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Mystery of an unknown woman

Aizawl: In the solemn precincts of a war cemetery, where the stories of valour and sacrifice are etched in stone, it is often the tomb of an unknown soldier that stirs the deepest emotions. Who was this unsung hero? Who were their loved ones left behind? These questions tug at our heartstrings, reminding us of the countless unnamed souls who gave everything for a cause greater than themselves.

But nestled in the serene town of Lawngtlai in southern Mizoram, a different kind of mystery shrouds a modest tombstone. Unlike the hallowed resting places of soldiers, this one does not belong to a warrior. Instead, it bears the memory of an ordinary woman, her identity shrouded in enigma.

The tale of this unknown woman unfolded on a fateful day, February 6, when a highly decomposed body was discovered near the roadside, just beyond the outskirts of Melthum (Three Miles) village, near Aizawl. At first, it was believed to be the remains of Zahleipari, a 28-year-old resident of Vengpui locality in Lawngtlai. Heartbreakingly, her own parents confirmed this tragic identification.

On February 9, Zahleipari was laid to rest in the peaceful confines of Vengpui locality’s cemetery. Little did anyone know that fate had played a cruel trick. On February 28, it was revealed that the body was not Zahleipari’s, as she was still alive, breathing in the world above.

The local Young Lai Association promptly alerted the police, pledging to exhume the body when the true identity of the woman was unveiled. As seven months passed with no one claiming the body, the local unit Young Lai Association erected the memorial stone on September 28 in  accordance with the traditions of the Mizo Christian community.

The epitaph on the tombstone whispers a poignant truth: ‘Here rests peacefully God’s Loved One whose identity and family remain unknown.’

Had the initial identification not falsely linked the body to Zahleipari, it might have found its final resting place at Riangvai Thlanmual. This cemetery, nestled on the outskirts of Aizawl, serves as a sanctuary for unclaimed souls. There, it would have quietly joined the company of countless others, without the distinction of a dedicated tombstone.

Back in 2019, the Aizawl Municipal Corporation had compassionately erected a grand memorial stone, a collective tribute to all the souls who had met their end and found their eternal repose within its hallowed grounds prior to that year.

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