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Rambuai Literature: A Narrative of Conflict, Loss, and Redemption

 A non-MNF perspective: Dr C Lalawmpuia Vanchiau unveils revised edition of his acclaimed book on Mizoram’s insurgency era.

Front and back cover of the book Rambuai Literature

Aizawl: Troubled times have often served as fertile ground for the creation of great literature. Throughout history, periods of turmoil, conflict, and social unrest have provided writers with inspiration to explore profound themes and articulate the human experience in compelling ways. In the face of adversity, authors have drawn upon their observations, emotions, and reflections to produce works that resonate deeply with readers.

Rambuai literature holds a position in Mizoram similar to that of Partition literature in India. Rambuai, which translates to ‘troubled times’, refers to the period of insurgency in Mizoram from 1966 to 1986, characterised by an independence movement led by the Mizo National Front.

Within the realm of Rambuai, a rich collection of literature has emerged, encompassing both fiction and non-fiction works, as well as songs. The majority of these literary works have been centred around the narratives of the MNF.

Dr C Lalawmpuia Vanchiau, then a young post-graduate in English literature from the University of Hyderabad, recognised the pressing need to broaden our comprehension of the insurgency period in Mizoram. He sought to provide a comprehensive account from a non-MNF perspective, aiming to challenge the one-sided view prevalent at that time.

“Changing our perspective on Rambuai and overcoming the limitations of a biased viewpoint was a formidable task,” said Vanchiau, author of the non-fiction book Rambuai Literature, an indepth study on the Mizoram Rambuai.  

After a span of nine years since its initial publication, Vanchiau proudly unveiled the revised and enlarged edition of his book at the charming Book Cafe in Aizawl, on Friday (July 14).

“I am delighted to find  that my book had become a valuable resource for research in esteemed academic institutions such as the School of Humanities, the School of Social Sciences, and the Mass Communication departments at Mizoram University. 

“It was heartening to learn that research scholars from renowned Indian universities such as JNU, DU, and my cherished alma mater, the University of Hyderabad, had also turned to my book for their scholarly pursuits. Beyond my wildest dreams, my book has even found a place in the hallowed corners of the Harvard University library,” Vanchiau expressed with genuine amazement.

“Initially, I had no intentions of revising or expanding my book. However, over the course of these nine years, numerous publications on Mizoram Rambuai have emerged. This compelled me to incorporate additional updates into my book,” he shared.

Dr Malsawmliana (right) unveils the book at Book Cafe on Friday with the author on his right.

The mesmerising 549-page opus immerses readers into the depths and intricacies of the ‘Mizo national movement’, divided into eight parts.
In a tapestry woven by the annals of global conflicts, the Mizo Rambuai emerges as a force with ardent supporters and steadfast detractors, a realm of hardliners juxtaposed with those seeking a harmonious middle path. Within this realm lie profound questions, harbouring multitudes of answers—questions of why, where, who the true victims were, and who should bear the weight of responsibility. As with any conflict, a silenced voice remains, shrouded in shadows and rarely given prominence. It is this very voice that the book dares to resurrect, offering a judicious panorama of perspectives.
The Rambuai Literature serves as an evocative narrative, recounting the tales of victims from both sides. Its pages peel back the layers, shedding light on the enigmatic figures ensnared within the clutches of the Mizo National Front. The spotlight falls upon those branded as Kawktu, the ill-fated informants entangled in treacherous webs, their loyalty questioned and scorned. With a stroke of literary genius, the book unveils a fresh perspective on these Kawktu.
It is in this literary masterpiece that Khawkhawm, an epoch considered the most mournful chapter in Mizoram’s history, finds poignant mention. Although Khawkhawm, a counter-insurgency tactic employed by the Indian Army, is widely regarded as one of the cruelest measures, the author ingeniously presents an alternative viewpoint—a glimmer of positivity amidst the darkness. The narrative reveals how the amalgamation of villages through Khawkhawm ushered in a wave of progress, transforming these united communities into bastions of development, surpassing their ungrouped counterparts in the years that followed.
The book also includes a collection of 59 Rambuai songs and poems, adding to its richness.
Dr C Lalawmpuia Vanchiau’s Rambuai Literature has garnered immense popularity as a non-fiction work on the Mizoram Insurgency. It stands out as the most sought-after publication on the subject to date. The book has received extensive reviews from prominent Mizo literary figures, including the late Lalhmingliana Saiawi, Mafaa Hauhnar, and several others. Its impact and influence in the Mizo literary community are truly remarkable.

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