By Bobo Khuraijam
Churanthaba was a dreaded name before the television arrived. When family elders felt the need of restraining their children from any kind of over indulgence, they would use this name. Stop crying or Churanthaba will come, they would say. Tapta was another dreaded name. Yet, Churanthaba seemed to be the one that occupied our imagination. We imagined him to be someone who roams around with a large sack to put kids inside. Those kids who have a nagging habit of crying are sure to be picked by him, as we were told. The name has little significance to the kids today. Their minds are occupied with the characters of animated series that comes in plenty over the satellite television. On top of that they are busy with their school and private tuitions. Elders also join them to watch television, with no time to spare for storytelling. Believe it or not, a few months back, a name had become the talk of the leikai. The name: Nanao (it’s purely coincidental with anyone with the same name). A boy in his late teens, he should be. He comes from a broken family. Mother and father got separated. Both of them live with different partners. Nanao spent his early childhood at his maternal grandfather’s place. His grandparents and other members of the family failed to spend good time with him. He was deprived of education. He hardly mixes around with other children. When he reached his early teen he was not to be seen in the leikai. Sometimes he would show up out of the blue. When asked, he would answer that he had stayed at his relative’s place. His disappearance from the leikai had become somewhat regular then. The popularity of his name got strengthen with his habit of stealing. He would take away anything that could fetch him money. In fact, he became a master of his trade. He could steal an electric generator even while the engine is steel on. The owner would give a chase. He would vanish somehow leaving the owner panting, and of course anger splashed on the face. He would steal a television while it is on. The owner had gone to the washroom. He would steal any item. It’s of no use mentioning them. He would get caught once in a while. Every time he is caught, the leikai would have a meeting. All meetings would take the same resolution; that he would be let off, if he promises to not to repeat his act. His maternal home would also bag for leniency. Nursing the bruises and the wounds here and there on his body, he would spend some time in the police custody. The leikai would get a message of alert that someone has seen Nanao in the keithel. His name would be use by the elders to stop their baby crying. Even grownups, particularly girls would get petrified when dusk falls.
A SECOND LOOK: to the ‘Nanao phenomenon’ would always leave us in an uncomfortable state. We remember it was the day when almost every male of the leikai gave a chase to Nanao when he tried to steal a TV set one night. He could not be traced whereas the TV set was found hidden, covered by grass, near a khongban. What a chase it was! The crowd component was such that if we try picking out each individual who were chasing Nanao, well, each one have a tinge of Nanao in themselves; Government servant who bought his job from Angam Athou, MLA’s worker who circulated money during election, contractor who built palatial house overnight, club secretary who ferried boulders left along the road for black topping to his courtyard and so on. Pardon us, today, we at the leipung got reminded of churanthanba and Nanao all at once because of the news gaining prominence in the headline. A Nanao was caught trying to steal from the markets at Singjamei. It has been reported that the young man had confessed about the involvement of police personnel in his act. We would protest. That is not news at all. If you really want to call it news, then it is nothing but chajik pao! How many times we would be feed with news that there is involvement of police personnel in an act of crime, in this part of the world. Please, we bag. Please don’t try to point fingers at to anyone without any proof. Remember that one MLA got cornered in the floor of the Assembly by the CM when he tried to dig into the issue of fake encounter. The latter asked him whether he had seen the incident by the Honourable’s own eyes. And don’t you remember that the constabulary of the state is the most respected one in the country. They are the regular recipient of the President Medal every year. They get this medal not only because of the valor they have shown during their duty, but also because of the integrity and the professional ethics they have and maintained. Another news of the possible involvement of the CDOS in the extortion fiasco at two different schools in the town is also utter rubbish. It was reported that students tried to get hold of a patriot who turned up with a love letter. He had made telephone calls hiding inside the washroom. We are told that the conversation was possibly made with the CDOS over the phone, seeking to send some vehicles. In no time the Samaritans arrived and displayed their sincerity by beating up unarmed students that too inside the campus. We would request everyone to not to disturb these kind of personnel while they are on duty. With supreme sense of sacrificial spirit and uprightness they are performing their duty. Their top ranking officers are accused of being the most corrupted one in the state. For example … we have no examples, sorry. Your allegation that their lifestyles and the miniature Taj mahal they built is way beyond their known source of income. You are pathetically wrong. All Leipung members are ready to run in our birthday suit from kangla to keithelmanbi if the allegation comes out to be true. If at all it becomes true, it is purely co- incidental, like the name Nanao with any other Nanaos.
FOOTNOTE: the Imphal Municipality got dissolved just when crores of money came from a National Scheme. The money is now being managed by brave mans themselves with much fanfare. Leipung Ningthou calls it “lottery phaoraba kaanda ticket maangthok khiba”.