The Poinu Diary — Of Cold Evenings and Warm Memories

‘Hawai uri mapaan’ mightily blossoms amid the frigid chill and the icy grip of Poinu. Drenched in the ingtham ullen, Hungaam also offers its authentic flavour by this time of the year. Manipur Masala today presents The Poinu Diary—Of cold evenings and warm memories.

Poinu marks the main harvest season in Manipur. Blessed by Phou-Oibi, sacks of rice are delivered at our homes by the village folks who have toiled the entire year for a bountiful harvest.

Cold Poinu evenings are fondled by warm memories of good old childhood days. Sacks of rice laden bullock carts used to be quite a sight during those days. As kids, we had mischievously wanted to hop on those dragging carts and enjoy the ride down the street. The sight of the flickering lantern lit up on the san-gaari and the accompanying sound of sanarik still rings the memory bells.

Along came charoo with those huge sacks. Evenings were never the same for us. Una-waana, utek-waatek were collected to lit up a bonfire. As we enjoyed the evening bonfire after a full-fledged day playing games, we were never exhausted to learn the art of kabok pokpa out of those bundles of charoo.

The pre-dinner funga waari narrating session by our beloved abok or edhou made us super happy. Ah! Those were the days indeed.

Things are completely different in today’s Manipur. And as the evening transcends, life comes to a standstill here. It is not a surprising discovery that modern homes now have a temporary funga. Induction cookers, ovens, grillers, toasters etc. have adorned most of the kitchens nowadays. All thanks to technology, life has become much easier like never before in modern Manipur. The only recipe that is missing in modern Manipur’s menu, in this context, is a proper night life for our folks.

Night life is but a luxury that cannot be afforded by anyone here. Technology which has favoured our lives in many ways cannot even cure an ounce of fear that most of us have. Yes, it is but an open secret to all of us that fear comes along with darkness. I am completely numb to describe the nature of this fear. It does not mean I cannot cite down a number of reasons that have tinctured an incurable fear on our mind.

Earlier, when we were kids, the nature of fear was different. The fear of Churan-Thaaba was perhaps the only of its kind then. Elders used to scare us that Churaan-Thaaba would come carrying a big borakhao to pick up kids and would slice them into pieces and gorge on as their food. The irony is, such a thing never ever happened. As we grow up, the fear of that fabled Churan-Thaaba ultimately became mami-sami while we started encountering the real ones. In modern Manipur, there are different types of Churan-Thaaba — some are uniformed and some are not.

Defining the nature of a modern Churan-Thaaba is not a tough task in modern Manipur. Even a pre-nursery kid would easily sing a rhyme about him.

We at least, share a loving memory of that fabled Churan-Thaaba whose fear gripped us during our childhood days. The sight of a modern Churan-Thaaba not only makes us scared but nauseated too. And the saddest part is there are too many of them almost everywhere.

By the way, kumsi’s Poinu has been quite a quiet month as compared to last year’s. I wish Waakching, Phairen and Lamtaa also pass on in the same manner. As we fondle warm memories of cold Poinu evenings, let us also pray for the wellbeing of all the Churan-Thaaba. May they get well soon. May our state become at least a leiheiba lamdam!

This article was published on 22 Dec 2013
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