Dimapur, August 17 (NEx): Let’s get up close in knowing something interesting that has caught the attention throughout India in making Nagaland proud for past three years through writing skills.
Aboli T Wotsa, three times consecutive winner in the national letter writing competition organised by the Department of Posts, Government of India, shares on her journey and experiences exclusively to NagalandExpress.
*Tell us first about your journey into writing since childhood?
My journey of writing since childhood..Well! Up till the 5th standard, I can only recollect creative writing activities within the classroom, initiated by my teachers. Back then, when I was a student of Livingstone Foundation Higher Secondary School, (Dimapur) now Livingstone Foundation International, our English teacher, Sir Christopher, assigned us homework in his subject. We were asked to write the answer of a certain text question on our own. After reading the entire class answers, he particularly favoured my answer and requested me to stand up and read my answer in front of my classmates, he then asked my classmates to read my answer again and learn from it. That incident was my first motivation. Besides, we were taught to write letters to our parents, the school did undertake the task of sending the letters. My mother still has my first letter.
*Participation in writing competition during Childhood?
Being a student of LFHSS then, the window of opportunity to nurture our talent was amazing. The School believed in the all-round development of a child. Academics and extra-curricular activities went hand-in-hand. I remember being especially interested in the literary activities like essay competition, extempore, elocution, quiz, debate & thought, etc.
By God’s grace, I did win literary prizes aplenty. I can humbly say that most of the time I secured the first prize. Winning in the writing competitions of the inter-house, inter-school and inter-district events encouraged me to always do my best.
But the turning point in my life was when I was studying in the 11th standard. The National Children’s Science Congress, Department of Science and Technology, Govt of India selected my project ‘Indigenous methods of making Sumi-Naga traditional dress’ as one of top ten best projects in the country, the competition was held at Kolkatta. 18 of us child scientists (Co-workers included) visited Germany to attend the Young Researchers Indo-German Exchange Programme.
*Support from family & friends;
The support I receive from my family and friends is amazing. Each time I win an accolade, be it a small or big achievement, they are the first to applaud. My husband is extremely supportive of all my endeavours. Whenever I have a writing task, he makes sure that I complete it on time. The love and prayers of my family and friends have always led me to victory.
*Such writing habit are very rare: who is your inspiration?
There are many inspiring writers but I draw inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore and William Shakespeare. Closer to home, I am inspired by the writings of poet, author and Journalist Monalisa Changkija, poet Tialila Kikon, poet and author Theyie Keditsu, poet Emisenla Jamir and writer Dr. Elika S Assumi. I am privileged to say that they are my colleagues, their writings have taught me so much. One must read their poems, stories and write-ups.
*Preparation for this contest;
Once the Dhai Akhar Letter Campaign theme is declared by the Govt.of India, usually a three month time period is given for the writing and submission. The deadline must be taken seriously. Being a teacher and home-maker, I had to cleverly juggle my responsibilities and personal goal-targets. So, I applied the same golden rules during the three years – 1. Mental preparation. 2. Putting thoughts into words. 3. Reading books, write-ups and journals relevant to the theme. 4. After a thorough analysis, the final letter (1000 words) is written neatly on the A-4 size paper and submitted to the Post office in an embossed envelope.
For this third letter, I put in a lot of effort keeping in mind the gravity of the campaign. Each year, the competition gets tougher and the number of participants increase too. When you are writing about Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Indian nation, you have to be prudent regarding the historical facts and figures, there is no room for error. Besides, it is a letter to someone who has left this world, leaving his legacy behind. I have always admired him, so writing a letter to the late Bapu was a Labour of Love.
*Do you know anyone who are into writing habit;
Yes, the Wordsmithereens, The Nagaland chapter of the North East Writers’ Forum. A team of dedicated writers who write from their hearts. Some of Nagaland’s finest poets and authors are in this circle.
*Advise to the people in this field;
I have a message to the youngsters – especially to the student community. In this era of digital technology, please do not lose sight of the good things in life, try to read good books and practice writing. It maybe a simple poem, speech or essay but it will help you develop writing skills as well as the art of communication. Today, you may win a prize within the walls of your School but tomorrow, you can make international headlines, nothing is impossible to the determined. Reading does not only enable one to become a writer but also sparks the inclination of leadership within.
*What is your future plans after winning three times in a row.
After winning the Dhai Akhar Letter Writing Campaign for three times in a row, I am extremely humbled and grateful to Almighty God for His abundant grace.
When the coast is clear, I do plan on a follow-up, I definitely will encourage students and aspiring writers to participate in the Annual Dhai Akhar Letter Campaign. I would love to see my fellow-Naga brothers and sisters win this prestigious award in the near future.Thankyou.
It is pertinent to note that such a person are a jewel in the society who can shape a society needless to say further. And below is the first prize winning letter written by Wotsa;
DEAR BAPU,YOU ARE IMMORTAL…
(This letter won the first prize at the National Dhai Akhar Letter Writing Campaign, envelope category(1000 words) North-east level, 2019-2020)
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”- Bruce Lee.
Dear Bapu, you inspire me, I am spell-bound.You spoke the Universal language of love.You are a beautiful star that never stops twinkling.Generations have come and gone, still, your name echoes in the hearts of all.Your magnificent story is shared in the fire-hearth of every home, whispered into the ears of children.Young and old, we adore you, oh! Bapuji.
Tell me, how can a man of mere flesh and blood remain immortal? Man is mortal, isn’t he? Bapu, your graceful mother birth you a normal baby boy, not one with super-natural powers.You walked the earth an ordinary human being, didn’t you? And yet, a legend you have become. Perhaps you were destined by God to carry the ‘Torch of freedom’ for your people.The light of an ordinary torch blinks away in due time but the Light of Freedom shines eternally.
“And yet this generation that had seen him and touched him and knew him somewhat, will pass away. Indeed it is passing already. He will be remembered then by records and writings and by tradition which plays an important part in the history of a race. He belongs not only to history but to the myth and legend of India.”-Jawaharlal Nehru, September 1,1952.
In a world of change, certain things change not. Bapuji, who knew then, that ‘Ahimsa’ (Non-violence) would be regarded priceless today.The philosophy you dearly held on to with all your being, yes, you walked the talk.You were one of the greatest and humblest leaders of our country. The values you taught diligently, timeless values like kindness, patience, forgiveness and persistence never fail to gain victory against all odds. We salute you!
You believed in Non-violence in an era of violence, hatred and suspicion.You saw a light at the end of the tunnel when all else saw darkness.In such turbulent times, you held your head high when all hung in shame and confusion. Bapu, you used the weapon of Ahimsa to free India from the British rule.You firmly stood upon this principle while resisting the British tyranny during the Indian Independence movement.Civil disobedience was founded upon Ahimsa.
“That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.”-Swami Vivekananda. Bapu, you sought not fame nor wealth when you, along with all patriots, leaders and commoners gently revolted to save the soil and children of our Motherland, whose heart hath bled profusely, not in blood but in agony to the suffering and injustice meted out to her offsprings. In a weary and feigned period, you stood unperturbed. India today is happy, free and proudly distinct amongst other nations because of you.The world admires your nobility and courage.Your ideology was adopted by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela for their own struggles.You once quoted, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”Yes, you did.
You bravely advocated for the civil rights of Indians, against racial discrimination in South Africa. What was meant to weaken you strengthened you instead.Had you not stood your ground adamantly, all goodness would have been buried deep into the earth, and our people bound in chains. From the wealthiest to the lowliest, all call you ‘Bapuji’, ‘Great Mahatma’, ‘Father of the Nation’.You believed that at the core of every religion was truth: truthfulness in speech and thought. Your heart grieved with others in their sorrow and rejoiced with them in their happiness.You gave hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, wisdom to the illiterate and love to the unprivileged.
A decade ago, I visited the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad. As I stepped into your old home, I was flooded with joy and pride, I was tremendously inspired by your once personal belongings and the large pictures of your life which were immaculately displayed. My eyes welled with tears, Bapu, you were indeed a great man. Your trademark- a simple dhoti and shawl, spectacles and a walking stick, however humble, you became our knight in shining armour.You refrained from worldly pleasures, rather chose to contribute your intelligence, faith and vision for the country. I loved your autobiography, ‘My experiments with truth’. I deeply understood your life and vision, the sacrifices for a great cause. Gandhian Peace studies have been included in the curriculum of schools and universities. Who better to learn from? Of peace, unity and patriotism.
You once said, “ Where there is life, there is love.” You were the epitome of strength and goodness. A political leader, a renowned freedom activist, yet a kind fatherly figure. Bapu, your spinning cloth on the Charkha, the historic Satyagraha movement and Dandi March inspire me, also your desire to identify with the poor masses through your humble dress code. You were a true son of the Indian soil, tales of your greatness will live. The cord of peace and unity of this world has been cruelly treaded upon, but Bapu, you taught us well, we will gently fight with love.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, your first lesson in non-violence was taught within the walls of your home by your father. Bapu, in order to help one brother, you stole a hit of gold of the other brother. But your guilt led you in writing a letter to your ailing father asking for forgiveness and promising that you would never steal again.You expected to be punished but your father tearfully forgave you from his sickbed.This lesson changed your life and the course of India’s history.
“It is right that our children and our children’s children should know something of this story which has a certain epic quality about it. Even though they may miss the living presence.”- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (Foreword on Begum Qudsia Zaidi’s book on Bapu)
Bapu, you fulfilled your life’s mission in excellence. In your untimely death, the world mourned like never before. Decades have passed but you continue to live in our hearts.Mother India celebrates her annual glorious Independence Day on 15th August, Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated on 2nd October. The Govt. of India annually awards the International Gandhi Peace Prize. ‘One of great soul’…you remain a noble son of India, an iconic leader to the world. Bapu, truly, you are immortal…
Writer’s note: I am profoundly grateful to my family members, friends, all well-wishers and the media team for the magnanimous love and support I have received on winning the Dhai Akhar Letter Writing Campaign. I would like to thank the Department of Posts, Nagaland Division and especially mention Mr.Imti Imsong for efficiently co-ordinating the events.
I am grateful to the family of New Life Bible College and the Ghokimi community for their constant love and prayers. I lovingly thank Livingstone Foundation International, the school where I wrote my first letter and won my first literary prize. I thank the Wordsmithereens, the Nagaland Chapter of the North East Writers’ Forum, a team of fine writers who inspire me everyday.
The road to Dhai Akhar victory has been an incredible journey, I’m truly humbled, God bless.