BISWANATH CHARIALI, Feb 26 – At a time when India and China have been engaged in border conflicts and are trying to show their military prowess, a Chinese family has mingled with the greater Assamese society by accepting Assamese culture, customs and traditions at Mijika, some 15 km from here, towards the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.
The family, now headed by Fokchem Tham who is 85, came to Assam way back in 1927 in search of a job from Hoi Feng Cham How Hong in the Kenton Province of China.
The family was then headed by Tham’s father, Than Thung Mau, son of Thams Hong. After moving here and there throughout the State searching for a livelihood for some time, Than Thung Mau started working as a carpenter at Rangapara. There he met Maina Koch and married her, who gave birth to Fokchem. Fokchem shifted to Mijika in 1955 and joined the Mijika Tea Estate under the Biswanath subdivision.
In due course, he married Milan Basumatary of Balipara and fathered six children, including three sons and three daughters. The eldest and youngest sons, Deepak and Rajesh respectively, work outside Assam now, while the other son, Pradeep Tham works in the same tea garden. The daughters – Deepa, Meena and Ouchan – had been married off. The elderly couple, Fokchem and Milan, now lives in west Mijika.
Having mingled with the ethnic culture and by adopting the local customs and traditions of the area all through these years, the Chinese family has now turned totally Assamese. Whether it is Magh Bihu or Bohag Bihu, Milan Tham, 67, is overwhelmed.
She starts preparing every type of pitha and jalpan. She grinds the pithagudi herself on the ural. Besides, she can prepare Chinese delicacies like taan chaan and kokchai. Assamese is spoken in the family by the members.
Tham’s family from the neighbouring country has come to symbolise international brotherhood in the area.