By: A Bimol Akoijam
Amidst the sultry tropical weather, a group of protestors repeatedly shout, “Save Sharmila!!!!
One of the protestors passes on the leaflet that they have been distributing to people to a deranged man who happens to pass by. Shaken by what is written on the leaflet, the deranged man seeks to strike a conversation with the protestors. Initially, seeing the odd looks of the man, some of them laugh at him and teasingly calls out one guy, who happens to be one of the leaders of those protestors, to entertain the deranged man. He, along with a few, decides to take a break from the protracted protest, and have a conversation with the deranged man. As such, they need some rest as they have been shouting for a while and it will be some time before those who have gone in a police vehicle to summit a memorandum to the PM or his office, something that they have never failed to do so each time they organized such a protest during the last decade, return to the protest site.
As they sit down, one of them asks the deranged man, “So, what do you want to know”?
Deranged Man (Henceforth, DM): Why are you supporting Sharmila?
Leader of the protestors (Henceforth, LP): Because Iche Sharmila has been on a fast!
DM: Oh, you support her because she’s been fasting?
[box type=”quote” color=”green”] Yes, yes! Some of the protestors answer almost in unison! [/box]
The leader continues in all seriousness, “Yes, Iche Sharmila has been fasting for the last 11 years!”
DM: Oh I see! So you are supporting her because she is on a fast?
DM: Why don’t you ask her to eat; In fact, still better, since you seem to love her so much, why don’t you offer her food, instead of protesting like this?
LP: You mad!? She’s on fast for 11 years!!!!
DM: That’s what…you shouldn’t have allowed her to go hungry for so long?
The deranged man continues, scratching his head as he glances at the leaflet and looks at those protestors.
LP: She has been forced-fed all these years… She won’t eat!
DM: Too bad!
Taken by surprise, the leader retorts back; the deranged man continues again.
DM: You people love her so much and protesting all these while in this weather and she refuses to eat! I don’t understand. Doesn’t she love you? If she loves you, I think she will start eating food!
The deranged man continues.
Hearing his remark, the protestors look at each other and some of them become visibly perturbed by the remark. One of them says in Meteilon (a dominant language which consists of a group of Manipuri dialects spoken by people in the valley of Manipur as their mother-tongue…like the Mandarin amongst the Chinese), “Masi angaobashi…mathong maram khangdaba…kaothatlu…fujillaga fadouni…mee ushittaba…makok yaodaba” (this mad man has no sense, kick him, it’s better to beat him up…brainless fellow)!
The leader looks at them and says, “Ngaikho… tapthakho…angaobaga maanaraga kei kandoino” (Wait…what you will get if we do that with a mad man”)!
DM: You angry?
LP: Of course not
Being a seasoned leader, with a touch of diplomacy, he smiles as he answers. Then, he looks at his followers with another smile.
DM: So, does she love you people?
LP: Yes, she loves us, why would she fast if she does not love us, the people of Manipur!?
DM: That’s all the more reason for her to call off the fast so that you don’t protest like this in such weather!
One among the protestors menacingly walks towards the deranged man and says, “Shut up!”
The leader stops the guy and then looks at the deranged man and continues, [box type=”quote” size=”small” align=”right”]See, she won’t eat until the Armed Forces Special Power Act is repealed by the Govt. Of India[/box]
DM: Oh, then you should be fighting against that Act, rather than SUPPORTING HER BECAUSE SHE IS ON FAST!
The leader thinks for a while and answers, “That’s what we are doing”!
DM: But you said, you people are SUPPORTING SHARMILA BECAUSE SHE IS ON A FAST! Didn’t you say that?
The leader looks at the deranged man and his followers. Then he continues.
LP: Yeah…err…but it’s the same thing!
DM: No! How can it be?
LP: What do you mean?
DM: If she decides to call off the fast or something happens to her, what will you do?
The leader shots back, “Then, you will see a civil war if anything happens to her! Government of India will be solely responsible …God forbid, if something bad happens to her!
DM: And Armed Forces Special Powers Act?
[box color=”red”] The leader and protestors look at each others.[/box]