Manipuris, once upon a time!!

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By Dr. Vijita Ningombam

I love home and that is true for all of us. However satisfied we are with our lives outside home, in another city, however appeased we feel in another place, whatever prosperity or beatitude you earn from your jobs. What so ever felicity the new city brings for you.

We all think of home some time or the other. Some of us are in a denial phase. We think the new place (which is old now since you have already lived there for months together) is destined to us. We tell ourselves that we don`t really think of home, or at least we don`t have the time to think so much. We, sometimes love the different taste of the food we get in the new place or some inquisitive people like me try finding new restaurants and new cuisines that we haven`t come across yet and it`s interesting to know that we find it all in one city.

Thanks to globalisation! And then the day comes when we decide to go home. Maybe for some work or some function, someone`s wedding, some unfortunate demise or a disease or simply just for a holiday. We land in the airport or the bus stop, unfortunately we don`t have trains in Manipur, and then we feel the moment and memory comes back.

Each time we don`t have to really depend on our memory because even if we missed out on a visit home for few years, unlike any other growing city, my home town hasn`t changed much. The drive back to the house brings you to the memory lane, your childhood that you spent. The little things you found happiness from.

The familiarity brings you to terms with the concrete existence of love you feel for the place. Finally, you see your house. It doesn`t look so different except, may be some renovations here and there. You get down from the vehicle and you suddenly feel a peace that strikes from within. You enter your room and sit on that bed and that`s when you have that quiet moment and that voice from within speaking to you saying, “I missed this!” Next day you get up and start your day, you read the newspaper or maybe not.

You hear others reading some piece from the paper. K**L, K*P, women`s protest, JAC etc.etc. I`m sorry I think I missed out on a lot of names ( for those readers who are confused I mostly meant insurgents and organisations) and as the days move on, you suddenly have a curfew or a strike or “bandh”. And if you stay a little longer you sometimes hear this sound which would have easily passed as a cracker in your new city but here at home it`s a bomb!

As the days pass by, you realised you actually have restricted yourself to a lot of things. You haven`t received your newspapers in time except local ones of course. You have stopped your evening walks, the relaxing night life after work and realised your day ends at 6 pm and that`s a waste of 6 hours which in the new city, you would have utilized it well enough. And then you hear about other things like corruptions, deaths, life threats and other unreasonable actions people take against eachother , you start seeing the city again and you realised it`s not grown much and it will take years to grow with the mentality people have at the present.

Then you take this deep breath of actualisation that you had left and planned to settle in the new city for some reason. Because you wanted a life with peace and an environment where you can grow without a hassle or wrangle. Without people trying to judge your every step, without people trying to put you down.

Living that life of peace where you are just left alone to just be! Most Manipuris have created that reluctance to be a part of the state. In this age of globalisation and higher economic growth, we hardly talk about it. I wish the newspapers were filled with ideas and innovations that would lead to growth or medals and awards for growth. Instead, it`s better to read the newspaper from the back page, atleast the sports columns have some achievements to talk about.

When the whole world is looking out for a better lifestyle, here we are betwixt and between only because of lack of efforts to head the right way. And of course lack in awareness of something called “brain drain” which should be the main concern of the state looking at statistics of external migration of the youth.

History is important but glorifying it to the extent that it is harming the present is not justified. Some say they are fighting for the land, some say they are fighting for the culture, some say they are fighting for the script, some say they are fighting for the minority, some times religion. Why do we have the urge of searching for the problems and overhauling about it.

Why can`t we live thinking of the present and looking out to sustainable development to produce a better future, to promote a socially and environmentally sustainable state with the goal of providing a good life for its people. We keep talking about inclusive growth, why can`t we think of ideas and play that part in bridging that gap that we have towards it`s application? Instead we are on another road altogether.

How many people are you going to push away, how many people are you going to alienate from letting them feel at home. How many people are you going to lose!? What are you fighting for? How many people are you going to add to the list of Manipuri diaspora, most of who are busy in their lives and who have forgotten the life in Manipur. Youth of Manipur who have left, the people contributing in growth of different countries and regions of the world.

They have left home NOT because they stopped loving Manipur, not because they are cowards and are afraid to save their land but they have left because of the fight that is happening at home, because of the environment they come across at home, because they have given up from trying to play their part in changing people`s mentality and eventually they will all leave and get settled in different places. So, who are we actually fighting for?

Some day this fight will lose it`s relevance as the people you are fighting for will become citizens of other countries or residents of other state, but yes they were Manipuris , once upon a time!! Dear Manipur, Please wake up, before we, the young Manipuris leave you. Please wake up, because I`m scared I`ll give up on you. Please wake up, because I know I have a lot to give back to you.

Please wake up, before we all give up on you!! With love, A Manipuri who loves you. ( whether I stay as a resident Or a diaspora!) ( Dr Vijita Ningombam, a child actress in Khamba thoibi movie (1997), A Model for TV documentary about Manipur for DD-1 channel (2003), An anchor for a TV show NE hi-fi Manipuri music count down for NE-TV (2008), became a doctor and worked in the Psychiatry department of RIMS, Imphal (2012), now a civil service aspirant and is attempting on writing a book!)

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