TODAY -

Aroba's first Dilli journey

S Waikhomba Mangang *

Central View of Delhi from Jama Masjid :: July 2010
Central View of Delhi from Jama Masjid in July 2010 :: pix - Adim Marangmei



"Wo, Ema!", cried Aroba when the lunch was served at the Brahmaputra Mail that he boarded from Guwahati. Aroba was heading to Delhi, like most of the Manipuris do, for his higher studies.

Hearing the unusual cry, the guy who was sleeping at the side-upper berth came down and gave a look at Aroba, "Meetei ro?"

"Hoi! Manae, ei Meetei neh", pat came the reply to find someone from the crowd who could understand his 'Wo, Ema!' cry. v Aroba continued, "Ei Thouban dei neh, Dilli da ming chanba chatcharuge toubane. Eigi ming na Aroba neh, adomgi mingna?"

"Oh, my name is James Keisam. I am from Imphal", was the reply in heavily accented voice that made Aroba to listen as if some sermons was going on.

"But you can call me JK. That is how I'm known among my peers in Delhi". Aroba was awestruck to find someone so comfortable with English. He wondered at the same time why JK was avoiding Meeteilon.

Mid Prologue:

Aroba grew up in the dusty lanes of interior Thoubal, where biological clocks rather than alarm clocks defined time. The setting in rural Manipur is laidback with ample time for anything worth its name. The feel is earthy, an air of nonchalance devoid of any hubris that dot the social milieu in other societies. Despite so much of violence and the politics of violence that rocked the hinterland, people are more concerned to discuss about the harvests of the season over a bottle of Atingba with some Sha-ataobas.

When the ladies in other parts were busy discussing about issues that meant feminism and stuffs, the Thoubal ladies were more busy to discuss about the number of Phaneks and Khudeis that each could produce so that they could supplement the economy of the family. Unlike other places, Thoubal kids believed that Nokla, Panatone, Zookay, Samson, Dike, Luma, etc were real brands. They would sport the cheap 'branded apparels' with panache and walk as if the whole town was a ramp! Aroba was one amongst them. He had a Nokla handset.

Ever since the local elected representative decided to give a makeover to the semi-town by 'black painting' the roads, Aroba started thinking that Thoubal is finally coming in a big way. Though it is a different story that those black painted roads got washed away in one of the monsoons that came to the region. The COHSEM result was a big factor why the Ahals of the Leirak decided to send Aroba to Delhi. At 71%, they thought Aroba was the brightest student in Manipur! So, they started the frantic calls to other students who are in Delhi.

"Bhai JK, dal sidi thi mahi manle-da", said Aroba wryly. He poured out the dal to mix with rice. There were chapattis that were as hard as rubber tyres, some pieces of fried potatoes that looked like goat's droppings. He cared less to check other items.

"Assshhh... Bhai, adu makti henmanle-da. All the passengers are having the same food. Please don't complain", JK amused.

James was an introvertly extrovert guy. He made comments only when he felt there was a need. In short, a very calculated guy. He was at home with English though he was not a stranger to Meeteilon. He meant sophistication. He echoed elegance, candidness and an aura of intelligence. He represented an antipode to a buffoonish Aroba.

"I am doing my graduation in History from St Stephen's. It's a bit tough to get a seat there. If you've got good marks in your plus 2 exams and if you can impress those boring teachers who grill you during the interview rounds as if you were born in some historical period, then you are a Stephenian!", quipped JK.

"I scored 94% in plus 2. How much you scored?", asked JK. v "Is there any other college that admits students with lower pc?", came the response from a petrified Aroba, sensing that he stands nowhere to JK, forget about being admitted to DU! Though he did let know James about his plus 2 percentage.

"Oh brother! Don't worry, there are many colleges in DU. You have a good chance to make it at the North Campus of DU. Yam khanlunu-da..."

Aroba was more silenced by JK's deliberations than his personality. Also the terms he was using for DU was foreign to him. He barely could understand any of those. So, he decided to put silent.

Mujhko pehchanlo main hoon don... main hoon don... main hoon don...
Mujhko pehchanlo main hoon don... main hoon don... main hoon don...
"Hello.. ?"
"Woo..ooo... Emagi Ningthem Arobaaa... Nang Chak Charabaro?", said a wailing voice.
"Huh? Ema? Sidi Kanagi Phone noh?"
"Woo..ooo.. Mamang leikaigi nanggi nene Loidang-gi neh.. Eigi Aroba-bu chak charabaro?"
"Hoi ema! Ei chare... Ema, eigi kaaduda nungdang-da eiga Nanao-ga tharoi khara chuppambane.. Langthokpikharo..."

"Oh... yai.. langthokpige.. ado Arobaa... Ei..." Tut. Tut. Tut. Tuttut. Tuttut. Tuttut. The network was gone. He searched for JK who was already engrossed in his magazine. Dibrugarh se Dilli jane wali Nimnagami train Sankhya 14055 Brahmaputra Mail platform no. 3 par rukhi hui hain.

"Bhai JK.. train khame.. mapandei karigumba khara leiruse..."
Yatriyon se nivedan hain ki station parishar main train sochalay ka istemal kripya na kare. Dhanyavaad.
"Oh... Kishanganj manli heh.. Ei makha kumlak ke. So, what you wanna buy?", said JK.
"Acha-apot khara leise. Traingi chakne-na puk thande", smiled Aroba.

The train chugged pass Barsoi JN, Malda Town, New Farakka JN, Barhawa JN, Sahibganj, Kahalgaon, Bhagalpur, Sultanganj. Aroba was noting down the stations' names. He could not control the enormous urge to nap for a while.

This was the first train journey of his life. He was excited to be in a machine that carried thousands of people of different colours and looks. Few hours later, he was awoken by the train staffs who were serving the tasteless dinner with the ever doubtful dal that looked more slimier than anything. JK cared less for the dinner.

"But you promised you will be at the station!", JK hushed. Aroba looked at his watch. It was late night.
"I don't know the reasons. Please come along. I'm dying to see your face"
"Yes. Yes... Yes... I brought the things you've asked for. Please be there at the station tomorrow."
"Thank you so much... Love you, dear...See you tomorrow"
The train reached Ghaziabad. JK started packing his stuffs. Aroba understood. He too started packing.
"Bhai JK.. Saobiganu. Mateng khara pamjei. Dilli da Vijaynagar se kaida leige?"
"Oh, Waroonoo! Even I stay there. Will go together. Okay?"
"Assshhh... Yam nungaireda!"

"Ado, Aroba.. go to toilet. Delhi is nearby. Vijay Nagar is a bit far from the station. You don't have urinals at the Metro trains."
"Asssshhh... Waroonoo-da. Eise journey toubada yen douna toubaneh. Yung-ka suk-han handabaneh!"
"Huh!?? Assshhh... yai.. yai.." smirked JK.
The train reached Delhi. JK's friend waved at them. Aroba quickly glanced at her. She was a beauty and smartly dressed.
"Oh, so nice to see you again! How was the journey dude?", she air-punched at JK.
"I'm all good. The journey was tiresome. Erm.. meet him. Aroba, newbie in Delhi"
Aroba took out his hand from the pocket and said, "Hi! My name is Aroba. I'm from Thouban and I'm new in Dilli"
"Duh?! Thouban-nnn..? Isn't that Thouballl? Ewww... by the way, my name is Likla Chanu but you can call me Liz Noo. And I'm from the USA".
Aroba was astonished to find a Meetei from America! He was more impressed with this candid and sassy lady though he couldn't get away with his inquisitiveness.

"Heima! Amerika-da Meetei khun leibaro? Meetei khun kaya taagae Amerika da?"
"Duh!! I'm not from America. Puhleez!! USA stands for Upper Sekmai Area, Motbungz youdri mamangz da! Nangse eikhoi Manipurz yam khangdez manle!"

Aroba could conclude the following things.
1. JK is super lucky to have a beauty like Liz Noo.
2. JK is smart.
3. Liz Noo is even more smarter.
4. Liz Noo speaks Meenglish (Meetei+English).
5. That he himself was a dumbo.

JK and Liz Noo were good enough to drop Aroba to his friend's place apart from the lessons they gave him to board the Metro, to use swipe card, to get on an escalator, that talking loud is rustic and lawai-type. Aroba's friend welcomed him. He had food there. He called up his Ema to say his whereabouts. By evening, Aroba went to the nearby shop on the other side of the alley to buy dhoop and dhuna as per his Ema's instructions back home. He didn't notice some guys were following him.

With almost no Hindi knowledge, he enquired, "Bhaiyaa.. dhoop.. dhuna.. leibara hain?"
"Haan ji.. aapko kya chahiye?", asked the shopkeeper, a pot-bellied Delhite.
"Bhaiyaa, dhoop.. dhuna.. leibara hain?"
"Kya apko agarbatti chahiye? Beta, mujhe samajh main nahin aa raha."

"Hahaha... in chinkiyon ko kuch nahin aata momo khane ke alawa! Oye chinky tujhe jo chahiye woh yahan nahin milti. China wapas chale jaana... hahahaha...", yelled one of the guys who were following Aroba.

"Hahahaha.. hahahaha... chinky pinky po po.. mo mo.... Hahahhaha", cried the other guys. They started doing monkey acts, monkey chatterings and some martial kicks. The shopkeeper was obese enough to lift himself up. He asked them to remain silent but they could care less.

Annoyed, amused and angered, Aroba shouted back at the top of his voice, "Mee yam usittare neh, huh?!" and thud! Off went his fist one the face of one of the guys there.

Taken aback, the other guys surrounded him and started hitting. One Aroba was not good enough to take on an entire gang of rowdies. The shopkeeper shouted for help. A Sardar who came towards the allay heard the commotions. He rushed to the rescued of Aroba.

"Oye! Ki hoya ve? Rukho!! Warna main sabko jail main bhar dunga".
Seeing the Sardar rushing towards them, the guys went helter-skelter. In no time they were off the scene.
"Puttar ki hoya? Tu Dilli main naye ho kya? Tujhe Hindi nahin aati?"
"Uncan... I am new in Dilli and I don't know to speak Hindi", saying this, Aroba got up from the ground and went towards his room. He was hurt. He felt bad and humiliated for reasons he knew nothing. His heart cried out.
Mujhko pehchanlo main hoon don... main hoon don... main hoon don...
Mujhko pehchanlo main hoon don... main hoon don... main hoon don...
"Hello? Ema?", a tear dropped.
"Woo Aroba.. numit tare thangmei chukhatlo. Dilli-da kerosene-ga phangba waramgani."
"Ema, ei kona phone touraklage".


* S Waikhomba Mangang wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on November 09, 2012.



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