A Tale of Two Melodramas of the Season

All the Sajibu, Kaalen, Inga and Ingen have their unique flavours. We create seasonal memories with specific occasions and stuffs that make the days special, or at least, memorable. I have come up with a different recipe for Manipur Masala, so that it adds a new tang to the ongoing seasonal melodramas (if I may call it so).

We have two dramas this season: first, the battery of bombs that are ready to explode anytime/anywhere in our state. The second performance is a sensitive national issue—the onion drama.

Who says the government cannot collapse because of tilhou? Food inflation can prove politically disastrous ahead of the next general election, scheduled next year. So, it will be unsurprising if the major political parties are harping on tilhou to make a point or two, inside and outside the talking shop of the Indian democracy.

Now let us see the happenings closer home, yet on the other side of India. I am not sure about the price of the cheap bombs that are available across the state but when it comes to Onion, it’s Rs 80 per kg.

The price is as apt as the thika commission for our babu sahebs. Unlike the spirit of the Manipuris, most of the stingy Delhites have almost decided to stop consuming tilhou entirely. Rupees 80 is such a big concern for the Delhites. The living standard and earning might be higher here in the capital but when it comes to generosity, no one can ever beat the Manipuris. And that’s something we should always be proud of.

The melodrama of tilhou is expected to continue for quite a few days. Meanwhile, the melodrama of bombs will perhaps continue for a few more months or even years depending on the shortage of sanity as far as our state and our folks are concerned. I must not forget to mention that the tilhou issue is not much of a shocking news for us. The recent years have been a sole witness how we, the Manipuris, do not mind even spending more than Rs 1,000 for a cylinder. Then, the petrol and diesel issue—all of us know they are available all the time; we just have to pay more!

According to a secret source of naap-chadaba pao, it has been reported that the recent bomb blasts are more of a reminder to the rest of the nation that this onion price inflation is nothing as compared to the daily inflation of human lives that continue in our state. As usual, our P.M Ji’s reaction to this information was ‘mute’. He has, however, shared his concern over the sarkaar kainam-namba tilhou price issue.

A few sources from Manipur have also reported that Nakuppi and Napaakpi-chaar will be sent in bulk to Bihar and Haryana by the end of this year. This is to prevent government-collapsing tilhou inflation in the coming future. Considering it as one opportunity of Kangleipakisation, our Ingkhol Minister has wished all the Nakuppi and Napaakpi karobaar people all the best for this venture.

Meanwhile, the secretary of ‘Ema Leibaakidamak Sen Niduna Lemjaa Chagani’ party, Mr. Thouleitaba has expressed his concerns through as-to-be-printed press release: “Among the many ‘isms’ we numbly follow in our society, one such remarkable ‘ism’ is Heinabism. We are so obsessed with this habit that we cannot give it up at any cost, which is in fact, a matter of pride for many of us. Coupled with Katan-ism, it’s a long way to go for us. Therefore, I cannot concur the idea of exporting nakuppi or napaakpi chaar to other Indian states. This is not a brilliant idea at all.’

Reality for us is like a chewing gum; we love chewing it but would never ever swallow it because it is indigestive. The consequence would be a little odd. Hence, the thou-waaa saabidaba praja-meeyam of our society are still reluctant to face it. They still purchase petrol at a double price and still do not mind spending lupa marfoo for a kilo of tilhou.

This article was published on 18 April 2013

An Obituary: Abok

Once, a long, long time ago in Imphal, my Abok had her tiny potfham, right beside the Shamu Makhong. It used to be a major landmark in the entire Khwairambandh Keithel, but not anymore.

Those potfhams were demolished to build a flyover and a new Ema Keithel. But to me it seems to have vandalized a memory land, forever and ever. The Keithel has so far changed its look and nature, pacing up with the matamgi echel. Though it wears a modern look, it lacks its quintessential feature. Perhaps, it is a personal observation because I see no more, my Abok’s potfham in that spot.

Last week when I was home to visit my Abok, I passed by Thong Nambonbi. For a while, I visualised the old scene of the then keithel but alas that was a surreal chimera. My Abok was no more around, nor was her potfham. She was then battling for her life in some smelly ward at a hospital.

My Abok led an ordinary life. Abandoned by her husband at an early age, she brought up her children single-handedly. She used to sell mangan-chana and heingaan ladoo at the keithel. She was just another ‘face’ among those struggling potfham fambi abok, ema and eney-endol in those days. But when it comes to all the good memories she had gifted us, she was more of a generous queen.

They say a grandmother is a buffer zone between parents and reality. But to me, my Abok had been more than a buffer zone. She used to be an angel in disguise for me and my siblings/cousins. She gifted us some of the most memorable moments when we were kids, simultaneously spoiling us all with oodles of ngamok and pocket money.

I spent a major slice of my childhood days at her place. Throughout her life, she had given away everything she had – sometimes for her children and other times, for her grandchildren. I can’t help wondering what had we gifted her back. A once or twice visit in a few months or a name-sake phone call asking about her wellbeing and that’s it.

All her life, she had been there showering us with all her love and affection. But in return, we gave her ‘nothing in specific’ and that eventually makes us realise our own selfishness.

Whether we admit it or not, we know that most of us are so engrossed in our own world that often we tend to forget our elders. Meanwhile, they get older and weaker. They would still not complain and that makes us more self-obsessed.

Like the ‘thao yaodaba keithelgi thaomei’, Abok’s life had extinguished forever a few days back. She is no more but has left behind all the good memories for all of us. Meanwhile, I am suffocated with a guilty feeling of abandoning her for all those years when she might have needed us.

I pity myself that this column is all that I can gift her back especially when she is no more around. She would not even bother to know about it had she been still alive. I should have spent some more time with her. I should have visited her more often in all these years.

Abok’s demise has made me learn another difficult lesson about life. This time, I will seriously stop wearing a ‘selfish badge’. Human’s never ending quest will never ever end. If we steal some moments away from life’s hustle-bustles for our loved ones, we will regret less in our future.

Well, if there is life after death, if one can pass on messages to human souls, I would leave no stone unturned to thank my beloved Abok for everything.

Soul messengers, if there is any, please convey my heartiest thanks for all the hardships she had to bear while bringing up my mom, emashi and mamoh on her own. Please thank her for all the achapot she used to buy for us, please thank her for all the chakoubagi dakhnia. And please thank her for being the best ever Abok I have ever known in my life. She will live in our memory forever. Please do convey her that I wish to have her as my Abok in each and every life time.

May her soul rest in peace forever.

This article was published on 4 Aug 2013
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