AS WE TRUNDLED DOWNHILL along the treacherous dirt track, made muddy by rain, I wondered how those routinely negotiating this path did not lose their mental bearings—or a few spinal discs. Our Mizo driver was nonchalant, piloting our pickup truck with ease. Peering through the foliage running along the trail, we saw neat rows of hutments, with green asbestos roofs, sprawled over a stretch of low hills. We could also see a river snaking through the valley.
The ten-kilometre trail originates in Farkawn, a village in Mizoram’s Champhai district, and snakes downhill to the Tiau River, which forms the border with Myanmar. It is frequented, among others, by Mizo sand miners and members of the Chin community—one of the eight national races recognised by the Burmese government. Under the free-movement regime devised by the governments of India and Myanmar, in 2018, people living within sixteen kilometres of the border can cross over without travel documents.
Forty-five minutes after leaving Farkawn, we finally reached the end of the trail. A swing bridge made of ropes and wood, swaying almost indistinguishably with the wind, connected the banks of the muddy river. I could see signs of human habitation on the other side, including a small check post and a few people ambling around in military fatigues. That, I recognised, was rebel territory.