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E-Pao! EI - Please go back Home, Ma!

Please go back Home, Ma!
By: Elf Hmar *



It has been more than a year since I went home. I had plans last Christmas, but the university exam is near. How much I may want to, but the responsibility to my family, my people and my country looms enormous. The eldest of 4 children, much is expected from me. Moreover, money was another factor. It is hard to come by.

I needed to be the source soon. And I could not ask home for an extra. I already burden home by been away. Pa left early for his heavenly abode 3 years ago. I was only sixteen then, doing my class 10 far away from home. And so I missed Pa's funeral. And with Pa no more, the family looks up to me.

These thoughts, of my great task and responsibility, erase the thought of going home. And so I decided to spend the winter holiday with my books, how uninviting they might be.

But that itself was also not to be an easy task after all. As disturbing news of hardships faced back home poured in, it was tough to concentrate on my studies. And the exam day gets nearer each passing day. I tried calling home, but none pick up the ringing phone. I tried again early next morning; the phone kept on ringing without any answer.

I was more and more concerned, getting almost panicky. What might be happening over there? I tried comforting myself saying everything will be fine. But I was proved wrong two days later. Everything was not alright.

I heard the news from a friend who hails from a nearby village back home. He luckily could call home. He told me that many villagers from the region have started moving out from their villages to Mizoram against the milieu of Indian Army counter-insurgency operations and the banned United National Liberation Front (UNLF) mayhem.

I asked him about my family. But he was blank on that. He doesn't know. He was worried as much as myself. I could read that on his nervous face. His old-aged parents were home alone. They were not able to fled along with others. Most of the villagers have fled, and only a few who could not, remain home.

He also added that most of the villages nearby ours were now a ghost town - locked homes, deserted lane and with only a handful of inhabitants. I went back to my room in the hostel anxious ever than before for the safety of my family and our small place back home.

Parbung is a small hamlet, located in the hilly area of Churachandpur district in South-west Manipur. It is around 285 km from Imphal, the capital of Manipur state, and 223 km from Churachandpur town. Parbung is the sub-divisional block headquarters of Tipaimukh sub-division.

Normally, it takes around 3 days to cover the 223 kms from Churachandpur town to Parbung village. During the Monsoon, it takes at least around 4 days to reach the remote hamlet. Though the route is a National Highway (NH-150), it has been left unattended and unrepaired for I don't know how many years.

The village houses around 400 families with a population of approximately 2800 inhabitants, most of whom are jhum cultivators. There is one Govt. school but just for namesake of it, a defunct school for ages, with neither teacher nor students to attend.

There are 3 schools that teach up to Class VIII and ran by Christian Missions. If not for them, I will not be able to do what I am doing right now - writing!

The thoughts of my village brings back vivid memories of my childhood days playing in the dusty road, the hides and seeks with my little friends, the smell of the ground, of the fresh dew early in the morning, of the refreshing mountain air. How much I want to be back home right now! Ma, I hope you are alright?

Early next day, I received a call from Aizawl in Mizoram. I wondered who it might be. I know of no one in Aizawl. I picked up my mobile. The voice on the other end was of my Ma! Happy tears moist my eyes. How glad I am to know that Ma is well and alive. The wornness of my heart heaved greatly to know that my family has escaped safely to Mizoram.

I asked her about trouble back at home, and why our fellow villagers flee. She told me of the miseries and hardship the villagers had to face under the iron hand rule of the Meitei militants. The recollection made her shed tears; I could hear her holding back her breath and sniff. I was angry.

I was furious at the hard-handedness of those unruly people who knows nothing better to do but take away the livelihood of others, rob them of their rights and freedom.

I felt handicapped. What can I do? What should I do? I clenched my fist frustrated. I spat on the ground. But I was helpless.

I asked Ma when they plan to go back home. She told me, she doesn't want to return to suffer the tyranny of the militants. She told me she would look for some work here, maybe sell vegetables, or work as servant with a family who would want to accommodate them. My heart was shattered - Ma working as a servant?

We are a poor family, I understand. But the word servant is new to me. I kept quiet. I asked Ma to contact the authorities and register at one of the displacement camps set up in Mizoram and to stay there till the situation back home return to normalcy. She told me again that she wouldn't go back home.

There is no hope for them anymore there. I was dumb-founded.

I cried and pleaded, "But Ma! That's our land, our home. My land, my home! You have to go back. You need to go back. I am coming back.

I want my soul to rest beneath the ground walked by my father and those before him. Nobody can rob me of my soul!

I am returning Ma.

Please go back home, Ma!"


* Elf Hmar contributes for the first time to e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at elfhmar@yahoo.com
This article was webcasted on March 06, 2006.



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