TODAY -

A Different Stroke of Existentialism

JC Sanasam *

Children hand over their favourite toys before the toy guns were consigned to flames to highlight criminal activities in Manipur
Children hand over their favourite toys before the toy guns were consigned to flames to highlight criminal activities in Manipur :: Pix - TSE



My youngest son will grow up an adult soon enough; he may be educated, but the chance of finding a suitable job for him is likely to be a tough fight. He has to prepare himself for the worst. There may not be slots for jobs or employment; but in Manipur, howsoever risky it is, there is always a room for minting money...

One Sunday morning, about 20 years back, I visited my friend Ibochouba who resides in an isolated house at the northeastern corner of our neighbourhood. It had been pretty long since I saw him last. When I reached the periphery of his courtyard, I found him and his youngest son, about 5 years old then, playing a peculiar kind of game.

They were each hiding from the other at the nooks and corners, at the same time chasing one after the other around the house and shooting at each other with mimicking crackle sounds of gun shots artificially emitted from their mouths; the father with serial single shots of a revolver and the son with staccato rapid fires of AK-52 rifle, which the father explained later.

Both of them did not notice my presence there and continued with their game earnestly. Yes, the son held a Kangjei, made of a bamboo stem and its curved root half split, the replica of a hockey stick; but for the game seemingly representing AK-52 rifle; and the father clasped his right hand with his left hand, the index finger pointing out from his right hand, clenched into a fist in the form of a short hand-gun.

Eventually, the son turned out to be on the upper hand. The father rushed inside the house and the son sprinted in after him. It was so amusing to watch; so I, as a spectator, followed them in the house. They were found crouching, taking hide-shelters behind the centre table, wooden sedan chairs and sofa-like seats in their front-visiting-room at the same time shooting at each other vigorously whenever opportunities came.

The father ultimately saw me, stopped the game and grinned at me mockingly as he welcomed me. At this moment the son silently pounced upon his father and nudged finally the hind part of his father's head with the tip of his AK-52. The father raised his hands up in the air and said, 'Surrendered, surrendered! You've won. You've acquired the skill very good; now let me chat with your uncle.'

I asked Ibochouba, 'What kind of game is that?'

'Ah! I'm training my son so that he won't be defeated in life.'

'How? In such a situation when violence has spilled everywhere in our land and everybody condemning it now?'

'I'm following the philosophy of existentialism. The first priority of existing in life is food, clothing and shelter. Man will always be forced to act in different strokes in his strife to keep these requirements within his reach. No food, no life.

My youngest son will grow up an adult soon enough; he may be educated, but the chance of finding a suitable job for him is likely to be a tough fight. He has to prepare himself for the worst. There may not be slots for jobs or employment; but in Manipur, howsoever risky it is, there is always a room for minting money.

He can join an outfit, an organisation of people in possession of guns and power. When things become too dangerous, he will have to surrender; he will be rehabilitated no doubt, but there may be every likelihood of him to be given a job, may it be with guns or with no guns.

That is an easier way of getting employed instead of paying ten lakhs blindly for a job. After paying out such large sums you may be left in the lurch; and there shall be no way out to get the money back. You haven't read what Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre of France said? This is the "ism", the cult of the post World War II twentieth century; that is existentialism.'

'Oh, sure, I have', I lied to him and I cut it out there. Otherwise, Ibochouba would have continued his usual long lecture.

Ibochouba is a keen reader of world philosophies and ideologies.

After these 20 years, the other day, I entered a private hospital. At the entrance, one security young man greeted me, 'Uncle, what problem have you had for yourself?' He said he was the youngest son of Ibochouba.

I was wondering if he had undergone the rituals his father prescribed for him 20 years back. Such things happen every day as common incidences in Manipur.

Is it a mockery or a satire or irony or just hypocrisy?


* JC Sanasam wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on February 29, 2012.



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