By Bobo Khuraijam
Thanks to a dear friend who read out the poem ‘Sunya Da Prithibi’ on a lazy afternoon. We could not hold back the loud burst of laughter after the last line. The poem established itself as an entry point for us to swim with the literary waves of Pabung Laishram Samarendra. Sometimes we are lifted high above beyond the horizon; sometimes we are pulled down into the bottom of the world. At times we are drawn into the whirlpool of his imagination.But the certainty that we would never be sweep away from our roots would comfort us. For those of us who had walked like a zombie, away from the wealth of Manipuri literature; who had orbited in anostentatious world of make-beliefs, Pabung’s words has been a harbinger for a homecoming, besides other luminaries in various fields of this land called Manipur.
ON THE WORLD POETRY DAY: a dozen people recounted twenty nine poems written by pabung Samarendra. Poems picked up from different anthologies such as: ‘Wa Amata Haige Tellanga’ (1962), ‘Mamaang Leikai Thambal Saatle’ (1974), ‘Khul Amagi Wari’ (1985), and ‘Wakching Gi Kavita’ (1999), etc. Each of the poems gripped us, lifted us to the sublime height of poetic exuberance. Those who read out the poems are faces widely known either in art or literature. We, however, would mention the names of three young faces. Tsh. Anupama and Mangang Chanu Yaiphabi of T.G Higher Secondary School, a school pabung Samarendra had served as a teacher for a good time. The show-stopper of the evening, Master S. Poireiton was the youngest, studying in standard two. His rendition of ‘Indurani Gi Barton’ was simply splendid, making loud gestures with his little hands. He reassured to us that not all our children have been bludgeoned by ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’ or ‘Jack and Jill’. Respectfully, we are not really against learning of other languages; but we plea for a composite learning, wherein the mother tongue is not reduced to an appendage. Pabung’s work has also lamentation of the precarious state of affair as far as children’s education is concern: “adubu panglaba angaang nadi athaapada ngangba nong gi marondi louba ngamde. Asengba numit ki mangaantabu paamjaba angaang na amamba leichin da nungaiba ngamde”, loosely, which is “yet an innocent child would not understand the distant rumble of the thundercloud. Children who rejoice the radiance of the sun would not be happy with the shadowy haze.”(Sárgada Awaba Amasung Nungaiba (1998). Indeed, the World Poetry Day was a befitting day to observe ‘Festival of Laishram Samarendra’ and honour him with an award. Congratulation to the team of Sahitya Thoupang Lup and its co-organisers.
TRANSLATION OF HIS WORK: ‘Tale of a Land’ (Khul Amagi Wari), was also released on the same day. The translator in his introduction to the book have dwelt on length the ‘tightrope walk’ one had to take while translating Pabung’s work. The manifest nature of translation; of Derrida, of ‘Signifier’ and ‘Signified’, of ‘Deconstruction’, of ‘connotation of idiomatic expression’, of ‘nuances of the implied phrases’ or ‘aphorism having axiomatic and proverbial meaning’, that he ‘never thought of translating the poems of Samarendra’ etc. He also spoke on length on the same during the festival. Very true, we wholeheartedly agree with him. With due respect to his learning, his accumulated wisdom, his priceless experience as an Oja, we would, however, be honest to submit that something seems to missing in his translation. May be because of Oja’s long mooring, in his exercise of teaching English Literature, that one could have become overcautious of the ‘rules’ and ‘forms’. This is not to diminish Oja’s unflinching effort to open more doors and windows into Pabung’s work. Please keep doing it.
FINALLY PABUNG SPOKE: with elegance. “Electricity department broke my leg”, said eighty eight years young Pabung with sparkling laughter. “I fall in love with Sanskrit following the Germans”, “Japanese loves Hawaijar and Ooty, but hates walking on the muddy streets of Imphal”. “Father thought I was studious, confining myself in the house. But it was my furtive indulgence in sketching which had confined me”. The jam-packed J.N. Dance hall was all in hilarity with every word that Pabung spoke. Such is the charm and wit of him. “Staying confined at home is maha paap, please travel far and wide, wherever possible”, “please try to learn as much language as possible, you will appreciate the diversity”. Pabung underscored the profoundness of a multicultural world, the beauty of multilingualism and his experience of going nook and corner of Manipur and other places. His love for cinema and music, out and out, it was an evening we would treasure. We at the Leipung are not burdened with the philistine rush to deduce the work of pabung, or work of art, for that matter, into specifics and fall into the pitfall of a reductionist fallacy. Whether they called it ‘Stream of Conciousness/or river of unconsciousness’, ‘post-modernist/pre-Oldist, whatever may be the school of thought/theory; whether they give award/reward/title, Pabung will remain Laishram Samarendra, the phenomenal Genius. May your wish to write hundreds of ‘Khul Amagi Wari’ be fulfilled! Till then, we would still love to spin and spin with ‘The Infinite Globe’ (Sunya da Prithibi), Mamang Leikai Thambal Saatle, 1974.
FOOTNOTE: we had requested in advanced to the organisers to take care of the belligerent ring of mobile phone during the festival. But no attempt was made to control it. The intelligent crowd of Imphal is all happy to receive phone calls inside the hall. Leipung Ningthou calls it, “ringtone na lamket lamhaiba”.