By Bobo Khuraijam
“Together with our parents … invite you to share our joy as we take the vow of oneness on our Luhongba Ceremony”. Truly, this wedding invitation card made our day. With no dirt of exaggeration this was the finest card we ever got. Not because it was from our acquaintances. The words are fresh and the style is unique. We are impressed enough to overlook the sumptuousness of its physicality. Some thick-skin corporate Tilaikhombi might deduce and reduce it into payable ‘design work’. For them any kind of work, or say, any set of skill has to have a market value. In simple words, all things under the sun have only two names: buyable & Salable. They would say that some designer have designed the card so well. No! This is not about ‘designing’, we would contest. It demands a creative surge and also an innovative spurt to defy dry conventions. A cursory glance of invitation cards would explain a lot. The colour and the kind of paper might differ. Words are the same old one which gives us a feeling of impotency. Marriage card, public meeting invitation card, ritualistic invitation card of birth and death, all dry as water pipelines of Imphal. We are all copycat sleep walkers, fishing in an empty lake, where creative stream have long stopped to flow in.But these two individuals who are going to take ‘the vow of oneness on their Luhongba Ceremony’ deserve appreciation. While not only standing out from the crowd they have also added nutrients to our creative life flows without uprooting the core.
NORMATIVE CALL: You must do this. You must not do that. This way is the proper way. That kind of action is unacceptable. Unending rules and tiresome norms: that’s another name of Marriage. Meitie marriage has its own eccentricities, has shades of foibles and frolics. There is a popular gag of the bride following rules silently. Potloi, the bridal wear requires elaborate stitching and fixing to make it complete. One requires trained hands to deck it up. To make it dangle gracefully from the midriff is no child’s play. This bride has it to her patience and obedience. The Potloi Setpi in her haste had included in the stitches a good portionof torso, of the bride’s skin. Poor bride, she was in agony when they reach the groom’s house. When asked why she did not complain to her Potloi Setpi, her answer was: “I thought it was a rule”. Jokes apart, Daughters O’ Daughters you are the Guinea Pig of cultural laboratory. Often considered to be a liability of the family, and most often misconstrued as mirror of cultural symbols. They are to follow certain strictures of the moral world. No doubt, their male counterparts are also bounded by social conduct. Yet, they enjoy a wider degree of escapades. For daughters, the mother of the house takes special care to coax their daughters. This is more so when the nuptial ties knocksthe loudest at their doorsteps. Ebema, if you laugh like that in your in-law’s place, Ebema, if you talk like that, if you … There are limitless rules for daughters. Listen: We are not going to open another debate of women empowerment – women emancipation, feminist polemics, gender mainstreaming and the likes. We are simply a witness to the day to day histories of new age daughters.
DARING CALL: A to-be bride, keeping aside her separation anxiety, came home to deliver the invitation card for her wedding. Well educated, she works at a reputed institute of our times. Have been a loving daughter for almost four decades at her parents’ place; now distributing cards to become daughter in law (strangers in all cases). An over-ripe bride, if we go by strict local parlance. On her hand, she had a lorry full of cards to be distributed. However, she wanted to stay over for some more time at our Leipung courtyard. When enquired upon, she shared with us her raison d’être. Her concern to grow old with someone was just a tributary, it seemed. She was more concern with – (a) How to behave at in-law’s family? (b) What are the lessons that she has to learn now? (c) Is there anything new that she hasn’t seen in her four decades of existence as a daughter? Do we have answers to that? But at the Leipung, we should say, there are daughters of a new melody. Daughters who have been exposed to a different sunlight, who have drank water from the Himalayas, who have smelled air from a different ethereal compound. And above all, daughters who have extracted nectars from the beds of the modern educational enlightenment and most importantly, who, have learned and equipped themselves not to be a meek submissive being. We know, the heaven (if there is any) and the earth moved when they question: “why should we eat our husband’s remains before the bridal night?”, “Whyare we out casted when we have our charm (menstrual cycle in bio-medical lingo)?” , “why our phaneks are untouchables to the man?” We believed our daughters have every right to question everything. To the daughter who have aired her fear of failure of being an ideal daughter-in-law, to the daughter who is fired with the zeal to question the norms – we have just one answer – take it along with your stride as it comes, and make the world more beautiful without breaking it.
FOOTNOTE: Agricultural award, Manipur state has recently got. That too when the Chief Minister himself begs for more quotas of food grains from one of his boss from Delhi, to be able to meet Food Security Bill. Leipung Ningthou calls it, “cameraman da best actor award pishanba”.