The man with a golden heart

Kakai Singsit *

On the 22nd December, 2019 a man of substance was heading home for Christmas but stopped over at Motbung Baptist Church and attended the morning service. The unannounced visit of this stranger flanked by gun-toting escorts and a host of retinues created a lot of fuss and confusion among the Church goers.

This unassuming VIP refused to be introduced, made his guards stand outside the Church campus and humbly sat on one of the empty benches. On being prodded he reluctantly disclosed his identity.

At the drop of the hat, the Church elders requested him to take a seat on the stage normally set aside for the Church elders or revered personalities. Not only that, he was also offered to speak to the congregation, a chance seldom given to a layman. You might be high and mighty but inside the Church you’re just a laity as the Church elders take precedence over all else. He was given a grand reception.

It seems Sir Dikho was fascinated by this behemoth edifice, standing firm and majestic, by the National Highway. He confided that he had always yearned to stop over and be a part of that congregation which he ultimately did.

Unlike his other counterparts he did not hanker after media attention for his deeds and conduct but chose to keep it out of the limelight. As he left, silently he slid a bundle for the Christmas celebration leaving the congregation gasping.

This impromptu visit was attributed to me though I was remotely connected with it. One Church elder called me up and even thanked me for the role I did not play. I denied but he was unconvinced.

It is purely fortuity that I stumbled across this down-to-earth gentleman in the month of March this year during a parley with the Government representatives pertaining to the gratuitous delay of the ADC election. He was deputed to resolve the matter. Two other Ministers and three MLAs were also present.

Though the meeting failed to break the ice with both sticking to their stated positions but one golden strand was a personal bonhomie was built up with him from that day. He took pains in trying to find solutions but the only hitch was that he was not given the final say on the matter as it was tucked away somewhere in Babupara.

Again it was fortuity that we bumped into one another during another parley with Kangpokpi CSOs on certain demands made to the Government. As the meeting was over, at the reflex, he pulled out a wad and handed it over to the leaders for their conveyance much to the chagrin of the district MLAs.

Kangpokpi district is bequeathed with three MLAs but none had the heart and generosity to contribute for the extension KSO-Sadar hills office rather they chose to give them the cold shoulder. It was again this magnanimous gentleman from Mao AC who saved them the blushes. Why can’t our MLAs be like Dikho ?

Though this noble soul is a stranger in Kangpokpi district but he never shies away from reaching out to anyone who knocks at his door. He isn’t from our community but he doesn’t give a hoot because he believes in the universal brotherhood of mankind nor will this altruism increase his vote bank but he did it without batting an eyelid.

Mind you this man has got the heart of gold and whatever charity he had done is purely the outcome of his munificent heart. This must be the reason why he is so endearing to people cutting across barriers.

There are MLAs who have been elected for stupendous number of terms, held important portfolios earning huge fortune, then stashing up all those earnings somewhere unknown but are skinflints in nature. Again there are people who have modest income yet munificent. So being generous is not everybody’s cup of tea but for people gifted with a compassionate frame of mind.

I was acquainted with one MLA who was elected thrice. Years back he invited me and my team for an important discussion. A lame man with a crutch gate-crashed into our meeting pleaded him for some monetary assistance to meet his medical expenses. It was just a few hundred bucks. The MLA left never to return without even having the courtesy to inform us. The meeting ended inconclusively. Humiliated we left in a huff. He is considered to be the one of the richest men in our society but when it comes to charity he is stone cold.

I know another MLA who is a miser to the core. Whenever people approached him for charitable purposes he had this habit of telling them that he’s stone broke and won’t be contesting the next election just to keep them at bay. As this pretext became overused one student organization came up with a press release giving him a taste of his own medicine.

When politicians extend a hand of benevolence it’s invariably done with a string attached. Nothing is given free of cost but with an eye for votes or to grab media attention. It would be heartening if an act of charity is done selflessly and motivated by the desire to help and with no axe to grind.

Large sums of money are doled out for the construction of Church or other religious structures anticipating votes from those Church members. This repugnant trend of dragging the Church into the pitfall of unsavory politics is tainting its hallowed character. Church should divorce itself from worldly politics and focus on the spiritual aspects. Unfortunately most of our politicians have got this detestable habit of bartering everything for votes even if it amounts to tainting the very sanctity of the Church itself.

When you reach out to people without any string attached then that defines the true meaning and purpose of charity. If you nurture that kind selflessness you earn the approval and admiration of others. Most of the politicians confine their philanthropy within the four walls of their Constituency and spurn outsiders. However, exceptions are seen when it comes to his own community or kindred.

For instance, a Naga MLA from Ukhrul may have no qualm in helping out another Naga from Chandel or Tamenglong though they may not necessarily belong to the same tribe. The zeal and jingoism of being a Naga may be the driving force. Similarly, a liberal minded MLA from the Kuki community may have no qualm in reaching out to a Naga or Meitei.

But these are exceptional and rare. This is because of our fragility, self and community centricism- a blot that lies with every citizen of Manipur.

A Meitei will have more empathy for his Meitei kindred and might not inculcate the same amount of empathy towards the other community. Even among the tribals there exist a sharp chasm in the name of Naga or Kuki Nationalities further stratified down into tribes and then into clans, so and on. This clan/class/tribe-consciousness that is being ossified into our myopic and prejudicial mentalities has also enormously manifested in our charitable behaviors. Weird but true.

In conformity with our parochial habits a person who transcends community and geographical barriers when it comes to charity should be bestowed with certain degree of halo or a tinge of greatness. Based on those parameters Mr Dikho, the MLA from Mao AC deserves to be catapulted to that enviable position when it comes to giving without asking for anything in return.

And this pedestal position that has been invested on him ought to be tested by the fire of the happiness and contentment of his Constituency people. Based on modest research, few nosiness and eave-droppings I have come to the conclusion that he must be the only MLA in the entire 20 hill Constituency who keeps the majority of his Constituency people in good humor.

I have some old chums from his home turf who belong to the rival camp but still speak highly of him. This clinches everything.

Asked anyone from Senapati district, any community, any CSO leader or any man on the street they’ll testify it. Even his detractors have good words for him. This is something remarkable at the same breath unusual in politics. One important leader from Chandel even avowed that “Dikho is like God for his organization”. I thought he was talking to one of his fancy hats but now I realize that his words carry conviction for the good work he has done found reverberations everywhere.

I was thrown off the balance on being told that he had taken an important role for the completion of Ngulhao Theological Seminary, Motbung christened after the name of the first Thadou who had embraced Christianity. This touched the core of my foundations as my admirations for this man swell exponentially.

The Manipur Theological College at Kangpokpi Mission Compound has also greatly benefited his benevolent hand. The lists of his munificence never seem to end but keeps on multiplying. I’ve seen students, CSOs, women folks and activists from all over India converging at his quarter in droves with one identical objective- fund drive.

It is said that nobody returns empty handed from Dikho’s home. This man has got an uncanny flair for giving and has truly mastered this aesthestic art. This must be the reason why his generosity is acclaimed far and wide thus goading my conscience to write this piece of eulogy. What he has done is stupendous and unparalleled so deserves our collective appreciation.

Politicians should pick a leaf or two from Dikho’s book and never shy away from helping out those in need whether they are from his Constituency, his community or not. Whatever he had done is truly commendable and truly worth emulating. My message to them is be like Dikho. Do good for it is the right thing to do and not the other way round. Don’t enter politics if you are a skinflint.

How I wistfully wish that Saitu AC has an MLA like this quintessential gentleman- Dikho.

* Kakai Singsit wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 17 2021.

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