Remains of the Past: History, Diary, and Collective Memory of the Battle of Kohima, 1944

By K B VeioPou

The Second World War made huge impact to the Nagas living in some quiet corners of India’s Northeast. When it finally made its way into the Naga Hills towards the beginning of 1944 the Nagas rudely woke up to a realization of what war could do to humanity. For the British the victory over the invading Japanese forces following the Battle of Kohima was ‘the most decisive’ one as it turned the tide of the war. Many historical accounts have been written about it, but have largely remained military accounts. When Easterine Kire’s Mari (2010) was published, it became an eye opener for many as it tells how the people of Kohima experienced a war that was not of their making and yet changed their lives forever. This paper will largely focus on why Mari is important not just for its depiction of the struggle of a death defying girl but for its historical account from a native perspective of the war. In addition this paper will also engage with another book, The Battle of Kohima (2007), a collection of stories from those who survived the war and what it meant to experience it. A relook at these narratives is important in the re-imagination of the past events and how such events shape the lives of individuals who lived through it.

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