Sorarengi Machanupi And Kangla Diary
Issues Of Insurgency Reflected In The Novels Of BM Maisnamba
- Part 1 -

Dr. Sarangthem Sobharani Devi *

BM Maisnamba is one of the most celebrated writers in contemporary Manipuri literature. He is known for his fresh and original style of writing with novel themes which have stretched into various historical, social and cultural aspects.

So long, he has fifteen novels to his credit , they are :
'Atithi Amagi Ahing' (1978),
'Sorarengi Machanupi' (1980),
'Ahinggi Nupi' (1989),
'Kangla Diary' (1999),
'Imphal Turel Mapalgi Rajkumari' (1995),
'Imashi Nurabi' (2004),
his trilogy, which has generally been considered the magnum opus
'Ningthemnubi: Pongi Uchek' (2006),
'Ningthemnubi: Ahinggi Laibar' (2006), and
'Ningthemnubi: Konung Mihaat' (2006),
the five series of novels namely, 'Shridham Nabadwip Ogbi' (2008),
'Shrimati Kumarika' (2008),
'Shrimati Kumari Devadasi', (2009),
'Basantagi Kokil Amom' (2012)
and the two novels which are the continuation of 'Imashi Nurabi' called 'Nurabi Sayon' (2013), and
'Chittagong Reporter'.

Out of these fifteen novels "Imashi Nurabi" and "Ningthemnubi" Trilogy are the most celebrated works which have occupied distinguished places in Manipuri literature.

For "Imashi Nurabi" Maisnamba was conferred the 'Manipur State Kala Akademy Award' in 2006 and 'Sahitya Akademi Award' in 2007 by the Manipur State Kala Akademy, Imphal and Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi respectively. Moreover, he is the first writer to receive the 'Manipur State Award for Literature' in 2008 for Imashi Nurabi from the Government of Manipur. Apart from these he has been honoured for these two novels by various literary and cultural organizations with different awards.

BM Maisnamba is a writer who believes in the purity and the power of literature. With a commitment to ameliorate the flaws and the loopholes of the society through the power of literature he has actively been engaged over the past few decades in creative writing. The majority of his novels are structured into the frame of traditional writing. Having not merely a quality of uniqueness in storytelling art but his skill in the usage of new words coined by him is also highly commendable.

Emphasizing on such things helps to attract the readers' concentration on his art. The important issues which are in attempt to highlight in his novels which include discrimination of men in the name of religion, problems encountered by the women in the patriarchal society, declines of women's moral behaviours, violence, corruptions, and moreover the insurgency in the state may be mentioned. Selecting two novels of the writer, 'Sorarengi Machnupi' and 'Kangla Diary', in this paper, an attempt is made to discuss the issues of insurgency in Manipur as reflected in these novels.

We are aware that Manipuri literature has been playing a significant role in identifying social problems and in bringing social changes. Literature is said to have been the artistic record of life. Good literature is not merely a storehouse of knowledge but it is also a tool for social, political and cultural changes. For instance, in the wake of revitalization movement of 'Sanamahi Laining', the indigenous religion of the Meiteis, the role played by the literary works of Meitei Prophet Naoriya Phullo is worth mentioning.

Moreover, the roles taken by the writings of Hijam Irawat in mobilizing the people for a new political horizon and the impact of the prolific writers of renaissance's period-Chaoba, Kamal, and Anganghal's works on Manipuri culture, tradition and society are well known to us.

BM Maisnamba who has come into prominence from the later part of the Twentieth Century in Manipuri literature is a romantic Manipuri novelist. The majority of his works, excluding Kangla Diary, may be considered as stories of action. In the selected two novels the writer has presented a vivid account of illegal activities of politicians and officers, deeply rooted tradition of corruption and atrocious acts of the armies on the innocent people. In consequence of which the emergence of insurgent movement initiated by the frustrated youths who have the enthusiasm to save their society are highlighted in these novels.

Pointing his finger on such issues Maisnamba demonstrates the voices of the youths in his writing. Using flash back technique the narrative of Sorarengi Machnupi has been presented. Here, he discusses the issues of insurgency and the problems encountered by those who have involved in it are underscored through the story of a frustrated man called Birmani and his lover Sushini. Through the story of Birmani Maisanamba draws a picture of the tensions of the common people strata and the situation faced by the youths after Manipur got annexed to Indian Union which led to the formation of nationalist movement in the state.

Underscoring the historic event of 'Hunger Marchers Rally' which was taken place during 1965 Maisnamba attempts to justify the situation of instability, unlawful activities of the leaders towards earning wealth by forfeiting the right of the common people, anti social attitude, and so on. Using the situation of the society as backdrop the character of Birmani has been structured as a leader of revolutionary movement. The novelist uses the event of the Hunger Marcher Rally as a turning point of Birmani's life to begin with a journey for self determination.

Being a representative of College students Birmani participated as an esteem member of the Hunger Marcher Rally. During the agitation he seriously got injured and hospitalized for many days. Consequently, this incident evoked him to unfold his inner voice for a revolution which had been kept in his mind for a long time. He established a revolutionary group called 'Rimian Lalloi' with his friend Rono. Although "Rimian Lalloi" was an insurgent group but in no way near to violence. In support of the facts Maisnamba embodied an enthusiastic voice for streamlining the society towards restoring a harmonious and peaceful atmosphere.

Here, by interspersing the idea of what roles to be played by the youths in such a situation is clearly expressed in a dialogue of Birmani.

Let's consider the following excerpt which is my free translation from the Manipuri text:
Shall we remain tolerant to the grieve situation of the state? We too have to do something about it if we the youths don't take these responsibilities ... then who will...
[Sorarengi Machanupi, 1980 :38]

Having a small Government job Birmani stood as a common man into the people's perception. However, in reality, as a revolutionary leader, Birmani had seriously been engaged in making different strategies against the Government. Meanwhile, in a case of arresting a Government officer on the charges of corruption he had to encounter various disturbances since he was involved in it. Consequently, he left his job and started working as an editor. The forceful and influential words from his pen had become instrumental in strengthening different movements. It was impossible for him to hide his hidden identity for long. Soon after, recognizing him as a leader of insurgence group he was arrested by the Police and had to test the life of imprisonment.

After he got back from the jail, so as to escape from the Police he had to keep himself hiding in a village located very far from the city called Nongpok Khulen. In such a situation the novelist made a turning point on the life of Birmani by introducing a female character called Sushini. After having met with Sushini Birmani started avoiding from the works of insurgency. Subsequently, they got united and started a new journey for a new life.

The aspect of Birmani's life is a ubiquitous phenomenon to those who have involved in the revolutionary movement. By the unsatisfactory outcomes, repentance, insecure life and moreover having incompatible thought among the leaders they were compelled to leave the path of insurgency and hankering about to get back to a common people's life. Such realities faced by many individual in the progress of insurgency movement are distinctly drawn in the novel through the character of Mr Birmani.

Escaping from the underground's life with a new hope Birmani started approaching towards a new beginning. His life was complete with two children. With the aim to achieve an economically independent life he entrusted in the green revolution by dedicating in the agricultural works. However, his peaceful life was short; he got no mercy from the security forces during the progress of arresting people who were once involved in the insurgent movement. When he came back home after the completion of his imprisonment he found no clue of his wife and beloved children.

With such an approach the novelist tries to highlight the situation of instability, insecure life and different problems which have not only been encountered by the activists of insurgency but by their family also. The issues of insurgency which BM Maisnamba started concentrating on from Sorarengi Machanupi have come into discusses more deliberately in his Kangla Diary. The Kangla Diary which is said to have been based on true story and events is characteristically highly distinguished from his other works in terms of style and diction.

Since, the story of the novel is presented as a stream of thought it may be true to say that the Maisnamba's Kangla Diary is very close to the Pacha Meetei's Imphal Amashung Magi Ishing Nushitki Phibam (Imphal and its Climatic Condition) which has been considered as a stream of consciousness novel. Most of the Maisnamba's works are to be considered as stories of action but the structure of Kangla Diary is found to be adopted the technique used by Pacha in his Imphal Amashung Magi Ishing Nungshitki Phibam.

As Pacha presents all the events taken place during the past several years within few hours through the mind of Thanil, Maisnamba also conveys the story and event of Kangla Diary as an autobiographical memory of Melei with immediacy. Here, the novelist tries to put before the readers all the incidents taken place in Imphal city through the mind of the protagonist Melei who is identified himself as Kangla Paomee (tr., Kangla Reporter).

to be continued ....

* Dr. Sarangthem Sobharani Devi wrote this article which was published at Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on February 01, 2019.

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