Monday, June 22, 2009

The S word

No, not the sword. I'm talking about the S word. My late cousin who was a big fan of Kung fu movies used to have a long shiny sword. I don’t know where that sword came from; I don’t know what happened to it.

Let’s jump straight into the discussion without any more dilly dallying. The word here is “Senior,” as in “Nula Senior, Tlangval Senior.” I cannot see you but I can imagine the smile on your lips slowly turning into a snicker, and the raised eyebrows and the resigned look. You are thinking, oh just another Nula Senior ranting and raving about something that will never be changed and will never go away from the Mizo society, just another frustrated old maid who cannot catch a husband. Tell me, O great learned person with infinite wisdom, does my being old and/or state of singledom bother you so much that you have to turn it into a joke and use it for your entertainment? I know that you as an individual are not to be blamed; you have grown up in a society where old chestnuts about unmarried people above the age of twenty-five are considered acceptable and funny, but that still doesn’t make you any less guilty. You have willingly gone and signed up to be one of those uncivilized morons who take pleasure in making fun of others and their marital status, which in my books makes you as guilty as Cain. I am not trying to change the society or raise any propaganda here, just airing a few of my opinions.

Let’s admit it, we’ve all laughed at Senior jokes, and even cracked a few ourselves. No self respecting Mizo comedian will do his act without telling something about the lady who was so old even God called her “Ka Pi,” or the lady who was so old her breast milk expired, etc etc. And every so-called jokes section in any of the million local magazines will feature Senior jokes from time to time. I can’t exactly figure out what is so funny about someone being unmarried because of their personal choice or because of circumstances, and I hope you agree with me when I say the people who love these jokes the most will most probably be the same ones who would get offended the easiest if such jokes were directed at them. Does that imply I've laughed my head off at such jokes? Not really. I admit I've laughed, but you’d never catch me saying such insensitive things and trying to pass them off as jokes, sad unfunny jokes.

And the unfunniest part? I am not old at all, at least I don’t consider myself to be. Sure, if you are at that age where twenty five is old and/or are still under the impression that people who’ve hit a quarter century are old fashioned outdated relics from another era, thirty may look and sound ancient. I may not speak in your lingo or type in your incomprehensible language or listen to your music, but if you think that qualifies me as “old” and “Senior”, all I can say to you is, just you wait, your turn will come, nobody gets younger, and the time will come when youngsters laugh at you and everything you do.

Even worse than the young unrefined hooligans are the older lot. You know them, the middle aged men with their paan-stained teeth and ugly potbellies, wearing wrinkly T-shirts or kurtas with big track pants that make irritating scrunchy sounds, sitting on street corners smoking and passing comments on female passers-by. These are the same guys you see on TV and the same guys publishing those innumerable magazines, the guys who think an unmarried woman is the ultimate fodder for their sad little TV shows and even sadder magazines.

To the scholars out there, when and how did this ridicule of “Senior” people first began in the Mizo society? Any idea on this? Can you enlighten us? I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, and I would sure like to know how people achieved satisfaction from mocking their fellow human beings and embarrassing them, making them hesitate to go to any public gathering because of the label attached, heaping upon them an unwanted self consciousness, and making them withdraw into themselves. I would love to know how the brains of these morons are wired; did they ever put themselves in the shoes of the people they laugh at, did they ever stop to think Senior people are also human beings with feelings and emotions? Are they so numbed, so insensitive to everything that they cannot comprehend how their “jokes” might actually hurt the sentiments of others?

I've seen Mizo people from all walks of life, from the most intelligent to the most uneducated, pass these Senior comments. And I've also been on the receiving end many times, and trust me, it’s no picnic. There you are with a bunch of people doing whatever it is that Mizo people do when they hang out in groups and you don’t know something or have never heard of someone, and suddenly out of thin air comes that remark “Oh he/she is too old to know such thing.” That really hurts. You are immediately self conscious of everything you do from then on, think a hundred times before you say anything, and most likely would never go again to such gatherings.

I think I’ll stop now before I reach a thousand words, but let me say this just once more - Senior jokes are not funny at all. You too can be a subject, so please think twice before you speak and remember, even unmarried people too have feelings that can get hurt.


  1. Yeah, some of our 'jokes' are remarkable for being unfunny and insensitive.

    Btw, i was called 'nula upa' from age 18. It really was no fun.

  2. But at 18 you're still just a girl! That is truly unfair. I guess in some way we, I mean our generation, are slightly better off than you, at least at 18 nobody called us old.

  3. Fuuny but just the other day I was thinking about cultural humour, and how different cultures seem to have jokes that aren't particularly funny to anyone else. The Senior joke must be one that exists only in the Mizo culture because I can't think of any other culture that makes their elders the butt of ridicule. Perhaps they're a reaction to the tradition of revering val-upas. Not that I ever heard of any respect being paid to their female counterparts though.

  4. Ka thil vei deuh i ron sawi chhuak.. good!

    Its true that we hurt other's sentiments, and believe me, i know some who don't even want to attend church, esp K.T.P service, because they don't want to be mocked at,and be called 'senior'.

    I once commented in my friend's blog, that "its the quality that matters" and told her not to mind them calling her "senior".

    Let's just leave people as they are! Seriously, what do we gain from it??

  5. What or who inspired you to write this? hehehhe..

    Don't worry about what everyone else thinks about. I just turned 30 last month. It's not a big deal.I never worry about age.

    Senior vang hian advantage kan nei ve teuh a nia, mipa tan thlanlaihnaah..:) Hyd ah hian kei aia upa zawk min u an awm thin..ka nui ru var var thin..tin, ka kum min zawt se, ka insawi upa deuh ziah..mak lutuk, nuam ka ti tlats..:)

  6. J – Revering the val-upas is fine, but the part I cannot understand is the ridicule of their female counterparts. Does this mean our ancestors were in a way to blame? No, we cannot escape so easily by saying that, they might have started it, but we have gleefully continued with this shameful practice and caused much embarrassment and humiliation to our elders instead of giving them the proper respect they deserve.

    Mimi – Rightly spoken. Many of the older ladies stop going to KTP activities because of this exact same reason – they are mocked at and hurtful and sarcastic comments are thrown their way. Who in their right minds would want to continue going to such gatherings where they know the response they get would not be too welcoming? It’s about time we drop this nasty habit and just leave people as they are, as you rightly said.

    Taite – It’s not about age, it’s about the insensitivity of the Mizo people – young or old – to certain unmarried individuals. Agreed age is not a big deal, but it’s not a nice feeling being treated like a historical object once you’ve crossed a certain age. Mipa hi chu heti lamah hi chuan in vannei alawm, tlangval senior jokes sawi tur I hre tam miah loving.

  7. Huiham. "leng leng ang aw, leng tar law law ang.." hla thu te pawh hi a diklo a nilo maw!. Aizawl ah hiam Matrimonials kan mamawh tawh! ti daih teng :)

  8. Aduh ka nau, upa la in ti suh, ka nau i nih kha, i in la upa mai mai nih kha.

  9. vana - intih upat loh ngial pawh tum ila mi hian i upa i upa min tih reng chuan engtin nge ni ang?

  10. Pssst... Let people say whatever they like as long as you feel good of yourself, its not a big deal. They don't know the secret happiness of being Senior... tch tch tch...

  11. I was thinking of a different S word when I read the topic, but I guess this'll do.. hehe..
    The more you think about it, the more it gets in your head. Live is too short to waste time and ponder on such thoughts.
    I know its hard facing discrimination by your own people, but that which does not kill you makes you stronger... kinda cliche' but its true.

  12. Varte - great advice! Let's see if I can turn a deaf ear and ignore all these wonderful remarks.

    blackestred - yeah life is too short to worry about what people think of us, but again that's life, right?