I vaguely remembered the name, Easterine Kire, from sometime in the past, since she got the Hindu Prize 2015 for one of her novels. Somehow, in the desire to read her works, I ordered ‘Don’t Run, My Love’, something she published as recently as in 2017. The capitalist world works in mysterious ways. I was going through a lot of books online, reading their reviews, judging them by their covers, by the name of their authors and by their titles, when I mysteriously found ‘Don’t Run, My Love’ and its description almost succeeded in pulling me towards it with a look at its cover finalizing the choice in mere seconds. I put it in my cart. Sometime later, I ordered it when I desperately felt the need to read a love story embedded in magic and mystique.
When the book was delivered, I was disappointed in it for I was expecting a novel, but it turned out to be a novella with less than 120 pages, a short work of fiction that could be read in one sitting. I wanted to take time to read it, sipping in green tea, changing cafes while digesting the story as it comes my way. I wanted the story to linger within me for some time. Nevertheless, I started reading it. A few pages went by and the pace of the novella was as slow as a bullock cart on a 6-lane highway. It revolved around the life and times of a widow and her daughter who had recently turned 18 and had moved past the right age of marriage. It talked about how they both worked on their farm, devoid of any man in their life. The writing was simple and portrayed the simple lifestyle of a village life. I was waiting for magical creatures at appear, but all I could read about was a mother and her daughter and how a young man came into their life who seemed interested to marry the young daughter. It was all normal until it wasn’t. How subtly the plot shifted, climax knocked on the door and the novella was finished, I have no idea. Time passed and I was sitting on my chair facing the serenity of Buddha on my desk, calling it a day, a day full of lessons and the mystical charm of a world I didn’t know anything about. As it appeared later, the initial pages were setting the premise for what was about to conspire.
Initially, I had no idea that the terms like dahou, thehou nou, kichuki, kevakete, and kephou which could be read a number of times in between, were part of the Naga language. I took them as part of a constructed language by the author to fuel the fictional story of Angamis. Only later I found out, sparked by the reading of the novella, that the story which I just read was part of the Naga folklore and the people of Nagaland are called as Angamis. I, of course, re-read some of the pages in the novella only find out the meaning of all of the above words. Kichuki is a male dormitory and Kephou, hand weaved baskets made of cane or bamboo, carried by pulling a strap across the head by women as well as men either to carry water or to carry harvest of rice and vegetables from paddy fields. It has a square base and a wide cylindrical mouth. I also came to know about the harvest festival, Kevakete, in which children are asked to catch hibernating frogs and it is considered good to eat them because these frogs hibernate and therefore remain without food for many months. Eating them is considered an auspicious omen that food is going to last for a long time in the house. Also, no eating grasshoppers and dragonflies as they destroy crops. Fascinating culture, isn’t it?
India is such a place where every place is full of multitudes of creative (maybe full of superstition, though representing a way of life) folklore which always end with providing great insight into the daily lives of the people. Here, the story talks about the existence of a weretiger, a tekhumevi, in the normal world, coming close to the male chauvinist of the real world. He is half tiger and half human, and can easily travel to the spirit world of wise seers. It seemed impossible that the two women will be able to save themselves from the weretiger, but they fought for their lives, determined, they went to the village of seers, didn’t find a solution, got over their fears, and finally were able to reach the Woodsman, who killed the weretiger at the right time before he was able to kill Atuonuo, the daughter of Visenuo.
I think I most loved the strong character of the widowed mother, who single-handedly managed the farm of her husband’s family after his death, who was ready to fight the village people for a respected life and didn’t think twice before leaving the house at night to save her daughter. She stuck to her daughter and only felt relieved when the weretiger was killed. Such powerful women character in a folklore makes it more interesting because of their positive impact on society.
‘Don’t Run, My Love’ is a simple book narrating a simple but mystical story which you may love reading over the weekend as it can be finished in a short time. On the other hand, if you don’t like simple mystical short stories with an unreasonable turn of events, do not waste your time reading it.
Though, I think I was more than pacified reading it over the weekend, even though it didn’t turn out to be the love story I wanted it to be. It didn’t stay with me for long, but it made me happy.
If it is for you, buy it from here: