It is believed that the only way the Khasi people could learn of God s word was by passing on the stories of their forefathers. The alphabet of the great Khasi tribe of North-East India was born as late as in 1842, when Thomas Jones, a Welsh Presbyterian missionary, introduced the Roman script to form the essentials of the Khasi written word. But long before the white man came, the Khasis knew agriculture, trade, commerce and industry. And they were also masters of storytelling. Theirs was a society of great wisdom and civilized conduct at a time when brute force held sway. For theirs was a culture that worshipped God through respect for both man and nature. Perhaps that is why Khasi stories always begin with When man and beasts and stones and trees spoke as one . . . How did the great storytelling tradition of the Khasis survive so long without a script? Putting together myths and legends peopled by deities and poor folk, speaking trees and talking tigers, the sun and the moon and everything below bilingual poet and writer Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih describes how fables of love and jealousy, hate and forgiveness, evil and redemption inform the philosophy, moral principles and daily activities of his community even today.
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