The Times of Manipur

Alright NASA has predicted a total blackout on 22nd, 23rd and 24th of this month. My concern, however, is whether we need to bother if the world is coming to an end this year or not?

If we look into the list of issues and incidents that continuously bog down our state, we need not be scared of the world coming to a dead end. And the reason or rather the ugly truth that authenticates this view is a simple logic.

In our state we are so far used to celebrating (yes, celebrating) many blackout days. A fragmented society that ours is, it has become a serious habit for us to lead our lives lamenting and celebrating at the same time. For an idea we can find the truth in the list — bomb blasts, blockades, bandhs, fairs and festivals, all round the year, all of them in a complete package that we made of.

We yawn every time we hear something about corruption or kaang khong chaiba state of affairs. It is nothing surprising for us to come across news related to corruption or a chaotic political situation day in and day out. Corruption for our state machinery is more of its spinal cord. Those who have the nerves to attach themselves to it get benefited. Otherwise, no further comments.

Well, it’s not a different fact that ours is already an infected system. And we are in lack of a good socio-medical support team or political-environmentalists to cleanse the system. It is therefore just sheer stupidity to even bother about cleansing the system.

I would like to compare the situation with that of a heavy chain smoker. The chain smoker knows that continuous smoking can harm his lungs and yet he cannot simply give up smoking. It becomes rather habitual getting used to smoking every day. Likewise, those who are part of the system know they are not doing the right thing but they cannot simply help. They get so used to corruption, they get used to the filth and dirt that have been polluting the machinery for all these decades.

It’s true that most of them once dared to talk so daring and bold about the issues that affect our lives. Some of them even did it at the cost of getting unasked brickbats. But once they become a part of the system, they mind their own corrupted business —‘esha esha soidraga loire’ — what else can we expect for?

As a matter of fact, I would not be less amused if I ever come across a high-ranked official admitting, ‘Paisa chaajagay nabu sarkaargi thabak touribani’. And trust me, I would not even blame him or her because one follows the norms that are meant not to be followed. And those who know not how to follow the norms get fooled and are tagged as losers or an abnormal individual.

For the thou-leitaba lots who want to introspect the current times of Manipur, many ugly truths are found smartly concealed here and there. It is like ‘Yenakhada amot akai peisinba’ while the shumang shines and glitters during a particular occasion at one’s home. We know how filthy the home is when we have a look at the yenakha, otherwise, we see what we believe from the surface; or should I say shumang again?

We do not want to cleanse or get clean up; we are only good at blame games. We keep on polluting every place and space because that’s what we are good at. I would love to address the role of ‘Ema Manipur’ as that of ‘Chaayaam pokpi mamagi dassa’ — of her inability to waarak watemba her children.  It’s funny to admit but yes if we cannot admit or identify our fault, we must find someone to blame. In that case, we can blame (the never existing) ‘Athouba, athoubi, mapaari, mamom kaya pokpi Ema Manipur for everything. Sounds politically correct as well, right?

Well, if the world does not end this year and if we live long enough to see our grandchildren in the future, we must be really ashamed to tell tales about the current times of Manipur.

We have grown up listening to our favourite funga waari and many historically nostalgic stories of their times from our Buboks and Edhous. Most of the stories we had heard as kids have had their own morals.

I feel seriously sorry for our grand children from the future for whom we have hardly any good, encouraging stories to narrate. Perhaps we can weave a few (not so interesting) stories from the bandhs, blockaes, bomb blasts, never ending list of festivals and melas and so on from the present times of Manipur. Do we even have an option?

This article was published on 16 Dec 2012

Goodbye Nostalgia!

My Mom asked me, ‘How long are you going to stay out of home?’ She did when I recently shared my plan for leaving Imphal. I did not have any reply to her question. I gave her this and that reason, with a feeling of guilt in my heart to leave home again. I knew not why I had to leave behind the most loved and cherished place on earth. My reason was something beyond earning a mere livelihood or searching for a better career option. Maybe I badly wanted to run away like a bride whose marriage had been fixed to the wrong guy. It might sound a little filmy but I have reasons of my own. Though it is right that I love everything about Manipur that includes my family, friends, various places and faces; it is equally true that there are many things that irk me every now and then when it comes to our home state.

At times, I do seriously wonder if I have started considering myself a tourist in my own home. Perhaps I share this feeling with many who have stayed out of home for more than a decade. I used to have this notion on my mind for all these years that home is really where the heart is. I had infected myself with an incurable nostalgia for all these years. And this time I thought I should stay back at home among my people. It took me only two months to prove that my decision was wrong and utterly illogical in a way. I must not forget to affirm that as far as Manipur is concerned ‘Home is not where the heart is but the hatred is’. And what is scary to imagine is that this hatred can take any shape or contour in the course of time. I know not what is really wrong with us but in the quest of power or easy money, most of us have become soft-feathered beasts.

We are uncomfortably numb and also dumb about certain issues that tickle our attention almost every day. We feel insecure seeing security personnel around us, when they are the ones in whose presence we are supposed to feel safe and protected. We are scared of a bomb blast that would occur anytime, anywhere across the town and elsewhere. I collectively consider it as a result of hatred. We abhor one another as if we are obliged to do so.

We do not mind wasting all the time, standing in long queues at petrol pumps — it happened even at the rumours of an impending economic blockade. A fools’ paradise that we are in, we have to endure ‘taaheidraba uheidraba’ words and incidents on a daily basis. Sometimes our nerves are more chilled than those waakchingi ullen, as a result of the never-ending brouhaha that takes many shapes every now and then.

Every cloud has its silver lining but when it comes to the deep-rooted issues of our state, we can see only the approaching storm. Those who are starved for power and easy money do not have any shame crossing any limit to appease their wants. From a mere thikadaar to a high-ranked state official, it’s difficult to figure out who is more dishonest and in what terms? Corruption has become a favourite naachom for most of the public sector employees, irrespective of gender or rank. It’s a perfect disorder that we are so used to and we do not mind it at all.

Most of us talk big about wind of change but it’s not surprising to find out that it’s the wind of hatred that is churning across the state. Thanks to this new-found wisdom, I am supposedly cured of nostalgia. But this does not mean I am going to stop missing my most favourite place under the sun. It’s just that nostalgia turns out to be a bad disease indeed but for my new found understanding, I must be thankful to it. I must also admit that I would reconsider taking a hard core decision of settling in Manipur in the near future. All in all, Goodbye Nostalgia!

This article was published on 9 Dec 2012
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