‘We are not here without a purpose,' the shaman explained. ‘Our purpose is to fulfil our destiny…All life is light and shadow.'
Like any other place on earth, the territory of the Adis in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh is ‘Pensam'—the ‘in-between' place. Anything can happen here, and everything can be lived, and ‘the narrow boat that we call life sails along somehow in calm or stormy weather'. A mysterious boy who fell from the sky is accepted as a son of the village and grows up to become a respected elder. A young woman wounded in love is healed by a marriage of which she expected little. A mother battles fate and the law for a son she has not seen since she lost him as an infant. A remote hamlet gets a road, but the new world that comes with it threatens upheaval. And as villages become small towns and towns approximate cities, the brave and patient few guard the old ways, negotiating change with memory and remembrance.
An intricate web of stories, images and the history of a tribe, The Legends of Pensam is a lyrical and moving tribute to the human spirit. With a poet's sense for incident and language, Mamang Dai paints a memorable portrait of a land that is at once particular and universal.