Henjunaha : Part 3
- From a book by K.B. Sharma -

James Oinam *

 Henjunaha  :: An illustration done by James Oinam
Henjunaha :: An illustration done by James Oinam

Henjunaha: Part 3

Laiji Loya

It was early morning. The girls were picking flowers in bamboo baskets.
'Let's see who can fill the baskets with beautiful flowers first,' suggested one.

'Yes, Yes, Let's,' agreed all in chorus.
'Friend Lairaulembi, why do you look so sad?' enquired Tonu.

'Dear Friend, it so getting late and still no sign of them coming. Maybe they have forgotten all about us,' replied Lairaulembi.
'Friends, go ahead and pick your flowers. We will rest here for a while,' Tonu told their friends.

The other girls went ahead in various directions. Meanwhile at a distance Tonu saw Henjunaha and Loya coming towards them.
'Look over there,' pointed out Tonu.

Lairaulembi's face beamed with joy.
Lairaulembi and Tonu rushed towards them.

'We thought you are not coming,' said Lairaulembi to them.
'O Dear, your father disapproved of me so much. I wondered if you should go against the wishes of your father,' explained Henjunaha, taking the hands of Lairaulembi and walking aimlessly in one direction, while Loya and Tonu went the other way.

'I can only be where my heart is,' assured Lairaulembi to Henjunaha.
In this way the lovers spent quite some time rambling among the sweet-scented grassy paths.

Henjunaha and Lairaulembi vowed in the name god Thangjing that not just in this life but in all their lives they would be lovers.
Khoijuhongbi, Lairaulembi's mother, came looking for the girls while were making promises to their lovers.

'Lairau, what you doing alone with this poor man? Where are your friends?' exclaimed Khoijuhongbi.
'O Mother, I love him with true heart,' replied Lairaulembi.

'There are many suitors in the kingdom of Moirang who will happily take you as their wife. Why do you have to go after this poor orphan?' demanded Khoijuhongbi.
'Mother, Love is mine alone. Beauty is for everybody,' replied Lairaulembi.

Khoijuhongbi was outraged and slapped her daughter. Then she left the place without saying any more words.
Henjunaha sat down next to Lairaulembi and tried to calm her. A tempest was raging in her heart.

'Love, you must come to my home and meet me on the first Saturday of the Lamta month…in the evening in secret when everyone in the house had gone to bed. We will run away and be together forever,' declared Lairaulembi.
Henjunaha saw that Lairaulembi was firm in her resolution.

He promised Lairaulembi to come for her on the said day. And so, the two departed with the determination to be united forever.

Roads and Fields

It was afternoon. The playground was empty. The market was quiet.
In the middle of the road, married women, elderly women and maibis were gathered. On plantain leaves as plates, they had put rice, flowers and fruits.

The maibis prayed to the spirits, 'Bring prosperity and ward off illness from the kingdom. Evil spirits go away.'
Turning to the company, they proclaimed, 'It is time of the year when the spirits discuss who will die this year (singthaba numit). So let us go and stay safe in our houses.'

As evening approaches, people locked their gates and stayed in the safety of their houses. Unmindful of what was happening around, Henjunaha was out to meet his love, swinging his father's Kangjei in one hand.
'O my friends seem have organized a feast on the road. I will sit down beside the empty plate, eat something and then be on my way again,' Henjunaha resolved.

Some in the party murmured to each other, 'I can smell human beings. Do you?'
'My meat does not taste good. Perhaps, it has been dead for some time,' said one.

'Mine is fresh. Died recently, I think,' spoke the other.
'Don't worry, Henjunaha, the handsome son of the widow Khoidom, is destined to die. I will have him,' declared one spirit.

'Also the beautiful Lairaulembi is going to die. She is mine,' another spirit said, looking with big eyes at other to see if anyone has any objection.
'All in good time,' told an elderly spirit to them.

'Why, the food they have put on my plate has got human fingers in it,' thought Henjunaha, much frightened. Then he remembered what his mother had told him earlier that day. The king's men had made announcement that evil spirits would be deciding who are going to die this year. So people are advised not to venture out of their gates.

'These are not my friends. None of these have their feet on the ground,' Henjunaha realized in horror. Not a moment could be lost if he wanted to live. In his terror, he got up, stumbled over his plate, and ran as fast as he could.

'Who can that be who would stepped over his food,' yelled one.
'That's not a spirit. That's a human being. I told you I smelled of human beings.'

The spirits chased after Henjunaha.

Khoijuhongba's House

It was late night. Lairaulembi had been waiting for Henjunaha in the verandah all this time.
'So fickle is the love of men. Out of sight, and you are forgotten,' said Lairaulembi to herself.

'O, What is it that I hear? It is the wild pigeon chirping. I wonder what news have you brought for me? Why my arms keep twitching? What bad omens are these foretelling me? O Lord Thanjing, kindly look after him.'

After much hesitation, she turned around and entered the house.
The silence of the night was broken as Henjunaha came running to Khoijuhonga's house. The evils come chasing after like a rumbling chaos of rocks falling off the cliff. Now and then Henjunaha swung his Kanjei at the followers.

'Keep away from that Kangjei. Let it not hit you if you value your lives. It is no ordinary Kanjei!'
Henjunaha was close to Khoijuhongba's property. There was no time unlatch the gates. Instead, he jumped the hedgerow. His kangjei got stuck in the branches.

'O my love, let me in,' he called out. But it was too late.
At the spot where rains fall off the rooftop he fell, and the spirits gathered around and took his life.

Lairaulembi came running out of the house. The scene before her was too much for her to bear. She took up the lifeless body her lover on her laps.

She took out a knife and pierced it into her heart.
When all became silent again, Khoijuhongbi came out looking for her daughter.

She grabbed the lifeless body her daughter and cried.

(Story of the Crane Couple Resumes)

Male Crane: 'And thus ended the lives of the lovers.'
Female Crane: 'O Destiny!'

Adapted from:
Book Title: Henjunaha
Author: K.B. Sharma
Publisher: Dr. Laishram Lokendra
First Print: 2010
Printer: Rajesh Book Store, Governor Road, Imphal

* James Oinam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at jamesoinam(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 03, 2019.

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