Before we go any further let me get this straight – all Mizos are badasses. Although we may not be the snake-eating-burmese-oppressing-martial arts experts the rest of the world think of us to be, we can hold our own against any force of evil that be against us. But even in a tribe of badasses, you get the super-badasses, those badasses whose asses are so bad that they need special mention in a super-cultured blog as this. The members of the badass Hall of Fame if you may. And in that Hall of Fame, the flame of Ropuiliani will forever forever burn brightly in honor of the great service she, yes, it’s a she – did in maintaining the badass image of the Mizos.
Before we go into the badassness of Ropuiliani, we have to delve a bit into the life of her ancestors to illustrate the kind of badass blood that flowed through the veins of this great She-chief.
Her father Vanhnuailiana is probably one of the greatest Mizo chiefs of all time. Like all real badasses, nobody knows the exact year of his birth. He came from a long line of badass royals. His great-grandfather was a wily tactician named Lallula who masterminded a plan to lure the tormentors of his people with the promise of food, wine and bounty and then kill all of them minus 3. History will forever remember that day as ‘Thlanrawn Rawt’. Like all real men, Lallula has several sons and daughers and the eldest was named Lalpuiliana. Curiously, Lalpuiliana was sick quite often. Now, you might argue that no badass worth his salt would ever spawn a weakling that gets sick all the time. However you must remember that this was a time when the only cure you have for any disease is to cut a chicken in half and offer the blood to some animistic god and hope for a miracle. Therefore, if you managed to spawn a creature that can survive its infancy, you are officially a badass.
Lallula was not only badass, he was also a cool dad.
Since Lalpuiliana was usually not in the best state of health, his dad was concerned his firstborn might croak before he got laid. He therefore arranged a bride for him and from his choice of daughter-in-law, you can tell Lallula shares no cerebral genes with Paris Hilton.
Mizoram back in those days was far from the much touted ‘most peaceful state in India’ it is today. People would frequently attack the neighboring villages without any reason. They would go out in small groups and wait for the SOBs on their way to their fields and chop off their heads. One minute you are flirting with the village hottie, the next minute your head is carried away by some psycho who thinks your severed head is his passport to paradise. Since this is the kind of workplace hazards they have to put up with, no woman will ever go to the fields without male escort. In fact, during high alert days, guys will even escort the ladies to the toilet which, in those days was basically the clearing just beyond the village. The people, especially the women are constanly in a state of fear.
Now, our bride-to-be is quite different in that respect. She has this strange habit of spending the night sleeping in some makeshift hut back at the plantation. Alone!! Considering the fact that there is a danger of not only wild-ass people chopping off your dome and parading it around town, there is a real danger of being mauled by tigers or bears (in your sleep or while you are awake. It doesn’t matter, it hurts both ways). If you put this in today’s terms, borrowing from that Pineapple Express movie, if that bride character in Kill Bill has a kid with Conan the Barbarian and meanwhile that Lara Croft babe has a baby with that Van Helsing dude and by some conincidence those to babies met, and f@#ked, you’ll get our bride-to-be. So, yeah, she’s badass. Btw, her name is Khuangtiali.
Now it is clear that Lallula could select virtually any girl for his son, himself being the top dog and all. One has to wonder why he chooses the girl with the biggest Sarah Connor complex. But Lalpuiliana wasn’t complaining – at least now he’s getting some.
But that’s not the best thing about this marriage.
Lallula built a separate house for his daughter-in-law and Lalpuiliana would only go there at night for you know what and return before dawn. If you can do the ‘no-pants-dance’ every now and then without worrying about the cuddlin’ and the psychological manipulation that comes with your run-of-the mill-marriage, your life is pretty much better than the rest of the world. The result of this awesome arrangements is two kids named Lalpuiliana and Vanhnuaithangi.
It is said that Khuangtiali never really saw her husband clearly during her lifetime. This is probably true considering the fact that nobody uses any lantern or torch at night during those days and he went to her only after dark. In fact, there is a rumor that Lalpuilaina’s friends would occasionally go to Khuangtiali and do his ‘work’ without him knowing, of course. Lalpuiliana came to know about this rumour but after thinking about it for a while, he decided to let it slide. They were his friends after all. A classic example of bros before hos.
Lallula is way ahead of his time in medicine. He would not allow Lalpuiliana to touch his children because he was afraid his disease might be contagious. That way, he ensures the badass lineage does not end because of one guy who couldn’t even find his own wife. Long story short, Lalpuiliana grew up, got married and had a son named Vanhnuailiana who happens to be the father of Ropuiliani.
Like his ancestors before him, Vanhnuailiana was a wise and brave chief. He was also the guy who started the whole extended holiday stuff in Mizoram. Previously, the Mizos would work all year round on the fields without any rest or holiday except for the occasional festival. Vanhnuailiana realized that if they work smarter, they could still complete the work they currently do and still have time to rest for a month or so each year. The people were thrilled at the idea and put it to use almost immediately. This is the story behind Favang Awllen as we know it today. People everywhere flocked to his village to live under his wise and able leadership. He had many brave men at his disposal, including the legendary Vana Pa – a bad tempered dillhole turned super nice guy. Vanhnuailiana must have also done something badass to impress the British because the great General Lord Roberts even named his horse Vonolel after him. (Personally, I’m not sure sharing your name with an animal that is bred for the sole purpose of lugging people around, receiving the occasional whip on the ass and one that never had a wet bath in its lifetime is such a great tribute. But the only thing that’s ever being named after me is an ingrown toenail, so what do I know?)
On to the story of Ropuiliani
Life started innocuously for Ropuiliani. Her prince charming was this dude named Vandula. Everyone was pumped up for this marriage and they were like the Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman of 19th Century Mizoram. But in this real life soap opera, the role of Katie Holmes was played by the grim reaper himself and Vandula soon kicked the bucket, which was kind of cool in a way because as we all know, the life expectancy of women is usually shorter than that of men and the fact that she outlived her husband by a few decades does not do her badass reputation any harm. A hundred Badassness points to the chieftess. She then took over the throne from her husband and ruled with a firm but loving hand.
In the late 19th Century, another badass chief by the name of Bengkhuaia decided to slow the territorial expansion of the British by threatening a few people working in the tea estates around Cachar. Along with several of his braves, he went and cause general havoc by destroying a few plantations and dismembering a few workers. In the process he took home with him a little English girl named Mary Winchester. The British were pissed.
After a round of tea, the British discussed the possibility of instilling some old school British discipline to the poor wankers and kick their collective arse. Then one of them stood up and said they could use the kidnapping as an excuse to occupy the region. Say you are going to look for the kid, make some threats, let them surrender to Imperial Rule and Bob’s your uncle. Everyone agreed the idea was smashing and they congratulated the old boy for the jolly good show. So, on 16th December 1871, they organized their men, put on their wigs, stiffened their upper lips and headed off looking for the little girl, Tally Ho!!
The Mizos were gracious enough to return the kid to the British. However, the Brits had another agenda. They issued a decree that every village should pay tribute and agree to a certain number of days of free labor as a symbol of submitting to the Crown. They also warned that serious action will be taken against those who disobey their orders. Now this was a time when British threat still mean something. So many Mizo chiefs started surrendering to the British.
But this shit did not fly with the Chieftess. Did a bunch of wig-wearing, warm-beer-drinking, bad toothed white-assed crackers just tell her to give them something which was rightfully theirs? And that too on her own backyard?
Oh no they di’hn’t!!
So she told the British dillholes to take their tea set and bugger off.
It was on, baby! It was f#&kin on!!
She started thinking of ways to kick the British arses all the way back to the Queen Mother (actually the Queen Mother wasn’t born yet. But why let fact get in the way of a good story right?). She proposed three main course of action:
1. Destroying all means of communication.
2. Destroying all bridges and boats, thereby hampering transport and supplies.
3. Ambushing the British whenever possible.
But before they could complete the assignment, the Brits came to know about the plan and sent a guy by the name of Captain J.Shakespear to arrest our Chieftess. So, Shakey went with a few hundred men and arrested Ropuiliani on one charge of murder and 2 charges of awesome badassery. The chieftess was getting quite old this whole time. She was sentenced to life in prison, shifted to Chitaggong Prison and died within 2 years.
Ropuiliani loved her subjects and resisted the British invasion because she felt they were exploiting her people. While most of the Mizo chiefs were too scared to resist the white men, she grew a pair and resisted the British rule till the end. She was both a chief and a mother to her subjects which was also pretty cool.
(Credit where credit’s due. This post is inspired to a huge extent by the original Badass of the Week. Check it out for more badass stuff)