A Loom of One`s Own


By Malangba Bangormayum

In October a `Great Soul` was born.

In September, a friend of mine and I were discussing about something which led to the etymology of the word `Tantra`. He explained, in quite some length, what that word means. What I got out of that explanation was that the root of the word has to do with instrumentality. The literal meaning of the word, it seems, is to do with the loom. Tantra, therefore, I thought, could be taken as instruments, means to an end. It could also mean `looms`™ of various kinds, which give us means to weave webs of significances around ourselves, others and the world.

In June some years ago, I got married. My wife is the sixth of seven sisters. Her elder sisters got, as parental gifts, in line with tradition, the gift of looms – looms on which they could weave clothes,perhaps a livelihood. Eachwas also gifted a cow. I came to know of the cow earlier than the fact of the gift of looms. So, before the marriage, I asked my would-be-wife, whether she is bringing a cow. I said that would be great. I had this vision of a cow ferried on a truck to my place. I thought that would be fun. My expression of interest in the cow was taken seriously by her parents. Arrangements were made, the cow was chosen. My parents did not take it that way. They thought I was being infantile. When the cow was about to be put on the truck, words were sent by my father requesting my would-be-in-laws that the cow would not be a good idea. His argument was that there simply was no place to put the animal, and that the cow be sent when proper arrangements, a cow-shed was made. The cow-shed is yet to be constructed.

My wife did not receive any loom either. I inquired why? I also had this vision of her weaving clothes. That too looked good. She had this story to tell why she was not gifted a loom as was the case with her sisters. There was a `crazy woman`™ in her locality, when she was a child. This `crazy woman`™went around the locality to places where there were infants and children. She looked for chancesto hold them and play with them. It goes without saying that she was not entertained.

She saw some kids playing on a bullock cart. The bigger ones ran away when she approached. A little girl remained for she could not get down. The `crazy woman`™ took her down with care, but something happened which made her topple over the little girl. The girl got a fracture on her left-arm. The girl grew up, and became my wife one day, in June.

Taking long bus rides to a medicine-man in Khongjom, the parents of the girl treated their daughter but it did not quite worked out. They took her to a doctor, who told them that the bone had set but in the wrong way. The only way was to break it again and reset it. They would not hear of it. They resolved that they would make sure that their daughter never labour with her hands. She was not allowed to lift the heavy bucket, that heavy bag of rice. They also made sure that she gets the best education that they could afford, so that she never works on the loom. If that was the case, it is no mystery why she did not get the loom. She already had the gift of a loom of a different kind from her parents.

I knew what `Sva` means. If it is to be conjoined with `Tantra`, then it gives an idea worth fighting for. It is now clear why that `Great Soul` used to physically labour on a loom of his own. There is atwo-way traffic between the physical to the abstract idea and the idea to the physical. Another dimension of greatness of that `Great Soul` struck me in some kind of an epiphany. He was indeed someone who felt, what he thought and thought what he felt. Knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or not, he expressed what he felt and what he thought. The loom that he used to spin seems to be a case in point. His struggle for freedom for his people somehow expressed itself in the innocuous looking loom that he spun religiously. The physical loom as a launch pad, a symbolism for the idea that he was struggling for, need not have been a conscious design on his part. But isn`™t it the beautiful part, the effortlessness of a consummate artiste?The idea gave form to the physical loom. And in between these was the literal meaning of words that stand for `self`™ and `loom`™ and which together comes to stand for Independence, Self-rule, Freedom, Dignity and the myriad terms having a familial relation. He spun his loom, to realize the gift of a loom for everyone. He spun on his loom, now I realize, to make possible that everyone gets a loom of one`™s own.


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