The other day as I was reading the newspaper, I heard a tiny voice behind the news page. I shifted my focus to find out where it came from. Two eager faces of my impish grand nephews peered back at me. Their eyes seemed swollen. I suspected they must have gotten some tough dressing down from their mum for some mighty reason.
I thought for a while.
Aha! I knew what tricks they’ve been up to. They were throwing mud at each other and I told them so.
The boys were taken aback, both wondering aloud how on earth I knew.
Well, there’s a story, I replied. Two brothers, U Symper and U Kyllang, threw mud at each other and turned into hills. You can see those hills even today, I added, and the boys were lucky they too didn’t turn into hills. Not just yet.
Well, I asked for it. I had to tell them this story.
The Khasi Folklore of Lum Symper and Lum Kyllang
Long ago, the Khasi nation,children of the Seven Huts and Seven Nests, was a great one.
In the country around present-day Mairang in the Maharam hima and Nongkhlaw hima, there once lived two brothers, U Kyllang and U Symper.
When they were young boys they were as fun-loving as all youngsters and would always be up to some trick or the other, fighting as many times as they played. They were inseparable, these brothers, always roaming together in the valleys and hills, fields, streams and woods around their home.
U Symper, the elder one was the gentle, kind and well-mannered of the two. On the other hand, his younger brother U Kyllang was an ill-tempered fellow with a volatile disposition. Such was his temper that even the slightest of provocations would make him so angry he’d blast away with anything that came into his hands.
As they became adults, Kyllang became even more irascible. He would often leave his hima and forayed eastwards into the khat-ar doloi country of the Jaintias or Syntengs, who were the subjects of the ‘Lei Synteng,’ the Synteng god.
These two hima were always at war with each other. U Kyllang loved to fly about like a hurricane(‘er- kyllang’ called in local Khasi language) only to create havoc and leave behind trails of destruction in the Jaintia hima. In equal measure, the ‘Lei Synteng’ would often retaliate by sending malarial epidemics to U Kyllang’s hima in the west.
The Mud-Slinging Battle Between U Kyllang and U Symper
Then one fateful day, just after the corn season was over in Kmawan, the two brothers were in a playful mood. They were having fun picking up deseeded cobs of corn and throwing them at each other.
It so happened that a cob hit U Kyllang, rather hard on his head. Being hot-tempered he quickly burned with anger and, without warning, instead of cobs he started clawing and uprooting stumps of plants, hitting his brother with them.
This went on and on till even his gentle brother couldn’t contain himself any longer. He too started digging for stumps and throwing them at U Kyllang.
As this continued, people gathered around and tried every means to pacify the brothers. But they wouldn’t listen to reason. Soon what had started as harmless fun became a full-scale battle.
The fight raged on but neither would give in or relent. Dusk crept in and darkness began to settle. By now, the grounds had become a pockmarked landscaped from the uprooting of tree stumps, desolate as a battlefield.
At last, U Kyllang could feel pain racking through his body. He realised his strength was draining and defeat was imminent. So, he rolled himself on the ground, away from Kmawan, shaking off the soil from his body in the process.
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On and on he rolled till he reached a village called Khadsawphra and there he collapsed and died. His body then turned into a huge rock, the Kyllang Rock, or Lum Kyllang. Till today Lum Kyllang has not a speck of soil on it, only solid granite.
U Symper also did not fare better either. He collapsed on the same spot where they fought, all covered with soil and mud. His body turned into the Symper Hill, Lum Symper. It stands alone majestically in a wide field with no other hills around.
The Legend Lives On
Till today you can see the pockmarked ground around the foothill, signs of stumps uprooted by the brothers. Even the stumps of ‘Ja-ut’ (Hooker’s onion) which U Symper threw at his brother can still be seen.
The expressions on my nephews’ faces were worth a look after listening to this story! And they vowed never to mud-fight again. ?
True or not, these folkores teach us important lessons about patience, humility, and love.
Passing them on to our generations is important. We feel, there is no betterway to learn values than from these stories ad folklores.