Lapdiang Syiem performs ’Reach out to grasp roots – I stand uprooted’.
The piece has been adapted from three poems by Esther Syiem. The performance draws strongly upon the story of U Thlen, using it as the main thread that looks into the issue of coal mining. The other story, The Man-Eating Boulder is woven in through the voice of a mother and her child. The child is at its death throes as it struggles to break free of the stone that is in the act of swallowing it, while the mother, who is bound by routine and labour, has become numbed to the cries of her child.
The last story reenacts the reemergence of the Thlen in the present scenario bringing with it the complexities of labour, migration and ownership. It is the interplay of these seemingly simplistic characters that were passed down through oral tradition that is explored. As we delve deeper into them, they present themselves as metaphors that preempt the times we live in. In this performance, they bring out the disruptive and evil force of coal mining that is slowly consuming land, economy and lives.