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Thursday, December 03, 2020

Chp 841. Anti-Tobacco Songs

Good morning everyone from the beautiful hamlet of Neihbawih.

It's hard to believe that we're already in the month of December! As we were all preoccupied with various CoVid-19 lockdowns and face-mask regulations, time flew really fast. Wooosh.

For a very long time, Mizoram had the unique status of being the only Indian state with no CoVid-19 related deaths, until 28th October, when we got our first fatality due to this pandemic. But even then, as of today, 3rd December 2020, there are a total of 6 fatalities due to CoVid-19 in Mizoram, which is still far better than all the other Indian states where the numbers are in double, triple, quadruple and even quintuple digits!

And this is the part that baffles me.

I mean, yes, for a long time Mizoram enjoyed the status of being the only Indian state with no positive cases. And even after we got our first positive case, we still had the lowest infection and community spread rate in India. All that is because of our impressive ability to obey the lockdown rules and maintain strict social distancing as well as utmost regard for public health safety, all coordinated by the well efficient Village and Local Level Task Forces.

But once a person in Mizoram is infected, doesn't that put him or her in the same playing field as an infected person from Kerala, Punjab or West Bengal? Once infected, everybody's kept under the same (or similar) treatment, so why is there such a disparity in fatality rate?

If you look at today's current data [source:], Mizoram (3847 cases, 3572 recovered) has a recovery rate of 92.8%, and this is quite consistent across all states. Even Maharashtra, the state with the largest infection (18,32,176 cases, 16,95,208 recovered) has a recovery rate of 92.5%. But when it comes to fatality rate, Mizoram stands at 0.1% whereas Maharashtra is at 2.6%, with the national average being 1.4%.

I find this fact quite phenomenal because CoVid-19 is known to affect people with pre-existing conditions the most, and Mizoram has the dubious distinction of leading India when it comes to cancer. We are the largest consumer of tobacco related products in India, in terms of per capita consumption, mostly because smoking and other vices aren't considered taboo by most families in our Mizo society.

Thankfully, that trend has changed now, with more and more youngsters of today abstaining from cigarettes out of their own volition. Back during my teenage days, many of us started smoking due to peer pressure and the fear of not "fitting in", but the Mizo teens of today are so much wiser and way better informed. Kudos to them.

Earlier this year, just before the CoVid-19 outbreak, my uncle Dr. Malsawma had released 4 songs that he himself had composed, with the hope that it will create more awareness about the dangers of tobacco among our Mizo community. Those songs were performed beautifully by the much talented Ramhlun South YMA Choir.

The launch event was held at Synod Conference Centre, Mission Veng, on 19th February. A lot of family members, friends, well-wishers and colleagues in the medical profession turned up for the event.

My uncle immediately opened his speech with the grim news that Mizoram not only led India in cancer but we were also number #1 in terms of tongue cancer (male), lung cancer (male and female), breast cancer (female) stomach cancer (male and female), hypopharynx cancer (male), and gland cancer (male), not to mention we were also second and third in other specific cancer categories as well.

Yeah, that was reassuring. :P

But he stated the hard facts, and the truth may not always be palatable, whether we like it or not. Unlike people who call news that are not in their favour as "FAKE NEWS!", this is something we should all accept and try to rectify.

Dr. R. Thangliana, our Minister of Health & FW too delivered a fine speech on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle free from tobacco and alcohol for the betterment of Mizoram. 

The launch ceremony was then officially initiated.

This was followed by the talented Ramhlun South YMA Choir performing the songs on stage, one at a time. In between each performance, there were other programs held on stage.

Overall, there were 4 songs, all performed by Ramhlun South YMA Choir. Though all the lyrics were written by my uncle, other people composed the tune. The four songs were:

1. "Cancer Thlentu", composed by Pu Lalrokima, Ramhlun South, about Cancer awareness.

2. "Sikserh Ralpui", composed by Pu Lawmzuala, Durtlang, about Malaria awareness.

3. "Sim Rawh Aw (Zu Put Put Suh)", composed by Pu Lalrokima, about Cancer awareness.

4. "TB Doral Lian", composed by Pu Lalrokima, about Tuberculosis awareness.

I listened in awe to each song.

By the way, yes, the above photo looked deserted but that was only because my cousins who were all sitting next to me went outside to take a short smoking break during the ongoing anti-smoking programme. Yeah, that was super ironic! :D

Dr. Samuel, husband of my cousin Lalnui and my uncle's son-in-law delivered the vote of thanks to conclude the launch event.

Ramhlun South YMA Choir once again came on stage to perform the remaining songs. I really like how they took the trouble of changing their uniforms to perform different songs. :)

Below is a short sample of the songs they performed that day, taken from my mobile phone (the official music videos are posted further below). Turn up your volume, do listen to these amazing songs.

Though all the songs above were really good, my favourite wes "Sim Rawh Aw" as they sang "zu put put suh" which is a very Mizo way of describing smoking in a very criticizing way. I'm not gonna lie, I do smoke, but the song definitely gave me new encouragement to quit smoking, and I plan to quit smoking soon. 

When I posted about this event on my WhatsApp story that day, my classmates from school who are all doctors now like Dr. Thalavai Sundaram, Dr. Ranjith Kumar, Dr. Saravanan Rajamanickam etc., all responded immediately, telling me how wonderful the initiative was, and how it was much needed for us Mizos, as they told me that apparently in CMC Vellore, in the Cancer ward, there's an entire wing dedicated for just Mizo patients alone! I was like, whoah!

Once the event was over, everybody headed home, except us, because, you know, we are always special, lolz. Our dear driver back then switched on the dimmer lights by accident, and by the time the function was over, our car battery was completely drained!

Yeah it was not a funny experience at all, especially while pushing the car to "running start" the vehicle in front of all the Ramhlun South YMA Choir members. :D

My mom, sisters and nieces went home in our relatives' cars while I stayed back at the Synod Conference Centre with our driver, waiting for the Ford mechanics to come and charge the battery. Our neighbour Mawizuala was sweet enough to stay behind and give me company.

And that was the launch function that day.

A few days later, my uncle invited all the choir members of Ramhlun South YMA again for dinner at his place to show his appreciation for their music, and since we live right next door, I too was invited as the official photographer. :D :P

We arranged the chairs neatly to seat everyone.

Soon the choir members arrived one by one, and once everybody reached, the short function started, where my uncle talked about the songs he wrote and history behind each of them. My aunt Nu Zovi (who herself was an extremely talented singer back during her heydays) ended the short function with a prayer.

Nu Zovi is the eldest among my mom's siblings (my uncle being the youngest) and since she couldn't come for the launch event that day because of her age, the choir performed the songs once again specially for her. This was so sweet of them!

And then it was dinner time.

The dinner was served buffet style on their terrace upstairs.

Hungry choir members standing in line. :)

Some of you might think I was focussing on just the female choir members above, so here's a photo of the male choir members as well. :P

Chow time. I really enjoyed watching the choir members eat, because while the rest of us chewed our food with that munch munch sound, these choir members were making a Do Re Mi Fa So La... sound every time they chewed their food. :)

The man of the hour, my uncle Dr. Malsawma, eating his dinner.

Nu Zovi eating dinner on the dinning table with my cousin Lalnui.

One final group photo before they dispersed.

And that was a fulfilling end to a wonderful evening. Our souls enriched by the beauty of their songs, our stomachs satiated by the delightful dinner.

To conclude this post, here are the four Music Videos performed by Ramhlun South YMA Choir, I hope you enjoy listening to them all as much as I did, and please give the videos some love by "liking" them on YouTube.

Cancer Thlentu.

Sikserh Ralpui.

Sim Rawh Aw (Zu Put Put Suh).

TB Doral Lian.

Ps. On a totally unrelated topic, I just wanted to mention that I was finally able to display the YouTube videos above in 100% width on your desktops and laptops because I used a special CSS trick to do so, you'll find the CSS source code at h3xed site. Just giving credit where it is due. However it is still not displaying in 100% width on mobile browsers so I'll look into this matter once I go home from Neihbawih. Cheers.

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