A Terrible Matriarchy

Easterine on A Terrible Matriarchy: I  wrote this book in the middle of 2005 experimentally but stopped at page four, thinking it was too dark. I sent the four pages to my publisher in India, who encouraged me to write the rest so that is how it grew. As it is a book about the Angami society that I grew up in and had intimate knowledge of, it was good to be writing it in Norway, geographically distanced from it. I could then see that the patriarchal structure of my society was underlined by a very strong matriarchy. Of course, this differs from village to village but women do hold an invisible sway over the social dictates, especially older women in the family. 

Yet, it must be added, that it is stronger in some families and some villages and almost non- existent in others. Ambivalent, sort of. 

I saw it as a negative female energy manifestation when the little girl who is the central character of the book is suppressed by her grandmother when she goes to live with her. Her grandmother calls it cultural education. But for the girl it is denial of things that were permitted to her brothers. It is not a life. 

The struggle of the girl to get educated, the sacrifices she makes and the position she creates for herself in later life is also true of what is happening to women in my society today.  I  think that she discovers a positive female energy inside of her and uses it to shape her social reality for the better. The problems of alcoholism amongst men and dropouts at school and frustration are all related to the unsolved political conflict at home. 

The overwhelming presence of a spiritual reality is also true to the Naga experience. There are flashbacks into the Naga past, a colonial history under British administration, the second world war and the Japanese invasion of our lands and the struggle for freedom and all its complications after Indian independence. These form the background of the story which is the young girl, Dielieno's story, and through...