From the interiors of Kachugaon, Assam, a class VIII student, Sanjib, pens a letter to his counterpart in Delhi. After revealing how floods occur in Assam every year, he says that he lost his younger brother to illness when the floods struck long ago. He has advice for the school-goer reading his letter in the Capital — of how they should take good care of their younger sibling and shower him with love and affection. Similar letters form the crux of the exhibition “Postcards of Change: Letters to and from Northeast” at India International Centre in Delhi, an initiative by Reachout Foundation to tackle racial and ethnic discrimination. The exhibition comprises handmade cards and letters, written by 657 students from Delhi, Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, and are a part of a campaign, “The India Project: Say No to Discrimination”.
Vibha Lakhera, Managing Trustee of the foundation, says, “Children here, whose idea of India is just Delhi, are oblivious to what happens in other states. There is also an urban and rural disconnect. The exchange of letters helped the children see things from a different angle.”
Apart from Bihu in Assam, Christmas in Manipur and Diwali in Arunachal Pradesh, the harvest festival of Manipur, Chavang Kut, finds a mention in Neng Emhoi’s letter. Apart from a lot of singing and dancing, they also wear new clothes like shirts and frocks. “My parents give me money and buy eatables and I eat with my friends,” Emhoi writes. Demlenmang Kipgen, a Class IX student of VM Nazareth English High School in Manipur, draws the Kuki and Naga tribe, dressed in their traditional attire.
The exchange began on August 15 last year, where students were asked to make cards themed around Independence Day. There is the regular mention of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda, and many Northeast students acquainted their Delhi counterparts with drawings of their local heroes. “He is the freedom fighter of Manipur, I hope you will like him,” Nenghoithem Julie says about Paona Brajabashi, a Manipuri patriot.