Colloquium of the un-colloquial

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by Bobo KhuraijamWe shall begin by thanking tamo editor for allowing us to muse on a Monday morning. He well understands our incapacity for a Sunday sitting. It so happened that, quite unexpectedly, we were invited to a khana neinaba at the highest pedestal of learning, which you called – a university. Someone must have printed our names on the invitation card by mistake. And it somehow reached us. Colloquium, as it was named, giving us a hard time to remember the spelling. Forget the pronunciation part. The three-day discussion took us to a grueling ride of cerebral ingenuity. To tell you the truth, it was a bumpy ride. Almost like a ride on the national highway thirty nine. Upward and downward turn of the academic terrain would nudge us from all sides. Scholarly potholes would not let us catch a nap. All in all it was a demanding exercise. We realized how naked we are in the epistemic paradigm. It took sometime to put our clothes on. What else could we have done other than to adjourn the musing for a day!
A WELCOME CHANGE: we see a change – a change in the format. Many academic dialogues, particularly here in our Leibak, tends to start with a session called inaugural session. You have to wait for the ‘chief guest’, most often a VIP with armed escorts, to arrive. Then also, you have to wait for the ‘guest of honor’, the ‘special guest’ and so on. They would lit up the Olympic torch…Oops the inaugural lamp, which we feel, has got little meaning or does not serve any purpose for a dialogue. At best, the lamp would come to use in case of a power failure. It could be a symbol of hope flickering faintly amidst the darkness of our times, and nothing more than that. The proverbial half-sari clad nubile would come on the dais. One with a tray full of badges and another one would fasten one by one onto the torso of the guests. Each of the guests on the dais would speak one by one. They would speak on length referring to the theme of the discourse again and again. They would take an uneasy amount of time, longer than their age. The session gets over. And you realize it is two-three hours behind the lunch time. Good that the organizer of the colloquium had decided to cross out the VIPs, the lamp and the badges for a change. The perfunctory dais was not used at all during the sessions. As the organizers have put it, they wanted to bring the discussion down on earth.
HICCUPS: in order to facilitate an array of issues for an orderly and threadbare deliberation, it is important to split it into sub themes. Organizers have invited commentaries from the commentators. They are meant to probe deeper on what the speakers have dwelled upon. May be they were not explained of their role thoroughly. Many of them presented papers of their own, on the same theme. We are not saying that they derided the subject. But we feel as if we were shown with two movies on a single ticket, one at the first half and another in the second half. We believe that in future we shall be able to see commentators doing their rightful roles. We are confident of the adaptability which most of us possess. Besides commentators, we have participants who would always keep us in awe. Some of them have the uncanny talent of throwing up queries or observation, which are hardly related with the theme. Some would be happy enough to ask questions for the sake of question. We appreciate their enthusiasm. But should we also remind them that cheerleaders do take rest as well. If they never get tire, medication could be the immediate answer.
GROUND REALITY: the main organizer of the conference happened to be from the city of Delhi, including some of the speakers. It has become ritualistic to color anybody of not knowing the ‘ground reality’, if the speaker happens to be based outside the state. To put it straight: Reality happens in the ground. The fact that they have stayed outside the state for a long time and based somewhere is also a reality. The fact that they take keen interest on issues which are inherently part of the state is also a reality. The fact that they aspire for a common destiny is also a reality. We strongly feel there is a need to ground these ‘realities’ along with the realities as perceived by the dissenting groups. If there is not a common meeting point, we are afraid, we are sailing nowhere. It is far better asking extraneous question in the session instead of harnessing a conspiracy of conspicuous absence. Here are some proposals for our Akhang Ahei(s) Diaspora. Next time, could you please come by road, via the NH.39? The evening dinner at Jhaklabanda could stir up your academic tidiness. The following morning stoppage at the Tadubi or Khoijuman, brushing the teeth or washing the ‘thing’ with the stream water could refresh your academic journey. When you reach Imphal, please take time to listen to the radio programs of the AIR Imphal. Or watch a Manipuri video film. At best you can take out time to watch a Shumaang Leela. These would add another good list to your frame of reference. Take a walk at the ema keithel, have a komkwa. For those who are not used to it, any verities of the kaboks would serve well. The best thing of all would be to stay during the time of any protest marches on the street, or during the election time. This could add light in your quest for the answers to the question, which you have gathered in the cosmopolitan library or your reading room. Please do not mind. We have come up with these kinds of weird proposals so that you can have a dose of reality, which could temper feral accusations based on ‘ground reality’. Your reading of the local paper from the website everyday would serve a little. We congratulate a lady speaker who came up with the issue of translating the discourse into a practical reality. She was deeply concern of the missing link between the people on the street and the people on the microphone, indoor – dissecting – re dissecting, thinking – re thinking. One possible solution is: all our English speaking Akhang Ahei should start writing in vernaculars, nothing to be ashamed about it. People like Tagore and Amartya Sen writes brilliantly in their mother tongue. We know, you are comfortable in English (same with this column), but at times we have to be uncomfortable if situation demands. And don’t tell us that you do not know how to write in Manipuri. Many of you have done your earlier schooling in a Manipuri medium. That would be hypocrisy of a crude kind. Unless you try to explain the issues in a comprehensible manner, we believe it will lead to theoretical dogmatism, to academic anarchism; some of the very important issue like the ‘Right to Self Determination’ would remain a scholarly myth ballooning nowhere. We understand the profundity of theoretical moorings when we try to universalize a particular or vice-versa. We know you are an Akhangba, time to show that you are also an Aheiba.
FOOTNOTE: the authorities claimed to have tightened up their security belt to check untoward incident during the Yaoshang; whereas a young boy got killed from the bullet fired by a son of an Angam-Athou, that too in broad daylight. Leipung Ningthou calls it, “chimbaal thong gi santri, asibadani maangjaba”.

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