The Headhunters of Longwa
Inscribed with tattoos and equipped with sharp weapons, the Longwas of Nagaland have preserved their tradition in this rapidly evolving world, writes Aakash Mehrotra.
Conversing with a nonagenarian is sleep-inducing, until the moment you ask about his good old fighting days, then the geriatric warrior suddenly comes alive; the years dissolve, eyes gleam, clarity returns and tales of the good life pour as if it was all yesterday. I was in Longwa, a small village on Indo-Burma border in Nagaland and conversing with a headhunter, who suddenly got into his warrior mode, stabbing the air with his spear. 'I killed 10 men' he recalled, with obvious pride. He then patted his necklace, which has metal carved human skulls on it and showed me the machete he used to cut off their heads.