Open Book Publishers logo Open Access logo
  • button
  • button
  • button
GO TO...
book cover

13. Ka Aïom Ksiar–Season of Gold

Translation and Notes © Janet Hujon, CC BY 4.0

Should one wish to compare Ki Sngi Barim U Hynñiew Trep to a musical form, the polyphonic fugue would perhaps be its closest relative. In keeping with the poet’s own longings and ultimate hope for a new world, it is the soaring melody of hope that is sustained throughout. At the same time Soso Tham’s understanding of the frailty of human nature repeatedly introduces passages of anger, hopelessness and sombre reflection. The presence of these varied themes consequently preempts a positive finale. Soso Tham understands that the eternal lesson which Life and Nature hold for us is that the battle between light and darkness, hope and despair, life and death will always be fought—and we can either be worthy combatants or sidle down the path of least resistance.

Soso Tham wrote Ki Sngi Barim U Hynñiew Trep for his people and this exposition has been and will always be the poet speaking, exhorting and even pleading with his people. Nowhere is this made more clear than in the closing verses. He harks back to the shared myth of inherited beginnings and legends, to the presence of hope and joy and to the two moral pillars supporting the fabric of Khasi society—Truth and Justice. His pride in his homeland never wanes, but apprehension and doubt are never silenced. That which he has tried to reclaim and rebuild is still under threat: “Uncertain the journey of our people, our land”.

However, his own belief in the homeland that has long cradled him, and the messages of renewal evident in Nature, reassert their force and thus reawaken hope and optimism. He ends with a collective prayer of thanksgiving, a renewing of vows and a vision of joyous abandon before making a natural transition to the end of his own earthly journey and his arrival in the House of God where he will first seek out his beloved mother—i Mei—the acknowledged heart beating at the centre of the Khasi world. It is only appropriate that, after this man’s long journey in search of the resurrection and of enlightenment transcending time and doubt, that he should finally look for the one being to whom he owes the breath of life, to whom he was once joined by a life-giving cord—his mother. This is the quiet end towards which Ki Sngi Barim U Hynñiew Trep moves. The poet’s quest has come full circle—in his end is his beginning.

Season Of Gold

When in midnight black the land was wrapped

Truth was slow to reveal herself

Seven springs then journeyed down

From their waters man could drink

Slow slow the flooding of the light

As the Name of God was revealed to us

From among the Sixteen who dwelt above

Seven came to live below

To reveal the light of Holy Truths

Obscured by dust from new-formed worlds,

To emblazon the brow of “monkey, langur”

Give tongue and speech to tree and stone

Who lives and does not know of them

Eternal the light that is shed by their names

In the blaze of the sun or deep in her shadow

So we who come after shall never forget

That from the dawn of time unto its end

We are the children of the Hynñiew Trep

To you I give thanks, O Land of Mine

Land where silver rivers flow

Land where blooms the Amirphor

Whose vivid tones can never fade

Golden Flower from within whose depths

The heart receives and overflows

Multitudes teemed under heaven’s high vault

Across the land one tongue was heard

A homeland bound by one belief

Traditional colours displayed with pride

Commemoration observance celebration profound

Incomparable the rituals of our native land

Thus lived all those who have gone before

Whose laws were built on sacred writ

Though constant the threat from tiger and Thlen

Undefeated their souls, undiminished their hope.

But today we live in other times

Uncertain the journey of our people, our land

High on the hills, deep in the shade

When alone we walk refreshed becalmed

Tell me why O Land of mine

Why does unease disquiet my heart?

When all around I look to see

Why do I feel the ache of tears?

Our hills were our guardians in the past

Who will keep us from harm in days to come?

A down-coursing river is gathering force

A leaden-cloud mass is brooding ahead

But as it was then so tomorrow can be

If again for our homeland together we band

Breathe through us, O wind that blows

Once more that longing “to live for our land”

So once again the heavens will clear

And once again the stars we’ll see

The Star of Night becomes the Star of Light

And the Moon once more will rise for us

We share the same sun, same water and wind

In what way then are we different from others?

Sorrow, grief, laughter, joy

It is the same language we all speak

And as we toil to reach the summit

Those down below are human too

From furrows of paddy and beds of millet

A meal we’ll provide for the destitute Phreit

In numbers we’ll grow, become a discernible throng

With Justice and Truth enshrined in our midst

The sky will brighten to a peerless blue

Heralding the coming of a Golden Age

The Peacock will dance when the Sun returns1

And she will bathe in the Rupatylli2

O Rivers Rilang, Umiam and Kupli3

Sweet songs in you will move inspire

Land of Nine Roads, pathways of promise4

Where the Mole will strum, the Owl will dance5

In the Asorphi now forgotten gone6

Fires survive continue to burn

For the sake of our beloved Ri Khasi Ri Pnar7

O Lord to whom this world belongs

Together we’ll plough, thresh and build

Ascend from thatch to soaring peaks

From brink of waterfalls to verge of deep pools

In a place unknown I find myself

O Lum Shillong, Kyllang, Symper8

From you O Land could I ever take flight?

And when I reach the House of God

Of them I will ask—hangno i Mei?9

Listen to an audio recording of the poem at

1 A Khasi tale explaining the eyes on the tail of the Peacock who once upon a time lived in the sky with his wife the Sun. But one day as he looked down on the earth below he saw a golden-haired maiden with whom he instantly fell in love. He flew down only to discover that he had been captivated by a field of golden mustard. The foolish peacock was left heartbroken and realised he was doomed to live on earth forever. From that time onwards each morning the peacock danced at sunrise to greet his wife whose tears would fall on his outspread tail and became the eyes on the peacock’s tail.

2 The Surma, now in Bangladesh. Here it is compared to a necklace of solid silver.

3 Rivers in the Khasi and Jaiñtia Hills.

4 The Khasi word “lad” means both path, or road, as well as opportunity. As translating the phrase “Khyndai lad” as “Nine Roads” would not reflect the latter I added “pathways of promise” in order to better convey the full meaning of the original word.

5 Both the Mole and the Owl participate in a dance described in the legend of the Sacred Cave where the Sun hid her light to punish living creatures for casting doubt on her relationship with her brother the Moon.

6 Precious, treasured, related to the Persian word Asharfi, a gold coin issued by Persian Kings and the Mughals.

7Ri” here means land or homeland so “Ri Khasi Ri Pnar means the land or homeland of the Khasis and the Pnar. Interestingly “ri also means to take care, to tend carefully, to preserve.

8 Shillong Peak. Kyllang and Symper, see p. 47, n. 11.

9 Where is [my] mother (i Mei)? Though the poet does not use the pronoun “my”, the honorific “i” before “Mei (Mother) immediately indicates to the Khasi reader that the speaker is referring to his mother (as explained at the beginning of this section, the use of “i before “Mei conveys the reverential love Khasi daughters and sons feel for their mother).