17 April, 2021

A Story For The Miglun

A tale set in the wilds of Assam and Arunachal speaks of old certainties crashing into the colonial vanguard

A Story For The Miglun

To read Mamang Dai is to return to the poetic—whether in Stupid Cupid’s sweltering urban setting of Delhi ripe with illicit love affairs, or in the wild, intertwined stories of the Adi community in The Legends of Pensam. The Black Hill, set in the northeast regions of Assam and Arunachal, also brims with beauty. We know, from the outset, that it’s a story of two men—told by a woman to the narrator of the book. “If anyone were to ask me where I heard this story, how I found it, I would have no answer.” Instead, the narrator places it firmly within a less tangible, oral tradition, one of the many stories in the world that are lost, a version that has been ‘misplaced’, though pegged to several real events. This is, Dai makes clear, undocumented history. One that’s gloriously complex and layered, imaginatively capturing a moment in time—the coming of the miglun, or white men—that changed the region forever.

The Black Hill intricately braids the lives of three...

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