By Bobo Khuraijam
Pretentiously enough, Leipung purportedly went into a hiding. We wanted to fashion an identity which would stand out from the crowd. The hangmen on the highway tightening the noose around everyone’s neck helped us fathom an imagination. That it was a right time to strike a pose which would help us look different. Should we inform none of you that the identity of Leipung seemed to be in a crisis? It has been reported that there has been some fake ‘leipungs’ around the corner who nurture a philistine dream to encroach our space. How fake they are, we asked. They said it is deadlier and fakeir than an election promise or an air hostage’s smile. “kibana loirehe, Madhop!”, should we bellow? No. we do not want to add more noise to the already polluted soudscape of the town. Instead of that we should do something different, we thought. Like the tall placid gentleman with a long hair and bell bottom trousers, who shows up as soon as the interval light sunup inside the Imphal Talkies, with deep fried eatables, we thought we could sell eatables to the patrons who are queuing every fuel stations day or night. Those days of “A” certified movies in Imphal Talkies, we enjoyed the eatables from the gentleman Bheiya along with the music of Boney M during the intervals. The engaging smell of ammonia sprinkled by thousands on the wall near the cycle shed would not deter us from enjoying the taste. Could we bring back that entertainment level of service to our patrons in the fuel stations?
MISADVENTURE: Some of our members collected as much umbrellas they could. They tried renting it out to the patrons. Not a single soul hired the umbrellas. They said the umbrella was of no use as it is already winter. Though the blockade started a summer back, it has passed a monsoon: the show is on till this winter. Next, our members collected some quirky items … unused Luna moped, some even without engines or tyres, dried bamboo poles, wooden sticks or…every unimaginable thing in the world were collected. Those things were going to be used in lieu of vehicles to mark their ‘space’ of waiting the Petrol Godot; needless to say that our members made zero profit for hiring out those things. Yet, they got richer with MP3 songs and videos of mobile shots via the blue tooth. It was a perfect place for entertainment exchange. Male patrons giggled watching together the mobile videos, nearby female patrons gave curious glance, as if they knew something about the video. The muted sound of the video must have awakened too many senses. Next number: our members tried selling eatables. Again, nobody cared to buy. Each of the patron had taken a vow that not a morsel of food would be allowed to enter their mouth no matter how starved they were. They said that they would eat only when their fuel tanks got filled up. That was the spirit: A unique solidarity of empty stomach for an empty fuel tank. We reaffirmed how determined the driving patrons are. Aspiring scholars could give a try in finding out the driving force of our driving patrons even with empty stomach and empty tanks. What drives them in spite of emptiness? We assure they would not return empty handed if they find a plausible explanation behind the mystery.
LESSON AFTER: Next we pick up another lucky number; lucky number; lucky number; our members coughed up enough courage to make friends with our black friends. The best option was to get cosy with our leikai hero, Shri Oidabamayum Gandhi Singh, who now drives a white swanky car after doing all black things. The only black thing that he did not try doing was selling charcoal! Our members took several rounds of joint sessions with Gandhi, behind the Mapal Kangjeibung, not only because the place is high profile but it is a liberated zone secured by securities. It was not easy to act smart with him. After all he was already a smart fish. Why would members of the Leipung suddenly get interested in him? This very question was sitting on his tongue. He would not let it go by virtue of his blackmanship. Our members are after all Leipung members. They knew where the softest target was. There is a catwalker from the next Leikai who have won many beauty awards. Today’s space for musing would not be enough to describe her beauty. Allow us the service some other time. Well, coming back to the point, Gandhi falls for this beauty. He would shower her with the most expensive gift in the town. New years, Jeebanitas, Yaoshangs … come what occasion, he would never let go the chance without any gifts. The sad part is she would accept all the gifts but never give an answer to Gandhi’s proposal. Yes or No: only silence. And this is what makes Gandhi a dejected man in spite of his senthok (s). Anybody with his stature would have taken it lightly and start looking for some other queens. He has given all his heart to her. Among our members, one happened to be a distant cousin of the catwalker. Our member assured Gandhi that he would cupid around to make his dream come true. Of course, the brew from CSD canteen was the ice breaker. But then our members had his thamoi gi profile with them. The give and take mantra was followed. One may find us manipulative, scheming up to meet one’s interest. We don’t give a thi. It was a matter of retrieving Leipung’s endangered space. Gandhi showed us the way. The trick was to contact other black friends who have Thao Parmit from the Sarkar. They sell off the permit. That’s how fuels are sold at blood pressure prices. In the name of doing something different, in the name of saving our so called identity, we went out to sell fuel in black. We failed. It was too dark: darker than the meitaan. We got lost in the crowd of black marketers. We convinced ourselves that our uniqueness can never be dwindled. No matter how one may try. Unique like the solidarity between empty stomach and empty fuel tank, enjoyable like the gentleman Bheiya’s eatables, as engaging as the ammonia’s smell; we are back from hiding after two fortnights – unpretentiously.
FOOTNOTE: we heard that recently Taibi and his team were awarded the best improved state. How improved we felt after hearing the news? Leipung Ningthou calls it, “Shanti Das ta Puya ebagi manna pishanba”.