Shri Langonjam Birmangal Singha : A devout worshipper of Manipuri literature & culture in Tripura
- Part 2 -

Dr Anuradha Nongmaithem *

Oja has published more than 15 books which includes

o Makthara Ambir -1987 (Short Stories);
o Chatshi Puri Koyrusi-1995 (Travelogue);
o Mahadevgee Wari2005 (Short Stories) ;
o Etihaski Mityendagi Tripura-Manipur (Essays) 2009;
o Jiban Jekhane Ranakshetra (Translated into Bengali)-2009;
o Ekti Llisher Swad O Annanya Golpa (N Kunjamohan gee Khangatlaba Wari Macha (Translation into Bengali )-2009;
o Rabindranath Gee Khangatlaba Sahitya (translation in Manipuri, as an Editor)-2011;
o Manipuri Lokkatha -2012; Prasanga Manipur -2012;
o Kichu Rekha Kichu Jiban-2013;
o Sudhir Nouroibam gee Leiee Khara Punshi Khara (Transaltion into Bengali)- 2013;
o Ushin (Short Stories)-2022;
o Manipur O Manipuri (Essays)-2022; and
o Takhel-da Manipuri-2023 (Essays) etc.

He has been honoured for his remarkable contribution in Manipuri literature by various organisations from Manipur as well as in Tripura. The award includes Kaminikumar Gold Medal for his short story Mahadebagi Wari in 2007 by Manipuri Sahitya Parishad, Imphal.

Amulya- Snehalata Sahitya Puraskar by Tripurabani Prakashani in 2012, Himadri Deb Smiti Srot Shrestha Grantha Samman (H Deb Memorial Srot Best Book Award)- for 'Prasanga Manipur' by Srot Sahitya Patra O Prakashana in 2013, Thiyam Ibochoubi National Award by Sahitya Thoupang Lup, Imphal in 2016, Vidyasagar Samajik Sanskritik Puraskar by Government of Tripura in 2021, Yendrembam Suralata Pu-raskar for Ushin by Sahitya Seva Samiti, Kakching in 2021 to name a few.

His short stories are quite extraordinarily flooded with symbolic meaning of day to day life, capturing the minute nuances of modern life styles in Tripura. He had a unique writing style characterized by the use of popular proverbs and pun which he would twist according to his requirements. An outspoken man and a social thinker, he is apprehensive about conservatism and orthodoxy.

He generously attacks conservatism and orthodoxy and hypocrisy of human beings in his writings. Manipur O Manipuri and Prasanga Manipur focuses more on the history of Manipur, Manipuri language, literature and culture of Manipur, these books are written in Bengali. The main aim of his writing in Bengali is to share some idea about Manipuri culture and its literature with Bengali readers.

A disciple and humanitarian by nature he couldn't bear to see the injustice that is prevailing in Tripura society, so he took up the mission to correct the wrong doers through his writings. He employed mostly sense of humour and satirically attacks to the existing orthodoxy of Tripura society.

His works aren't just literature, they are documentation of human experiences, especially in Tripura. The beauty of his literary creation lies in the lucidity and organic feel of his sensibility. There is a subtle essence in every story that makes it stand out from the rest of his contemporary writers.

One can vividly picture his thoughts, his experiences, and his life through his eyes in his writings. Yes, he takes on the reader at a close personal level. Oja being brave and courageous, speak about things he believed in, such as peace and human rights. He used his skills to talk against conflicts, social issues and other important political issues. He is a strong supporter of peace and human rights.

It is crucial to pay attention not only to the words, their meaning but also the structure while reading Oja's work. Sometimes, one can observe that the situation in the beginning of the story is repeated at the end. He incorporates sense of illogicality and murkiness to bring humour in some of his short stories. Inability to get the full picture creates an atmosphere of obscurity, ambiguity and dismay which ultimately bare open at the end.

Nevertheless, he also includes numerous comic elements through the use of language that employs satire and irony. Some of his stories are simple, though somewhat unconventional in its theme, especially in the short story collection, Ushin. The stories, in fact, are impressive, fascinating enough, although it has nothing of wonderful characters or invigorating incidents.

He has a magnificent resourceful power to make an attractive story out of simple incidents and common characters as in his collections of short stories in Mahadevgee Wari and Ushin. He writes as if he is speaking and so there is a continuous flow in his style that never looks heavy or unnatural. In fact, Oja weave an attractive tale out of simple facts and average characters.

While Oja's resorts to first-person narrative to give credibility to the descriptions leading his images. The characters in the stories create stereotypical figures that stay in the minds of the readers.

He chooses the themes carefully, yet they are ordinary themes prevalent in the social fabric of Tripura. This social criticism makes his readers aware of the injustice and bad education system, and moral downfall. His stories in Makthara Ambir and Ushin are also marked by inexhaustible creative urge which is manifested equally in content, theme, and style of writing.

He uses satire in his work to criticize the follies of society. His satire flourishes with his misrepresentation of situations. His stories capture the real essence and nuances of village life and life in the city.

At the end of the interview he shared a beautiful message to the younger generation of Manipuri in Tripura that, "We should consciously try and put an effort to speak our own language at home. Because Manipuri language is our identity and since we are quite a small in number, a serious effort should be made. We must collectively make collective effort to work and improve our mother tongue.

There was a time when Manipuri enjoyed high status and Manipuri culture and dance was patronaged by the Kings and its Ministers, but due to the mass exodus from the then East Pakistan and merger with Independent India, the status of Manipuri had come down that there was a stage where Manipuri community started speaking in Bengali and started wearing sari like the Bengalis in order to co-exist and adapt the situation at that time.

Manipuri had become mostly minority community by that time. Now a day's a sense of reawakening has dawn over the Manipuris in Tripura, we have start using our surname of a clan with our name this was not so much in practice in the early 60s &70s. I am happy to see that many things are changing now, and moving towards a positive progress".

It was indeed a pleasure to chat with Oja. I have learnt so much from him. Oja is an asset to Tripura Manipuri literature. He is able to carve a niche for himself in the literary tradition of Tripura Manipuri literature. His long four decades of literary journey encompass a complete picture of Manipuri in Tripura. His contributions are remarkable and valuable.

Concluded ...

* Dr Anuradha Nongmaithem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, NIT Agartala and
can be reached at dranuradha nongmaithem(AT)
This article was webcasted on August 27 2023 .

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