TODAY -

E-Pao! EI - Image Problem

Image Problem

By: H Lienzamang Gangte *


As I walk past the vandalized signboard at Thengra Leirak which bore the brunt of CDSUís fury over its Mayek content, I mull over myriads of things.

Sixty seconds prior to that, I bumped into a dear old friend who is a resident of the Leirak. We were thick as thieves during our high school days, together editing our schoolís Bulletin.

Now, heís settled, drives a car and never fails to pull my leg over my elongated single status. I was still reeling under the stupor of this encounter when I com across the signboard that welcomes one to Thengra Leirak in English, Manipuri and Meitei Mayek.

The fact that the signboard had to be the collateral damage in humans fateful war against humans shock me no end. All rays of thought zoomed into a story penned by Satyajit Ray that I read a couple of months ago.

It is blandly titled ĎRatan Babu and That Man.í

A clerk in the Geological Survey for 24 years, Ratan Babu is a picture of a man in control of himself. Single and financially sound, traveling- once a year when office permits, is an obsession for him.

RB is a man of queer taste and travels to places where most would not go let alone holiday. Due to his distinct likes and dislikes, he is convinced that heís indigenous. While holidaying at a place called Shini, he encountered a man by the name of Manilal Babu.

By all estimations, Manilal Babu was an exact copy of Ratan Babu.

They get thrilled at the sight of trains, drew equal salary and received exactly the same Puja bonuses. As events developed, the discovery of another person exactly like him began to butt in on the psyche of RB.

The similarity in their age, profession, voice, gait and even the power of their glasses haunts RB like a spook. The presence of his proverbial twin nagged on his self-styled freedom of existence. His sovereignty over his realm in the world, RB felt, was being invaded.

Thus, he devised a plan, the success of which led to the brutal murder of MB whom he pushed to the path of a running train.

RBís predicament does not end there though. He began to take the person of MB like in checking into MBís hotel instead of his.

At the end of it all, he was done to death ala the same way heíd used to end MBís life by an invisible hand that push him to the path of a speeding train.

In the place where Ratan Babu stood, remains nothing but an aluminium box with betel nuts in it. So much for a man whoís independent and self assured.

Isnít our pickle that of alikeness too? Whatís so indigenous about us? In fact, what is so distinctly independent about a person that frees him from the realms of the other? The search for exclusiveness will only fetch us more heartburns and malice.

In a diverse setting as ours, hardliners can only burn. Chauvinists usually are at the other end of what is practicable.

Take the case of BJP and Uniform Civil Code. Despite the latter being included in the Directive Principles vide Article 44; it is not enforced owing to the non-contiguous nature of our demography.

Exclusion is not advisable much less practicable as a means for survival in this cosmopolitan world. There are too many Ratan Babus among us and behold! How we let them have the reign.

The self-preservation that we resorted to has led to too many precious lives being sacrificed for no worthy cause as their lives. If learning Mayek is going to invigorate our malaise, come on, bring it on. If learning the same is going to prevent the re-enactment of Parbungate, letís buy the Primer today. It canít be that we let zealots run amok, shredding the social fabric.

This is not to concede that there are no RBs in the hills. In fact, atop their fortified councils and organizations, the tribal RBs are a class act of their own. Except for their myopic parochialism, everything else about them is pretty credible.

Their version of a story within a story distracts one from the bigger picture. There is too much push and shove to look different, sound different and live differently even as nature is not permitting.

The din and fury of it is taking its expensive toll on our children we, as a matter of habit, undo ourselves with glee and ťlan that are both unmatched.

At this pace, the day is not far when in our place, this tiny corner of a site that we killed for, would remain nothing but a dilapidated signpost, the last sign of our existence.


* H. Lienzamang Gangte, a freelancer from Churachandpur , contributes to e-pao.net regularly. The writer can be contacted at glienza(at)sify(dot)com . This article was webcasted on May 24th, 2007.


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