Yesuq Khärisätuq, Ähia shäx? (“Tase Naga” translates into– Welcome Jesus, how are you?) was traditionally and warmly phrased in greeting by a group of people residing at the Dibrugarh Missionary Diocese (Assam) to the ‘twin missionaries’ from our parish, Fr. Allwyn Nazareth and Fr. Magi Murzello.

These people may merely comprise of half-tenth of the total population of the tribe, famously, the TANG-SA. They’re scattered in thousands all over Assam and Arunachal Pradesh (the places visited) and sprinkled lightly in Myanmar. Focusing back to the Dibrugarh Diocese, which houses a handful of the Tang-Sa, it is orchestrated by the Pilar Fathers (Francis Xavier Society) and headed by Fr. Avon Vaz – who very enthusiastically looks at fulfilling the practices of educating the youth, rehabilitation and the provision of higher studies within the premise – all in a 5-10 year margin. Overlooking its positive futuristic growth, I’d like to centre on what flourishes there at present.

I note that our ‘twin missionaries’ had visited Dibrugarh to conduct workshops and youth formation programs particularly for the youth of the tribe and thereby get a minor idea of their way of life. But like a significant change in the nature of a musical scale, the latter changed from a minor to a major profound impact on their idea of the practice of life. On talking to Fr. Allwyn, I give myself the right to jot down his descriptions.

Living in extreme poverty, with moody climates and heavily erratic rainfall, they manage to see a light reflecting selflessness towards praise and worship and to each other. The condition of poverty is such that a daily meal consists of bamboo shoot; and if lucky, then rice to marry with it. Their houses are built with bamboos, without the shoot of course. Uniquely, every family unit keeps a mixed breed mountain dog for companionship and security. As loyal as their beastly friend is to them, they are to each other as a community. This proof lies in their actions. Every four years, due to relentless natural conditions, they break down and rebuild each other’s home. Practically living on the mains of life, they still depart with what they have for those who come to visit them.

I now take the liberty to bullet two obvious yet essential “Missions” exemplified by the Tang-Sa.

  • Caring for what is natural around us, something more easily achievable by not living in excess.
  • Selflessness towards each other, individually and collectively.

George Bernard Shaw rightly said, “Now that we have learned to fly the air like birds, swim under the water like fish, we lack one thing – to learn to live on earth as human beings.”

I plea to every eye reading this text – Being 2018, if we cannot inculcate something as simple and basic as these points above in our daily life, let us at least make ourselves aware of their importance by twinning these “missions” in us and having them, stationed.

By Graham D’Souza