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Distributed for Zubaan Books

Bitter Wormwood

Kohima, 2007. A young man has just been gunned down in cold blood—the latest casualty in the conflict that has brutalized the people of Nagaland, in the neglected northeastern corner of India. Rich in culture and history, Bitter Wormwood traces the story of one man’s life from 1937 until 2007, offering poignant insight into the human cost behind the political headlines of one of India’s most beautiful regions.
In a gripping story that brings to life the processes that propel social change and transform communities, Easterine Kire skillfully renders the small incidents of Mose’s childhood, his family, and the routines and rituals of traditional village life, painting an evocative picture of a peaceful way of life, now long-vanished. The coming of radio into Mose’s family house marks the beginning of the changes that will connect them to the wider world. They learn of partition, independence, a land called America. Mose and his friends become involved in the Naga struggle for independence, and are caught in a maelstrom of violence that ends up ripping communities apart.

269 pages | 5 x 8 | © 2011


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“Easterine Kire is the keeper of her people’s memory, their griot. She is a master of the unadorned language that moves because of the power of its evocative simplicity.”

Paul Pimomo

“Once opened, it’s tough to close, so congenial are the leading characters and so riveting the events in their lives.”

Cairns Media Magazine

Table of Contents

Author’s Introduction

Part One
    The Tree Ritual
    “The Japanese are Coming!”
    New Things
    A Squirrel for Dinner
    The Radio
    Gandhi, Marbles and a Prophecy
    An Unfinished Life
    Eggs for Jisu
    Shadows Gathering
    The Darkness Descends
    Elections (1952)
    A Shot in the Fields
    Moving On
    Mose Leaves School
    Mose and Neituo Join Up
    The Jungle Years
    The Flag
    A Birth, A Death
    A New Life
    School and Work
    Spectres of More Changes
    The Bomb
    A New Government
    The List
    The Shop
    The Violence Spreads
Part Two
    A New Generation
    More Killings
    Crime by Another Name
    Distorted Truths
    The Rashtriya Rifles Attack and After
    The Afspa
Part Three
    Neibou Leaves for College
    An Unexpected Friendship
    About Grandfathers
    Out on the Porch 2007
    The Visit
    On the Train
    A Fatal Accident
    Pushing History Out
    Bitter Wormwood

Appendix I: Some Important Dates of Naga Political History
Appendix II: The Simon Commission
Appendix III: The Plebiscite: A Letter to the President of India
Appendix IV: The Nine point agreement
Appendix V: Historical Rights of the Nagas and their Quest for Integration

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