Straight from the Soul of my Heart
Part - II

By Pangamba777 *

And this question got me into thinking. I wonder many times why they don't ask, 'Are you from Manipur' instead of this often 'Are you from Assam' tag. Why not Manipur? This got me into thinking further. And it's worth giving a second thought to it.

'I am from Manipur.' I snapped back with a forced smile, a short reply without uttering a word further. I wondered if he ever heard that name.

But nother guy in the parlor, maybe a customer like me, who had been listening to our conversations chipped in.

'Manipur is a border state in the north-east. Right?'

Border? I don't know why I came to this parlor in the first place. I felt quietly frustrated inside and I was going down and down -- inside. Border? Well okay, fine; I had to accept the fact because he was right. Yes, it is a border state in the NE. But sometimes it does hurt to swallow a simple truth.

I thought maybe that guy still remembered his high school geography well. And anyway after all, I felt happy that someone recognized my home state -- at least by its name and its geographical location. Down here it's a rare thing you would always anticipate.

'Yeah, you are right', I said, and continued, 'It's one of the eight north-east states now.' showing off my up-to-date GK.

'I hear a lot of news of violence and killings going on now in Manipur. Is that true?' That guy continued.

I was taken aback again in surprise by his up-to-date infos on my state. How on earth would he know all these about a remote state like Manipur for which there is a famine of news going on in the 'mainland newsland'.

As if Manipuri news item is a taboo in the 'mainland newsland' just as sex is a taboo in the society. I mean I look into Times of India, the largest circulating English national daily in India, every morning to see if anything about Manipur is there but only to find a blank space where they could have filled a Manipuri news item.

Only when CM's bungalow was attacked could I see it on the paper. What about the frequent on-and-off bunds, economic blockades that are going on there every now and then? Are these less important, less reportable items than those that are being reported?

I certainly don't think so. What about the everyday killings, murders, you name it, it's all there happening in a small state somewhere in the north-eastern Indian border called Manipur.

It all happens in Manipur. A Happening State! whether you like it or not. And it's going down and down as sun rises each morning everyday. And worse...

And people down here are totally ignorant of what's exactly going on in a far flung state like Manipur.

I came to know, suddenly, I was taking a deep-dive thinking into these issues, for which there are no concrete solutions yet. And I came back from my reverie sooner.

Anyway I felt happy that somewhere down here, someone, who has nothing to do with Manipur, is following closely of what's going on in Manipur.

But the next moment I was disappointed.

'I think Naxalites are behind all the problems there, I guess.' That guy said.

Naxalites in Manipur? An alien new thing to my ear. But it's a fact, people down here think this way. Wrong understanding, wrong facts, wrong perception. And it's going to take a long time to educate these people down here - where there is a famine of news going on right now about this remote Indian state - to feel the reality of the problems - vexed problems that are going on now in Manipur.

At last, I sighed, and without answering his question, a few moments later I simply said. 'Naxalites are different than what's going on there. Manipur's is a law-and-order problem.' An easy and politically correct answer. And I didn't want to say anything further.

Before he could probably ask another question, I knew I had to leave the parlor - very soon, otherwise it was going to lead to somewhere. And it will be like beating a dead horse.

As soon as I possibly could, I paid the bill. And I was about to leave the exit door, when that guy said.

'I hear that Manipur is one of the beautiful states in India. I wanted to visit someday. But you know what, I have changed my mind. Now I would rather go to Sikkim for my holidays'.

Suddenly I felt a sudden pang inside me. I saw undeniable truths buried in those few words he said. I had to swallow another bitter truth that day. It hurts. But I couldn't do anything. I had to accept it but I didn't know what to say next. No words came out of my lips. But I had to go.

And at last, I gave a brief forced smile -- without another word, and he grinned back in return.

I returned back to my apartment carrying inside my head the babel of reverberating voices of the non-Manipuri guy I met in the parlor -- 'I hear that Manipur is one of the beautiful states in India. I wanted to visit someday. But you know what -- I have changed my mind. Now I would rather go to Sikkim for my holidays.'

That night I couldn't sleep, and I was not in a mood to write an email for my friend that I planned before. Instead, I watched the Manipuri movie 'Mami Sami' from Youtube, to divert my troubled mind to something else. And it turned out to be awesome and lovely. [I watched it till half, I have yet to watch the other half, as I couldn't find the other half on Youtube].

But the movie was also all about the same issues that were running through my mind that night. I felt no better.

And still today I hear the babel of echoes of those words of the guy I met in the parlor.


* Pangamba777( a resident of Mumbai) writes regularly to . You can contact the writer at pangamba777(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in . This article was webcasted on December 12, 2008.

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