TODAY -

A Visit :: A Short Story
- Part 2 -

Uttamkumari Yumkham *

Enshang Mathel  at Ningol Chakouba celebration at Bristol United Kingdom :: November 8 2008
Enshang Mathel at Ningol Chakouba celebration at Bristol United Kingdom on November 8 2008 :: Pix - Dr. Krishnananda Samurailatpam



Life as we know and feel is nothing but a desire , a passion to live and enjoy every moment , every breath so that we can be a part of this big or small world as you called it to avoid that human loneliness and understand the man or the woman or whatever soul that is inside a human being. Like any other day , today , I flipped through the pages of the local newspapers and catch some interesting headlines like tomorrow, there will be general strike because the police captured some leaders of MKL and they fail to release them and even the government didn't listen , their demands fell on deaf ears so they imposed the bandh .

MKL is the name of a revolutionary party or gang , in the name of granting Manipur as an independent state, they openly take their shares or percentage of money or bills or contracts ranging from a small rickshaw driver to the highest and honourable CM of Manipur. They think they are the wisest and true vanguards who still keep the traditions and cultures of Manipuri society intact .

The people although conscious of their bad motives cannot openly revolt , instead they try to support or lend a helping hand because they are afraid and yes why not , they have coercive powers and they can either hurt or kill someone for the sake of money or power. The government also have coercive powers but that is open to everyone and the rising problems of unemployment of educated youths and corruption and bribery to purchase government jobs are still rampant . This is the present status of Manipur and Manipuri society is deteriorating day by day .

Even Sharmila , a Manipuri lady have been nose feeding by the government for so many years because she had decided that she will fast until death if the draconian AFSPA or the Arms forces special power act is not removed .The word Draconian have been most often used by journalists and have become synonymous with the act and now it is used by everyone with regard to this act because this act is dangerous , I didn't know the details of this act or what ! the act entails but I have a vague idea that the Indian Army are given special powers to shoot anyone if they find the person suspicious , also they can arrest anyone without an arrest warrant .

This act is imposed on what the Indian government tagged as the 'disturbed areas ' , these being the North eastern states viz. Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya. I cannot remember that day but it was an unfortunate day , the paramilitary force opened fire at a bus stop near Malom in Manipur and about ten people were killed in the incident and this shocking incident aroused Sharmila to take a very strong stance to do fast unto death. I heard from someone that this act is also imposed in Jammu and Kashmir .

Also strange things happen in this land and it's a pity that some women staged a nude protest in front of the Assam rifles Headquaters at Kangla fort in Imphal over the alleged and custodial death of a woman called Manorama who is assumed to be a member of some revolutionary party. Life in Manipur is really terrible if some outsider comes and stay and get to know more about what is happening actually, but the Manipuris are used or accustomed to all these things and they take life as it comes like the sun rising from the east every day , there is no inspiration to lead a very happy life , also there is no hope for a revolution like the terrible French revolution .

O, why do I mention it , why do I ponder on such unnecessary things instead of studying , I am a mad person , yes I believe , youths are supposed to be unmindful of such issues instead they should worry about romance , love , creams and lotions and pairs of jeans pant and tops and how they look and whom they will date . I finally! put t he newspapers over the stack of previous papers stored on a wooden table inside the room.

Everybody is engaged in his or her own affairs and we , a family of five , get together and some sat on the ground around the dishes but Papa always have his meal on top of a small table and usually sits on a stool and today also he does the same . Manipur's cuisine is quite different from the rest of the mainland India , we have a delicious curry known as Eromba , it is easy to prepare and also it takes little time , potatoes, red chillies ,French beans or other vegetable or bamboo shoots which are very tender are thoroughly boiled and then it is allowed to cool for some time, we use a fermented fish called Ngari , sometimes fried fish is also used , the fermented fish along with the boiled chillies and salt are thoroughly mixed to form a paste and then the remaining items are smashed onto the paste and we put some water in it and lo it's over .

Today mama prepared Eromba for us , rice is the staple food here also and we hastily finish our meal that mother prepared for us and some left for schools , some for colleges and there is no time to ponder over silly things like take care my daughter or son , behave well , be nice to people etc. ... such things have become quite old fashioned if looked from the contemporary perspective where decisions from the least important to the biggest things are taken by the person itself and private opinion have rather to say become public opinion in the case of my family .

I remember a quotation from Henry David Thoreau , from his essay civil disobedience that ' government is best which governs not at all '' . such kind of philosophy prevails in my family and we are rather free and independent persons striving to achieve whatever we have in mind but at the back of our mind we always feel ! and fe ar that freedom comes at a cost and achievement of desires is necessary but it must not hurt any human being as well as any other creature.

Freedom , I am very jealous of it because I know I cannot do anything I like , I cannot say I love you to the man I love because women aren't suppose to pursue men and such kind of sensibility reigns very supreme in our Manipuri society as well as sensibility because we are deeply rooted in our traditions and heritage . I looked in front of the mirror for a long time , oh god ! who invented this magic mirror , it's such a nice feeling to look into it and see my own reflection .

I saw my shoulder length hair slightly parted in the middle and kept it open. Today I am going to meet him and I slipped on my small white pencil shoes and as for the dresses there is no choice because we have a strict uniform imposed by this so called revolutionaries like the MKL because they feel that if we avoid relying on other people's culture that is wearing of short skirts , we will one day become free from them but they are silly people because what we study and learn and speak is all borrowed from different cultures and their influence is inescapable , we cannot be free from other people's influences, they cannot wash their minds although physically they can ; we must wear a traditional hand or machine woven fabric called phanek , it is a long fabric which extends from the waist to the ankle and one edge of this cloth is wrapped on the right side and the other edge covers the left side and is tucked inside it so as not to slip out . sometimes phanek have borders and the design of the border looks like a taj mahal. It is like a wrapper but the difference lies in the fact that in a phanek we usually stitched up the two edges from below the feet up to the knee portion so that when the wind blows the cloth doesn't sway .

I try to accentuate my eyelids and lips and I saw the light inside my eye and I became so narcissistic . Women are silly creatures who always want to look beautiful but they fail to understand the importance of other important aspects in their life , be it their career , skills , knowledge etc. , but times are fast changing and even! in th is tiny state Manipur , women are becoming fully conscious of their roles and choices in life , they now feel and know that beauty culture as well as brains are a must but our brains are not fully open because traditions and social taboo suffuse some part of our brains and thus we aren't fully conscious even of ourselves because some thing or the other is repressed somewhere inside our psyche .

To be continued...


* Uttamkumari Yumkham wrote this Story for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at uttamkumariyumkham(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on June 10, 2012 .



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