Holiday spirits

A Manipur Diary
Dec 26 2009 - Jan 10 2010

New Delhi, Jan 20 2010: Spending more than two years is a long time to be away from home. Yet sometimes, the circumstances compel you to take decisions willy-nilly in life. My life is no exception; I had travelled far from those days, and has been making my living in a distant land – far away from those surroundings where I had spent most of my life. It is often irksome by the lack of job prospects in our hometown. And another moment, there is a feeling I'd get rust in the slow-pace living if I spend my life there throughout. The solution could be staying over the two places – where there is my means of support and where truly my heart is. How do I strike the balance here depends on how I'm climbing on my career ladder. For better I earn, the more affordable it could be for me to go places, literally. Eventually, staying faraway is not a pleasure, but rather my obligation.

So I was visibly pleased; I was excited that I was going home. The last time I went back was in summer 2007, that was when I was still a student. How time flies I don't know. I start earning and I'm now financially independent. But it took me six months in advance to plan for the intoxicating vacation. But now, I'd say it was worth the months and seasons that I waited just for the occasion. From a couple of months prior to the holiday, I only dreamt about home, my folks out there and things I'd be doing when I reach there.

The D-day came after I celebrated Christmas at one of my cousins' place. On 26 Dec 2009, I left Delhi and I was happy. My morning flight was delayed by around two hours but I didn't mind... sooner or later, I was to be home. Just as the plane took off, I saw the bright, orange light of those twilight hours, flooding the dark sky from the Himalayan walls. The illumination almost sets my heart ablaze. When the feverishness was about to ebb, I saw the green mountains. And I saw the Imphal valley... And I realised it's true – home is really where the heart is.

H o m e  d é c o r
During the vacation, I have the prerogative to think for my mother, brother, sister and other kins from a close distance. I'm so detached from my family, maybe owing to my stubbornness and individualistic character. I don't have regular contacts with them but I like putting the things they do in the pictures all along. Even after a long time, there was a natural closeness in spite of talking so less and the paucity of sharing amongst us. I have one more feather to my cap as I could help them financially, with only mutual understanding playing a part in our relationship. I felt the triumph but I hate to admit that there was an emotional deficiency.

Simply watching the kids playing cricket in our courtyard reminds me of my childhood days. In fact, this trip made me aware of and gave me new meanings to things that would have passed off as mundane, if not for the long time I had missed them.

At the end of the day, I'm satisfied with the way I have been gradually becoming of age. Now I can fund my brother for his higher studies, buy him a moped or booked a ticket for my sis, whenever she wants to go home. I was also happy I could buy gifts for all the kids back home. At times though, it deters me to think that I have lived twenty-six good years and done nothing effectual. John Keats was hardly 22 or 23 when he composed his eternal odes; and Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain had travelled half the world, entertaining humanity with their music at my age. And me... I had almost hit rock bottom in my addiction to substances and people used to ignore me as another tramp on the street. I got recovered and am trying to get the kick from the idea that it's also kind of great achievement I have reached here where I'm right now.

I d e n t i t y  c r i s i s
Suddenly I got down to the familiar surroundings where I could express myself uninhibited. But I was surprised when some of my friends could not recognise me. I'd say identities, in a region like ours, are under a period of rapid evolution in matters of rights, articulations and solidarity movements. But it was a different ball game when the folks could not identify me by sight. They saw in me a different person with my beard, moustaches and recently-changed plump body. It was funny. For the next few days, I seek for shelters to save myself from the rants against my beard and moustaches. Ultimately, I succeeded in convincing them that I'm a real.

Is it really necessary that we always obey the elders? I'm in doubt for majority of the people, who criticise my Osama-bin-Laden-type bearded face, were those who are well past their prime. Tell me to say no to drugs, I would accept; but I can't help if I look like a fakir. Pabungcha advised me to be careful, in case there is any Hindu-Muslim riot, while Teingam teased I could be mistaken for a UFO activist if he saw me on the road.

There's also a story here: I came back to Delhi after my first vacation on Aug 14, 2007 and since then I had shaved just once on Aug 20. On that fateful day, I resolved to have a goatee until I go home next time. These folks didn't know I had passed the test. Anyway, I don't have any reason why I am keeping my beard and moustaches now – I have simply stopped shaving them. Or you could say the heart has reasons that reason don't understand. Nevertheless, I've got an impulsive attitude and could cut them off any other day. Or maybe not.

M a t a m g i  M a n i p u r
Keeping beard and moustaches is no big deal. In the two weeks that I spent there, I saw the plodding way of lifestyle. Even if we want to go fast, it usually takes us, at least, one hour any day to draw out money from the ATM. Life begins so early around 6 in the morning and ends even earlier before dusk. There is a fear psychosis among the folks to travel in the dark or little farther into the godforsaken places. It hurts because there are prospects and plenty of hot spots, though which are unfortunately forbidden owing to the quandary in our land. We are caught in a time warp, where we can observe human progression yet are trapped in a cocoon.

Nobody wants cruising for a bruising. For a person like me, who simply prize roaming and roving, the present situation is a curse. Anyway, leave alone those fun, whose community would tolerate if their children are deprived of their right to education? Some unruly policemen had murdered a former militant and a pregnant woman last July in a fake encounter and people had been up in arms against the establishment. We call ourselves modern when schools and colleges are shut down for four months! The stand-off between the government and civil organisations came to an end a couple of weeks ago but the bruises will never heal. Ultimately, the simplicity of common life in our hometown is mired by the complexity of its politics. There are several more problems, which are occurring chronically out there. But what could we do other than to dream for a better future?

F u n  i n  t h e  s u n
All's not lost in our abode, though. I have especially planned for the holiday in the festive season. I hit the jackpot – the cheerful sun was just fine to let me wander around Imphal town without any hitch, and my wallet was thick. From day one, I went for short drives, to countless lunch and dinner parties, picnics and what not. I can speak well of the alfresco meal near the Singda Dam, where I had pork and chicken with friends. The centrepiece of that day was the original Phayeng spirits. I was done with only three pegs.

However, methinks I had an excessive amount of sunlight. I got suntan, so uncommon that people are asking me about the weather and things I did there. My complexion do get lighter in the Delhi air, but there is no way I could have fun in the sun here, like I had enjoyed in my hometown. Come rain or come shine, I had the vacation of my life. I cherish the memories; Hero and Som have a baby girl each – Veronica and Sylvia respectively, Sunand has Ayush, our Jimson... Naobi is getting married next month; plus the several hours that we spent along with Tomba, Black, Dimetone, Amujao and others at the school lampak in front of bonfires and giggling, watching the funny clips on cellphones. I'd say load-shedding did help us in bonding with friends. We hardly get power for four-five hours each day and it offers plenty of time to kill with friends.

One of the most memorable moments was also the time I spent with Che Sophia. I went to Manipur University where she is an instructor, Khoupum village and shopping at Khwairamband Bazar several times with her. She is a typical lady, who if she teach you how to cook, she would narrate it from the moment how you fill petrol to your bike till you go to market to fetch the vegetables and start boiling them. She could put flesh on the bones of the most dull stories on her friends, family and anything. Sometimes I yawn in secret, hearing her babbles. No hard feelings, eh!

T h e  f i n i s h i n g  l i n e
I grew up, watching the popular TV series 'The Wonder Years', in which Fred Savage played an American teenage in the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. I don't remember the episode, but the words from one of them always reminds me: 'Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose'. What we love, we never forget. I could discern the actuality as I recollect the things that I had done there in my hometown in such a short time. Two weeks seem a fleeting moment in my life yet it has already prompted me to plan for my next vacation.

Now I think about increment. Every job, every day, every chat with colleagues, it all added up to the final salary, which would affect how and when I go home and the rest of my life. All those little bits and pieces added up to something larger. I dream about going back home.

PS: I have not mentioned about the encounters at the headquarter and the fling with the Big Banana :p


  1. Hi,

    Just wanted to say i like your blog (the 'personal' posts but not those long winded articles!) and the fact that you seem to be a 'fighter' who has won his battles against his demons.

  2. hi gypsy... i appreciate you like my post... thanks a ton


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