Leader Writer: Paojel Chaoba
This is a popular joke. One day a cook was passing through a graveyard late at night. Word was it that a demon haunts the place and preys on lone individuals. The cook was somewhat apprehensive at the time of night and especially having to make his way through the haunted place. Then, Lo and behold, appeared the demon in all his frightful glory. The cook was aghast with apprehension. But, mustering all his strength, the cook pleaded with the demon to spare his life.
The demon wanted to toy with dinner first, “You may ask me a question, If I fail to answer. You may go free” he said confidently. The chef thought for some time and took out a Jharap ( a spatula with holes mainly used for preparing fried foods) from his bag. With trembling hands, he placed the jharap in front of his face and said. “Do you realize that I can see you through this jharap?” The demon replied in the affirmative. “Well ! Then tell me through which hole of this jharap I am looking at you ?”
The present state of affairs in Manipur can indeed be termed as being in a hellish condition. The law and order problem has infested itself in the northeast region for more than half a century and there seems to be no respite in the near future.
The outlook of the people have somewhat become pessimistic under the bulk of the problems which seem to crop up in myriad ways. But, as History is testament, and out of seemingly hopeless conditions which may happen in the state or in other parts around the globe, there obviously has to be some silver linings under each dark cloud. The will to hope for a better tomorrow must be there in each individual, the courage to act and strive for that elusive Utopia must be there.
AFSPA, 1958, a demonic act, which all wants to be rid of. One need not detail on the atrocities committed behind its veil and the populace has suffered enough.
Championing the fight against the draconian law, Irom Sharmila has been on a fast for more than a decade. But, before the Iron Lady came into perspective, what was the status of the public in repealing the said act. Public rallies, general strikes, sit in protest galore etc. Nowadays, the public seem to rest easy that the AFSPA issue is not something to be personally involved with. And it is entirely Sharmila’s worry and some ‘concerned’ civil organizations matter.
It is more or less felt that the AFSPA issue is seen by the public through only one hole of the jharap and not in a holistic manner, we see only Sharmila and not the demon. This perspective has to be changed.
As for her recent report in The Telegraph which highlighted her personal thoughts, civil organizations have banned the paper for carrying an ‘undue’ report. It may be known by those organizations what is best reported or what is not about the Iron Lady. But if one puts up the jharap to the face again, it can be observed that she is indeed a passionate person. Is it not due to her encompassing love, that for the land she has fasted an unbelievable span of time.
To shout that a report in a national newspaper will tarnish her image and the struggle is just looking through a singular hole of the jharap, one feels. Say for eg. that, a report is done on the Taj Mahal and the romance between Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. Say that the emperor still had a harem of thousands even after Mumtaz died. Will that report blemish the magnificence of the Taj and the romance behind the monument?
Let the national media or anyone say or write about Sharmila, but that similarly do not diminish her status. We the Manipuri public know who she is and what she has endured, nothing more, nothing less. She is a human being. Boycotting a paper is not the answer. Quoting from a discourse by Rajneesh or more popularly known as Osho, an Indian mystic with a global cult following “When two persons open up to each other just as they are, friendship grows. When two persons are ready to drop their masks, they have taken a tremendous step towards religiousness. So love, friendship, anything that helps you to drop the mask, is taking you towards religion. But the pseudo-religions have done just the opposite. They are against love. You can understand now, why they are against love, because love will destroy the personality, and the pseudo-religion depends on your personality”.
To rid ourselves of the demons, which haunt many aspects of the Manipuri society. We must acknowledge the fact that sometimes the odds are against us and using our God given intellect, we need to take out the jharap from our bags and learn to view the issue clearly and act accordingly so as to get out of the seemingly impossible circumstances for the better. Before doing that, we need to address our own personal demons first.