TODAY -

Zero Ibobi gi Helloi
- Part 1 -

Czadanda Saint *



"If the Government uses the instruments of power in its hands for the purpose of leading a people to its ruin, then rebellion is not only the right but the duty of every individual citizen."
- Adolf Hitler

"Is democracy a form of governance where the Government f**ks the people?" Bruised, roughed by some goons in the disguise of uniforms, that was all I could think of. It was raining. I was all drenched. I could barely see from one eye. I could feel a tingling, almost numbing sensation in my nose. I wiped it. Was rain supposed to be red? I could not feel the left side of my face, including my teeth or whatever that remained of it.

And there was a lingering salty taste in my mouth. But there I lay in the mud, as if without a care. I must have fallen there by myself or they must have thrown me there. I don't know. And I didn't try to get up either. I just pull myself enough to lean against a nearby wall and I just sat there. A few seconds ticked away. I took out my Blacks. Somehow, it was neither broken nor wet. And I lit one up. The first puff was salty. The second was hazy brown. The third - a flash of light. And I was gone.

Greetings! People of Manipur. My name is Zero Ibobi the Third and I am a time traveler. For obvious reasons of anonymity, I chose not to reveal the whereabouts of where I came from. But I do assure you, it is separated by both time and distance from your beloved Manipur. To make a long story short, let me just say that I have a pack of cigarettes which allows me to travel through time.

The only thing I have to do is lit up a cigarette from that pack and till that cigg is stubbed out or finished, I am free to roam throughout the dimensions of time. But of course, unless I lit up another or if I run out of ciggs while time travelling, I will remain (stuck) in that time period where the last cigg was put out. I started with a pack of 20 cigarettes. But now, I have a few odd ones left. Guess I have travelled a bit. Or to say so, I have smoked a bit.

During my boyhood days, there was a wise old fakir who used to frequent our Zero locality. And he would tell us, zee little boys, that the Zero clan are the descendants of the illustrious Zee_Tai race of lore. He would herd us, zee little boys, off into a playground and fill our bubble gum heads with tales of grandeur and magnificence – part myth, part fable, part legend – of our 'supposed' fore-fathers.

Young and naïve as we were, he caught our imagination. He was our Pied Piper. He was our very own Morpheus– the keeper as well as the merchant of our dreams. Most of our childhood days were spent in the hopeful anticipation of what new vistas for our minds would the grand old man offer in the evening. And much much years later, even after I came across my pack of Blacks, I still have very fond memories of the tales of the wise old fakir.

And one day, it just happened. It was as if it was already pre-ordained by the stars. The fire was lit again. It was as if I heard the Pied Piper again. I was like a man, possessed. But this time, with the fakir himself not around, I pore myself into the library; spent hours searching, researching about our 'supposed' fore-fathers- the Zee_Tai race. But unfortunately, I didn't find much.

The closest I had come to was the Meiteis of your beloved Manipur. But more than the Meiteis, the land of Manipur fascinated me. The culture, the tradition; a melting pot of myriad communities and lifestyles. And on the other hand, the violence, the violations, the blood and the gore. The beauteous landscape stained with blood and haunted by cries of lamentations and anger.

The beautiful people, with an aura of distrust and fear around them always. Manipur, circa late 20th Century A.D. and early 21st Century A.D., was a land of incongruity. The more I read about Manipur, the more I fell in love with it. And being the impulsive ass that I was, I made up my mind almost instantly. I took out a Black. Lit it up.

And with the third puff, I reached Manipur at the turn of the second millennium A.D. If only, I had some inkling at that time of what an experience this was going to be. Because, to this day, I still remember very vividly my first time at Manipur. It is almost like I could still smell the warmth of the afternoon sun of that cold wintry day. That day- the 2nd of November 2000. You Manipuris remember it for a different reason altogether. But for me, it was the day I met Helloi. A frail looking young lady who introduced herself as a prisoner of conscience.

Of course, I know about the Malom Massacre. I have read about it. And it is no co-incidence that I chose this particular date to travel back. But how much this day is going to be relevant in the whole history of Manipur; that I will not reveal. Because, it is not wise to break some age-old laws of time travel. And revealing the future of the people concerned to the people concerned is one of them.

But what I had not anticipated was meeting Helloi. My Helloi. Thy woman. The woman. And she came in yellow. And smiled that bright yellow smile. And like the fallen yellow leaves in the backyard of Timothy's paradise, she was all eyes for me. And I was all eyes for her. She understood exactly my words of silence. And she spoke the same words of silence. But only loud enough for my heart to hear. And this time, the fire was more than lit. There were fireworks.

She was to become my friend, philosopher and guide. She was to never leave my side and to accompany me forever. Did she love me? Maybe. Who was she? I have no idea. Was she real? Or was she just a 'myth I need to believe in'? Her laughter was scintillating in the silence. It was like watching the golden rays of the yellow sun falling upon the dew drops on the blades of the yellow grass.

Her gaze never wavered. Even to a time traveler, time stood still for once. But where were we? We had just witnessed the Malom Massacre. Somebody's mother, somebody's son, somebody's brother, somebody's father just died. Just because they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Our love story could wait, I thought. It was time to witness the birth of a revolution.

To be continued....


* Czadanda Saint contributes regularly to e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at saddanskhaibam(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on November 16, 2013.


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