After Kasa Akhava (in Tangkhul Naga this literally means the Creator) had initially created the earth with beautiful land and turbulent sea, he also created all the creatures including the highest creation, called ‘Man’ to inhabit the earth. In his wisdom, he decided that he would provide a big ball of fire to give light and warmth to the earth, but he wanted his creatures to determine the duration of day and night. So he eventually summoned the creatures to find out their opinion.

Kasa Akhava addressed the assembly with a deep sense of fulfilment and compassion towards all the creatures who were before him. He invited opinions from the members of his creation as to the details of the duration of the day and night. For a long time, nobody spoke, and there was pin-drop silence. Apparently the creatures were overawed seeing Kasa Akhava himself but the silence was at last broken by a tiny-eyed Mole who suggested that the duration of the night should be one year each. Immediately there was a tumultuous noise among the creatures protesting against the unrealistic proposal. “How can one work one year and sleep another year?” they protested. Some of the proposals were drowned in the din of the uproar. The parrot was the most vehement in opposing it and ridiculed the Mole but did not offer any concrete suggestion.

Of course, Kasa Akhava at once understood the impracticability of the proposal. Again there was a long silence but this time, the silence was broken by a small bird called Chaklen, perched neatly on the top of a tall bamboo. He said “My dear Lord, in my humble opinion, my friend Mole’s proposal is obviously not practicable because of the simple fact that nobody else can sleep one year nor can he work a year at a stretch. We need short intervals for rest and equally short intervals for work.”

Kasa Akhava realized the wisdom of this proposal and chose him to foretell future events. At the same time, he appointed the Cock to determine the length of the day and night. Kasa Akhava commanded that the Cock, when he became tired and could not work any longer, should crow. That would determine the duration of the day. In the same manner, the Cock should sleep and when his body had fully renewed strength and was ready to wake up, he should once again crow and that would be the duration of the night. Thus the Cock declared the dawn and the setting of the Sun by crowing “Ki..Kri….Ki” ushering in the day and the night. The duration thus determined has remained as it is today.

Because the Mole’s proposal for the unworkable duration of the night and the day was laughed at and ridiculed, he was inconsolable. Therefore, the biggest disappointment of the day was that despite the entreaties of fellow creatures, the Mole went underground by burrowing inside the earth and hid there out of shame. All the creatures were so angry with his conduct that they cursed him saying, you must remain hidden under the soil and you will surely die if you ever come out.

(To this day,the Mole remains hidden underground eating only grass roots and if he ever comes out into the open, he normally does not survive. He is eaten by either wild cats or hawks. It is also true in the case of the Chaklen that the few Tangkhul Nagas who still follow their old religion listen to its chirps whenever they undertake a journey outside their village boundary or even go for hunting. They hasten to return home from the village gate or from halfway of the journey or even from the very gate of the other village to which they are travelling if the chirps of Chaklen are considered unfavourable. Even today in the interior, the villagers believe that those who do not pay heed to Chaklen’s warning chirps invariably meet misfortunes)

STORY COLLECTED BY: Shaiontoni Bose
TEXT SOURCE: Naga Folk Tales, Published by Select Books, New Delhi, R. Luikham
LOCATION: Nagaland