We have Aizawl FC!

aizawl fc

While for many years, the Mizo people cheered at their TV screens from their living rooms, cheered in local neighbourhood fields for their pals, and in earlier years, kept their ears glued to the radio for sport updates, Mizoram now has Aizawl FC – the strong and mighty, the peoples club. 

 

A few decades back, the state was united because of the chaos created by outsiders – due to the state of ‘rambuai’, people had a reason to unite and fight. As years passed, freedom became too free and citizens were slowly getting wary of their identity, but the people’s club has brought a reason for the people to come together once again, to unite and fight, this times it’s a different fight – for one goal. The shopkeepers, the taxi drivers, the government officers, the journalists, the students, the daily wage labourers from the quarry, the beauticians, the gays, the heterosexuals, the singles, the married, the widowed and divorced, all become one in the stadium, standing involuntarily in the blink of a second when the football nears the goalpost of the red team. In the streets you are classified between the drunkards and the religious fanatics, the holy and the unholy, in the podium of Rajiv Gandhi stadium you are only one thing – a fan, and that’s all that matters for the next 90 minutes

 

The Mizoram Post asked a few spectators at the Aizawl FC vs. East Bengal Match on February 2 on what they enjoyed most about the game. Caroline Lalrosangi, a 23 year old fan said, “Firstly I love football and to be able to sit here with fellow Mizo’s rooting for one team is awesome. I almost teared up watching the people clapping together to the rhythm of the Aizawl FC song, the spirit was not just strong but also moving, causing an emotional nostalgia for the viewers,” she said.

 

Lalnunpuia had come all the way from Serchhip which is roughly around 4 to 5 hours from Aizawl city to watch the match, “That five hour ride was worth every minute, if possible I would come to Aizawl to watch every match. I’m a Manchester United fan and my sentiments get hurt when one speaks ill of the premier league club but having a club consisting of your very own people to support, the feeling is just really good,” he said.

 

I didn’t even know what a Mexican wave was, people were thrusting their hands up in the air so I just followed suit, it was a beautiful sight. Even when you looked around, there were people in every corner so fired up for a goal from the players, said Rinmuana, another spectator from among the Aizawl FC fans.

 

Even regarding cultural identity, the people of Mizoram are scattered all over India to seek greater chances at education and employment but at every corner of the country, the most common question posed to the Mizo is – Where is Mizoram, is that a part of China or is it around Nepal? To which one often has to proof with a map that Mizoram is indeed a state in India and has been so for the past thirty years. The ignorance of the people could owe to many reasons, one sadly being the Mizo people not making a mark enough to stand out and be heard in the nation’s ears. While there are educationists, social activists and well acclaimed musicians and leaders, they can also be found in most states of the country. But with football, its like Mizoram is saying – “Well here’s something that will get your attention folks!” Its like how Robert Downey Jr. said to Loki in the Avengers movies, “We have a hulk” in response to Loki’s “We have an army” warning, the Mizo people now can courageously say “We have the Aizawl FC” when anyone questions their identity in the country.

 

Aizawl FC has been on a winning streak this season and the number of people in the stands cheering for the team keeps increasing as the match on Monday had over ten thousand people all shouting for one goal from the team.  The club which is at No. 3 on the I-league table has played six times at home ground and won in 5 with one match being a draw. One could question, if this could be because it’s their training ground and it’s the altitude they are used to, or because there is power in the roaring cheer of the red flag holders echoing through the hills around Mualpui Stadium.

originally published in The Mizoram Post, February 22, 2017

picture from here

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An inside look at the life of a wife of a joint Mizo family

*A Women’s Day Special dedication

sad woman

If I was a powerful leader in the state, the first thing I would do is disintegrate the joint family system, said Lalnunpuii*, a 29 year old wife and mother residing in Aizawl city.

 

The joint family system of India is still very popularly practised in Mizoram with the sons residing with their wives, children and their parents in family homes.  While it looks all rosy and lively from the outside, it takes a few years to taste the bitter effects resulting from various adults with varied backgrounds living together under one roof and sharing their lives in the matter of a day.

 

It is said Mizoram is a shining example of gender equality with women taking up the market places and now sitting as heads of various department offices and educational institutions but at the end of the day, when these women close office and enter the doors of their homes. They become many things, a wife, a mother, a daughter in law, a sister in law, a home maker, a kitchen master and a person who makes sure the wall corners are web free, the cooking pots are glistening grease free, and the environment is dust free.

 

We have been married for seven years out of which we lived with his sisters for two years as they came to the city for further education and within these two years the love we built for five was destroyed. It is not that our love ended, but rather I could not bear to live a life gossiped, compared and complained of for one more day. Every effort I made went in vain. And to the parents, what their daughters say is accepted like the Bible while what we say is ignored like trash, said Lalmuanawmi* a 32 year old divorcee.

 

While there have been positive outcomes of such arrangements, a closer look at the families we know and see everyday majorly points to the negative. There are situations where two daughters-in-law with drastic differences in views of life and backgrounds are wedded to sons of one family.  One can put it this way, it is hard enough to adjust to a life as a wife vowed to a human you have never lived with, but in addition to that, women have to be the epitome of a daughter mothers never had, and when two women with opposite lifestyles have to do this in the same house, that calls for even more trouble.

 

I do not have a moment of relaxation, it’s either the baby or housework or cooking and then a little bit of sleeping. Waking up late or being backward in any work, and there is a string of complaints from the family members. I graduated from the University, I was working a good full time job, I was a happy independent woman in love with a man. But marriage changed everything, and there is no way to wish for a different situation as my husband is the youngest among his siblings. I have thought of divorce hundreds of times but I can’t get myself to do it because of our children, said Zomawiii*, a 35 year old full time housewife.

 

This is the case for mothers-in-law, we see the typical “Saas-Bahu” dramas in our much favoured Hindi serials and while we detest and laugh at these characters, we fail to see how much of these dramas are recreated in our own lives often by our very own doing. And the men have to note this, when a woman marries you, it does not end with her getting to spend her life with the love of her life, she goes through a life-changing transition. One day she wakes up as the jewel of her father’s eye, everything she says seems beautiful in her mother’s ears and another day she’s suddenly the object of speculation of a whole household.

 

Rinhlui*, a young and beautiful 27 year old mother of two said of her experience, “Sometimes it feels like to see me sit idle is a pain in my mother in law’s eyes. I have to be up and running all the time even if I am unwell. And to talk of these things with my husband would be talking ill of his family, so that’s a no-no. This is the fate I have to accept and live with everyday as a woman vowed to a man she loves.”

*names changed to protect identity

image from here

originally published in The Mizoram Post, March 9, 2017 Continue reading