Celebrations, hang over and spill over

Samarjit Kambam *

New Year Revellers from in and around Imphal City enjoying a New Year picnic at Singda Dam on January 1st 2016.
New Year Revellers enjoying a New Year picnic at Singda Dam on January 1st 2016 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

The bygone year 2014 heralded with a promising start but ended like a coitus-interruptus. IED bombs showered like heavy rainfall of a good monsoon in different places of Manipur killing many innocents just like the previous year. In fact, the promising beginning had a compromising end.

Number of conflicts among various ethnic groups and death toll of civilians escalated. Unemployment reached an all-time high. Drug trafficking climbed up the charts. Rapes and molestations were a regular affair. We cannot bring bring back the dead ones to life but at least we see a small ray of hope that fake encounters taking place in Manipur 'do exist' have been acknowledged by the Supreme Court.

We the people of Manipur sincerely express our gratitude to Miss Irom Sharmila Devi, the Iron Lady for without her super-struggle, the issue of fake encounters would have faded into oblivion. We are, therefore, about to bade 2015 farewell and embrace the new year 2016 with renewed hope, vigour, enthusiasm and faith for a much better year, a year of peace, prosperity and happiness.

So, two celebrations will take place one for biding adieu the old year and one for welcoming the new year which ironically commenced with a leftover of woe of logjam wherin the tribal people term ILP as anti-tribal. Only God knows what the new year 2016 hold in store for us. Its like beginning the day with a bad hairdo when you are about to go on a date. Looking from the other side of the fence, heralding into a new year means we are getting older by one year, one step closer to our natural death.

So, is there any reason to rejoice? I am not a pessimist but its a fact and nothing can be truer. Once a friend of mine who is a staunch member of Satjaal commonly known as UFO(Universal Friendship Organisation), a civil organization which stands for protection of tradition and indigenous culture of Manipur, particularly the Meetei community which have many branches in every nook and corner of valley area of Manipur took me to one of its branches at Imphal East area on a bright and sunny Sunday morning.

As soon as we reached there, I saw the members of the organisation busying themselves with their charter of duties, some sweeping, some watering the garden, some putting things in order and some arranging chairs in a circle and the likes. In the corner I saw an old man which they say was the oldest member of that particular branch of the organi- sation, busying himself by cutting something with a small knife on a piece of wooden plank totally absorbed in his work like a rocket scientist, oblivious of the ambience.

On closer scrutiny that 'something' turned out to be marijuana(ganja). Then the members took bath near the river bank of Imphal river(using bathing soap is a big No No) and got ready for some serious business. They seemed to be highly organised and every move they made looked quite disciplined with every members performing their tasks without orders from anyone. The old man was an octogenarian who had been under the influence of marijuana for more than forty five years (I really wondered how he lasted that long).

When I saw the properly arranged chairs, I asked him whether any VIP or leader of their organization would be paying a visit, he replied without looking up "We have to clean our surroundings, put everything in order, clean our body and mind before our serious business because, you know, its serious". Later on I realised the seriousness of the situation each one of them sitting on a plastic chair and having a round table 'ganja conference'.

The old man told me, "The first puff from the small cylindrical pot which they call "Kankra" is what matters most for it is the first thought that comes to our mind during the first puff of ganja smoke that does the serious work. If you have a clean body and mind, then you will have a clean, creative and wholesome thought for the rest of the day". Then they passed the kankra from one to the next anti-clockwise.

Gradually, they started their conference on various issues with topics ranging from past, present to future including tradition, arts, culture, science and technology, defense, security, prosperity, economics and even protection of their members in case of an apocalypse or armageddon take place on planet earth as a result of a world- wide nuclear showdown or a big asteroid hitting our planet, the earth standing still abruptly, rotation of the earth in the opposite direction, invasion by aliens from another galaxy etc, etc.

Everything they discussed were really interesting, nice to hear, impressive and hypnotizing, making me feel like Alice in Wonderland, sorry, Hazzyland. It seemed as though the best brains of the world were congregated there. Even Albert Einstein would shy away at their manifold theories of science and Steve Jobs would have stirred in his grave and Mark Zuckerberg would run away in shame on hearing their high- level discussion on technology. They discussed about their goals and targets for the day and then it went on and on.

Whether their discussion materialised to any tangible or result-oriented solution by the end of the day is for all to see and I need not elaborate further for I think you all have known better than me. Sometimes I asked to myself, "What's so great about celebrating New Year?". Then suddenly the few words from that octogenarian, "the first thought that comes to the mind" suddenly rang like an alarm clock inside my mind. On the beginning of each new year i.e. 1st January, people make new year's resolution, pray for a better, colourful, prosperous and peaceful one, throw away bad habits and practices and embrace good ones and live a positive life (sic, not HIV positive).

People celebrate the 1st January of each year with the belief and faith that each day of the new year glides on smoothly, gala all the way, keeping away at bay any mishap, unwanted incidents, crimes, illness etc etc. We believe and hope that if the first day of the new year goes on well, then the rest of the days of the year will follow well. From an optimistic point of view its really nice thinking, for it shows that we as human beings want happiness and peace even though the previous year winded up in doldrums.

That's what celebration of New Year is worth, only thing is that we the people of Manipur over-celebrate, we sing and shout till our throat get scorched, making noises that give migraine headache to others at the vicinity, we drive our vehicles recklessly till we ram onto other incoming vehicles, we booze till we snooze, turning ourselves into bozos. At this opportune moment I would like to add that we the people of Manipur always start with a bang and ends with a whimper. Its like a sports team boozing and hooching for losing a tournament to forget the gloominess of defeat as well as doing the same as celebration to express joy for winning a tournament.

Nevertheless, it is a day that marks, reflects and give a message that the people really want peace and happiness, a day where we hope for all the good things in life. A new year brings faith to us, faith that make us hope that things will get better, a hope which is embedded deep in our collective conscience.

Even though this new year will be kick-starting with some overdose of leftover of unpleasantries such as ILPS issue remaining raw, rising hatred amongst the different ethnic groups caused by some self-minded political honchos, umpteen bandhs and blockades, controversial hair-raising issue of cannibalism, bad roads and transportation quandary, inconveniences caused to public due to non completion of Sanjenthong, upto September 2015, unfulfilled promises by leaders of our state just like a hangover, spillover or unfinished business of the previous year 2015.

Still our spirit do not wane and our minds yearn for a year better than the previous one. Lets not lose faith and keep our hopes alive so that the new year 2016 unfolds into a very happy, prosperous, peaceful and illuminated one.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express as part of 'Roller Coaster Write' Column
This article was posted on January 07, 2016.

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