Thomas Nadal Poletto
In 1841, a young Welsh missionary named Thomas Jones made his way to the once-remote part of the world, the Khasi-Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya and introduced the Roman script to the Khasis. From time immemorial the Khasi inheritance and the descending order of a clan is drawn from the mother’s side.
When Thomas Jones found himself lost in the forest of the Khasi Hills, he was suddenly overcome by the dizzying trees surrounding him. He called loud the few names he remembered. Everything around him became unfamiliar, confused and hostile. He did not know that one of the many spirits living in the forest generated that condition of disorientation. In the deafening silence of that flushed solitude, young Thomas lost himself and entered a dimension without defined boundaries, a space in which borders are shapeless, indistinct, shifting by chance. From then on, he began to hear songs coming from the forest, a rhythmic rhythm of a bamboo, repeated endlessly, birds and trees. He was enchanted by different inner tunes that surrounded him.
The people of these areas have always used song tunes as their names. These musical names are known in the Khasi language as Jingrwai Lawbei (song clan ancestress). These songs come out from the mothers. The children take the clan name of the mother. The Jingrwai Lawbei is also used to protect people from the spirits of the forest.