TODAY -

Potholes-The ghosts that haunts the champion's road
— A traveller's nightmare —

Ceety Khongsai *



The state of a road leading towards the market at Lamphel



The National Games Village, popularly known as En Gee Bee (NGV) in slang Manipuri, is nestled at the foothills of Langol in Imphal west district of Manipur. It is connected with other parts of the state via Imphal West DC route in, the northwest and Imphal-Kangchup road through lroisemba in the southwest. The picturesque village, a replica of the gigantic Titanic ship in its night view is just a discuss-throw distance from the heart of the city. Notably, the route from Imphal West DC to Games Village has been named after the 5th time International Women's Boxing Champion & London Olympic Games 2012 Bronze Medallist, MC Mary Kom by the state government in recognition, appreciation and honour of her unparallel feats in international boxing.

In fact, the Magnificent Mary, as affectionately called by her admirers, has scripted a new chapter in the annals of Indian sports by putting this little known tiny state in the international map of sports. The distinctive feature of the village is about the Babel of dialects spoken by the residents representing the myriad ethnic tribes of our state co-existing peacefully in a spirit of 'live and let live'. Indeed, the village is a miniature of India's diversity but inseparably glued together by the belief in traditional folklores of hill-valley brotherhood. While visiting the village one has the good chances of spotting the world famous Sangai- the Second Home of this rare species lies in the western side of Sadar Hills' Langol range overlooking the Games Village.

In the past, as may be experienced by all, one inevitably have to undergo an arduous task of 'self introduction' among the long-nose, hairy bodied and protruding eyed mainland Indians in broken Hindi trying one's best as if appearing the IAS Mains (Viva voce) to convince the average six feet tall, oblique face Aryan offshoots that 'I am Indian' in spite of being an Indian by birth. The recent incidents of Delhi Police crackdown on north easterners and the racial profiling of north east students in other parts of the country speaks in volumes about the racial exclusion of the north east people. Sadly, the champion herself was a victim of racism, and that too, in the heart of the national capital.

Believe it or not, the world vied for Mary Kom, and some even thought of buying her citizenship to represent their country in international championships. Despite keeping the world at her feet, knocking down all her rivals in 48 kg category championships, representing India as her country, the people whom she represented mistook her as Nepali! Nevertheless, a diminutive tribal lady boxer from a little known Khangathei, a remote village in the southern district of Manipur, with her indomitable spirit of sportsmanship and passion for excellence has incredibly out class all of her rivals in a spectacular display of her exceptional prowess in the boxing arena whereby introducing the people of Manipur, you and I, in front of eminent sports personalities of the world by becoming a consecutive 5th time world champion. And now, one need not necessarily be troubled with the introduction of Manipur to the outside world because the champion has done for all of us in the boxing ring amidst hundreds and thousands of cheering fans.

However, the M.C. Mary Kom road which connects the Nesnen Game Billage (National Games Village) and other parts of the state is not better than the bullock cart route of the most backward l7th century Imphal-Saikul road. Amusingly, after many unreported accidents along the champion's road, the state government has recently taken up repairing works upto the Zone-IV crossing whereas all the inter village routes passing through Iroisemba Zoological Park are left unrepaired causing untold miseries to the villagers.

It may be noted that the 'hathu hathu' (hastily) repairing work is far from perfection and can appropriately be categorised as 'road plastering works' in lieu of repairing work. The much parroted 'quality works' by ministers in public podiums is mere deceptive stratagem to intoxicate public minds. Almost all contract works being allotted to relatives of the ministers the talk of quality is just a farce; because the investigative eyes of the departments are blinded by ministers-contractors relations.

Moreover, any person visiting a relative in the NGV will experienced the most horrible nightmare unforgettable in one's lifetime. The inter-village roads and by-lanes are filled with terrible potholes so much so that frogs and toads of different breeds abound the village as if the village was built for them. For the villagers, nothing is more disgusting than living together with toads and frogs as personal bodyguards while snakes surrounds the quarters acting as hired sentries and the well muscled infiltrated Moreh frogs with croaky voices assuming the night patrol duty along the snaky long road.

In a way, the rare opportunity of seeing these rare species with one's personal eyes is given to the villagers free of cost but becoming snake bite victim(s) is what the residents fear about. On the other hand, these potholes become a blessing for the roadside workshop owners and car accessory stores. The monthly servicing or repairing charges of vehicles due to damages caused by the potholes are silently borne by the vehicle owners, all government servants, to ensure regular attendance in their respective offices; they have to eke out from their hard earned monthly salaries as servicing charges and the expenditure of which is not calculated in their accumulated pay structures. In fact, these knee-deep potholes serve as destroyers of jerking pumps and bushings of small and medium type vehicles.

In rainy seasons, while driving along the muddy-slushy champion's road, one need to be extra cautious in order to avoid verbal missile attacks especially when vehicles comes from opposite direction. The milky waters and splashes of mud from the force of the running vehicles have the magical powers of transforming one's vehicle instantly without spending a penny at the workshops. Painfully, the scornful verbal attacks and counter­attacks in the meanest Manipuri vocabularies like 'Hui***u', 'Shak***', 'Hao***', 'Tam***' etc etc with disdainful eyes of arrows fired upon the opponent driver(s) and vice versa tormented the conscience of one's sense of etiquette and civilised nature when the tempo of 'non-sense(ness)' subsides.

Whose fault is it anyway? Neither I nor the opponent driver(s) but negligence of the government is the root of all evils. Is this the way we honour our champion? Or does M.C. Mary Kom need another world title to draw the attention of the state government to make the road motorable? Will the red carpet reception and honour given to athletes in other states be commensurate by naming this potholes road after the champion's name? Let the good conscience of our ministers be awakened by the historic first ever India's Olympic Medal (Women Boxing) won by Hmangte Chungneijang Mary Kom who would henceforth be remember as legendary Manipuri tribal lady boxer the world over.


* Ceety Khongsai wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on August 21, 2012.



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