The Rain-Maiden and the Bear-Man
Author: Easterine Kire
Illustrated by Sunandini Banerjee
9780857426185 | HB | pp. 88 | 2021 | Seagull Books
This is a collection of beautifully illustrated stories which make Nagaland comes alive with a rich portrayal of both the natural and the spiritual world, which, to the Naga mind, harmoniously coexisted until the recent past.
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The Bear-Man finds love in the beautiful and compassionate Rain-Maiden but thinks he would never be good enough for her. He thinks that if he reveals his true feelings she would ridicule him like everyone else in his life. So he grows gruff and grumpy, believing that he could never find true love . . .
The other stories in this collection represent oral narratives from the people of Nagaland in North-East India, stories shared privately around a glowing hearth–spirit stories that the narrators swear are true encounters. While ‘Forest Song’, ‘New Road’, ‘River and Earth Story’, and ‘The Man Who Lost His Spirit’ were narrated to the author by local storytellers, ‘The Man Who Went to Heaven’ and ‘One Day’ are entirely based on Naga folktales. ‘The Weretigerman’, meanwhile, is woven around the pre-Christian Naga tradition of certain men becoming dual-souled with the tiger.
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