Shining Down Through the Ages

Rüsoma is a northern Angami village situated at about 8 kms from Kohima. This village would have probably remained unknown and uninteresting to many people under normal circumstances. This is so because Rüsoma is neither a big village nor anything spectacular ever took place in this village in recorded history. However, many years ago a woman named Sopfünuo was born in this village and as they say ‘the rest is history’. 

For over a century now, Rüsoma has captured the imagination of many people from near and far. Many people talk about Rüsoma and many even go to visit this village from near and far. And all these are because of this Sopfünuo who was born and brought up in this village many years ago.      

Sopfünuo was born in Rüsoma village and she spent her entire childhood and adolescent years with her parents in this village. Probably, after her adolescent years, Sopfünuo also lived for some years with her parents till she was finally married off to a faraway village. Sopfünuo was a woman who was not only beautiful and charming but was also well-cultured and well brought-up by her loving parents and she had in her all the desired and requisite qualities of an ideal woman. Moreover, she was probably the only child of her parents.

During her youthful years, Sopfünuo was the pride of her village and the envy of all the neighboring villages. There was not even a single young man in the village who did not want to own her. Being a young and beautiful woman, there was certainly no dearth of suitors for her either from near or from afar.  However, since she was the only child of her parents, her parents did not wish her to marry someone from an afar village. Rather, they preferred her to marry some young man from their own village Rüsoma.

However, one day, proposal came from a very far village asking for Sopfünuo’s hand in marriage. The name of this far away village was Sopfuma.  Initially, her parents did not accept the proposal as they did not want their beloved daughter to be away from their eyesight. However, when these people from Sopfuma village kept on coming asking for Sopfünuo’s hand in marriage, her parents finally had to give in.   

Thus, Sopfünuo was finally married off to a man from Sopfuma village. Her husband’s name was Khriedunuo. And in the initial years following their marriage, everything went well and Sopfünuo did spend some happy years with her husband Khriedunuo. 

However, after a son was born to them, things changed. Khriedunuo fell in love with another woman and started to mistreat Sopfünuo. Every night, Khriedunuo would come home drunk and tell Sopfünuo to go away from his house. However, because of her love and care of their only son, Sopfünuo did not wish to leave her husband’s house even though her husband continued to abuse her. 

However, Khriedunuo’s behavior did not improve and things started to go from bad to worse. Therefore, with a heavy heart, Sopfünuo finally made up her mind to take her son and go back to her parents’ house in Rüsoma. 

However, this was not an easy thing to do as Rüsoma was a village situated very far from Sopfuma. Anything could happen along the journey. However, Sopfünuo could no longer bear the betrayal and abuse of her husband. Therefore, one evening she took her beloved child and started for the long and uncertain journey towards her parents’ house in Rüsoma. She had already prepared everything she would need for the long and lonely journey.

That evening, as Sopfünuo took her child and moved out of her husband’s house, her husband Khriedunuo went outside his house and started to observe the fire-light which Sopfünuo was carrying. Khriedunuo kept on watching the light which she was carrying till it disappeared near the edge of a hill. After her light disappeared from his sight, Khriedunuo went inside his house and slept.     

Years passed and Khriedunuo got married to another woman and nothing was heard again about his first wife Sopfünuo. Khriedunuo thought that Sopfünuo must have reached Rüsoma safely that fateful night and never bothered to know about her again. However, the truth was that Sopfünuo and her child never reached anywhere near Rüsoma that night. 

Many years passed and when Sopfünuo’s parents and relatives in Rüsoma did not hear anything about her for a very long time, they finally sent someone to Sopfuma to enquire about her. When this relative of Sopfünuo reached Sopfuma village, he was told that Sopfünuo and her child had run away many years ago. 

When this news reached Rüsoma village, the people of the village started their enquiry and investigation to know the ultimate fate of Sopfünuo and her child. And when they came to the spot where the fire-light carried by Sopfünuo was last seen by her husband that fateful night, they saw two stones in the shape of a woman and a child lying side by side. When the villagers of Rüsoma saw this, they were convinced that Sopfünuo and her child must have turned into these two stones after their unfortunate death at this spot. The people of Rüsoma, therefore, decided that they would bring these two stones within the vicinity of their village. 

However, when the people of Rüsoma went to the site and tried to pull the stone (believed to be the body of Sopfünuo), a fierce storm came over compelling the villagers to abandon their mission for the day. The next day and in the following days also this same thing happened over and over again i.e. a fierce storm would come over whenever they tried to pull the stone. 

Then, one night, an old man in the village had a dream. In this dream, he met Sopfünuo who told him that she would not come to the village unless her son is also pulled along with her. Through this dream, the villagers got the message that the two stones would have to be pulled together as the smaller stone was the child of Sopfünuo. 

The next day, the people of Rüsoma went to the site and bound the two stones together and pulled. This time around there was no storm and the villagers could easily pull the stones to the village where they were finally rested.

To this day these two stones lie here in Rüsoma village and they are the most treasured possession of the Rüsoma people. People from near and far come to see the stones of Sopfünuo and her child and to relive their unfortunate story. Legend has it that whenever any of these stones are touched storms would come and engulf the whole village and its surroundings. 

Ever since I came to know about the story of Sopfünuo during my high school years, I have always wondered during which period of time she must have lived. It could be the first half of the 19th century or anywhere in the 18th century. Or it could be even as early as the 17th century. We do not know. However, what is most amazing and incredible is that even at a time when the Nagas did not maintain any written records, the name of Sopfünuo and her story were able to survive and have survived to this day whereas many other names and stories have perished. This name and this story have been passed on from parents to their offspring for many generations now. I believe there is not even a single Angami village where the story of Sopfünuo was not told.   

And today, I remember and write about Sopfünuo not because of the unfortunate and painful death that she and her child had to endure that fateful night… but because of the woman that she was and because of the spirit of womanhood that she represents and symbolizes. Of course, she was abused and chased away from her husband’s house for no fault of hers and she had to die a very lonely and unfortunate death. But the names of those people who mistreated her are long forgotten and buried whereas her name has survived to this day. 

 It was said that when Sopfünuo was still a small girl, someone had already told her that she would one day become illustrious and prominent. How true indeed! She did become famous and she did become a legend. Her fame spread far and wide and her name is on every lip and on every tongue. She has survived when all others have been long forgotten and buried.  
Meanwhile, as I conclude my write-up here, the name of Sopfünuo continues to shine on………..