TODAY -

My very Meitei hometown

Ranjita Laishram *

Sun set at Uyok Ching , Kakching, Manipur on May 23 2012
Sun set at Uyok Ching , Kakching, Manipur on May 23 2012 :: Pix - Jackson Konjengbam



So a friend visited home for a week's vacation recently. The last time she landed in Imphal was 6 years ago, to attend her sister's wedding. Since she was coming home after a long time, I decided to play guide and take her around in and around Imphal city. The first plan was to visit few places and feast on local delicacies singju, bora, momos at famous eateriesin the little dust ridden city.

We started off first for Awang Potsangbam in Sekmai. The moment I picked her up from her place, the first eye sore she complained about was the garbage dump on the Nambul river all along the Keishamthong stretch. She had a scarf of a length that would wound her from head to toe, almost.

She covered her head and face lest the dust and stench would seep into her system and start ruining her anatomy. She was paranoid. It wasn't easy for her, or perhaps. Once we crossed Khongnaang-anikaarak, the dust had settled down and the hills far away were visible.

This did the trick all along the slightly winding road until we reached Sekmai bazaar which was like another Paona Bazaar in Imphal. The place rustled with people and their load to sell and purchase.

An unusual crowd caught our attention and we walked there to find out what was happening. And lo! We heard biddings on one absent 'tekkogekko' a chameleon look-like supposedly believed to bring in good charms if owned. Now, there's a reflection of my Manipur there.

After asking for directions a couple of times, our driver was disappointed we hadn't gotten to the destination yet. So we gave up and headed home after momos and very watery soup at Nikhil's.

The next day we went for a typical Manipuri chaaluk at Narsimha temple. Dressed in sombre white clothing, we left behind our walled up attitude and otherwise reckless behaviour before entering the temple gate.

After offering prayers, all were seated waiting for the 'lukhaabi- bayaarani' announcement. In that solemn gathering, some guy had to flaunt his iPhone and another his galaxy note with that 'oh look at me' loudness and had all heads and eyes turned towards them. Oh so typical. So Meitei that was. For God's sake, that was just a phone and not a gold medal you won for the state.

The chaaluk was good and so the experience of sitting down on the floor to eat off from the banana leaf.

As a last one, we decided to visit Uyok hillock in Kakching before she left for Delhi.

We effectively petrified her with stories of how vehicles that ply on that route were expropriated with threat.

Lest we run into a similar episode, she announced we head home before it got dark. The Kakching garden on top of Uyok was spectacular. It was a resplendent view at sunset with seasonal flowers in full bloom after the dry panoramic scene enroute. We hurried ourselves for few clicks when we heard a bunch of guys droning at us...'nangdithamoikanbini, nangdiminungsikhangdabini.' So much for a trip to see some flowers bloom. Our Meitei paakhangs would never let go off an opportunity to tease a leishabi, even on a hillock. The brazenness was bold and unabashed that left us aghast.

As a wrapping up meet before she took off, I paid a final visit at her place in Keishamthong and that's where I met her aunt. Though I had nothing to do with her aunt, strangely she was very proud of my 'officer' tag. The next normal question she had for me was how much I had spent for that job position. 8 lakhs is absolutely nothing for a job like mine, or she thinks so. Even a primary teacher's job would cost anyone 10 lakhs depending on the contacts one had. I know she spoke the truth, but I found it outrageously attacking my sanity.

I am suddenly being pulled and looped in that category. So much for a Manipur government service! My pride and honesty was being attacked. But I kept quiet. It made me think. Until the time is right to stand up and fight, I shall keep mute. I'd just hope it won't be too late then.

Oh what is to become of dear Sanaleibak Manipur! my friend sighed. We both agreed on the urgent need for a dawn that would awaken Kangleipak.

Until that morning we all toil the night, for truth to rule as the glorious rays of the sun shine upon the hills and valley. Until then, we hope.


* Ranjita Laishram wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 28, 2013



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