling. What do you mean, I asked. I mean the tradition of storytelling is very important to us, and there is a legend behind it, how did it all start.
Apparently, thousands of years ago, a man from Khasi tribe was contacted by God, who handed over a document which had philosophical, and religious teachings along with the proper guidelines for performing different types of rituals. On the way back home, the man lost this important document given by God himself. (I wonder how maybe he might have been drinking rice beer) When he realised that he had lost the documents, he was scared and fearing the rage of the people he cooked up a story. The man came back to the village and told everyone that all the teachings of God were recorded in his mind and he was instructed to pass it orally to others. And in turn, they were supposed to pass it on to others. This is how the tradition of storytelling is believed to have started among the Khasi tribe. Now I wonder how true and authentic is this one. But never the less good to know.
Then there was another fascinating story about the Nohkalikai Falls. This beautiful waterfall is tucked away in the state of Meghalaya, and it is considered to be the tallest plunge waterfall in India. Before I tell the story let me explain to you that the Khasi word Nohkalikai literally translates to “Jump of Ka Likai”. Here, “Ka” is a prefix that is given to the female gender in the Khasi language.
Likai was a young mother who lived in the village of Rangjyrteh, which is nearby the waterfall. Her husband passed away at a very young age. She had a little baby girl who she loved a lot and whenever she came back home after doing her work she would spend all the time with her, giving her full attention. Since Likai was young and had her whole life ahead of her, the local villagers insisted that she got married for her own good. And eventually they found a guy for her, and she married again. The new husband was very jealous of all the attention and love Likai gave the little baby. He was doing all he could to get her attention. One day he cooked a meal for his wife. When she reached home she went looking for her baby but thought that she must be around in the neighbour’s house, she sat down to eat. I am sure by now you must have figured or might be getting a tingling feeling in your stomach thinking what happened to the baby. Yes, the man was so jealous that he chopped the baby and cooked her for the meal which he fed his wife. Likai was still unaware, after her meal, she sat down to have her betel leaves and nuts, that’s when near the basket of the betel leaves she found a tiny finger, she immediately recognised that it was her daughters. Then it hit her what she had eaten, petrified and enraged she ran and kept running not knowing what to do; finally, she reached the edge of the fall from where she jumped. From that day onwards people started calling this magnificent fall as ‘Nohkalikai falls’ – Jump of Laikai.