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Get Power Cut or Go Kaput


A translation of RK Bhubonsana’s Mei Mamgera Budhi Mamgera


Get power cut or go kaput
—It is the new government notice
It is mandatory to choose one.

Get power cut or go kaput?

The octogenarians talk over
Amongst themselves, the better choice:
‘If it is affirmed
We should get power cut
than to stuck in a rut.’
Slowly the suggestions stream in,
Slacking their stooping shoulder
The burden on their walking sticks:
‘Going kaput, for us, is open-and-shut
Today is as confusing as yesterday as tomorrow
So if it is really done, before we pop our clog,
Let the electricity be damned
Get some good sense back.’

And right away
does the government pass the verdict.

In view of the old folks’ judgment
There has been power cut
A regular load-shedding,
It is not a government's trick.

Get power cut or go kaput?

So the news spread,
Amongst the middle-aged folks
The discussion goes forward
As they campaign from home to home
Across the town.

And after deliberation they decide:

As far as electricity is concerned,
It had been a nonentity from our childhood days and earlier
And even now, we have always got power cut
But significantly
We had gone kaput as soon as we were born
With no recovery
And the condition is getting worse each day
Now life has reached its midway
Let it continue for it is hardly going to make a difference
So preferably we should have electricity ‘brightly’
Each night as we eat and sleep well
Let there be light!

How can you ignore their decision,
This group comprise the maximum electorates?

Thus adopted
The government
Several special scheme
To make the people go kaput:
Thus the mark tampering scam in Manipur’s top civil exams,
Thus sans the rice from Guwahati, it is illegally exported from Manipur,
Thus so cowardly and yellow-bellied, electricity is bought from other places,
Thus the law-enforcing agencies work and function against the law,
Thus the ministers and MLAs’ defection make the land so unstable.

So is it because of the government,
Or is it because of the people, the argument.

Get power cut or go kaput?

The youth moots
In nook and corner
In schools
In groups.

Which one is better?

The decision.

We are the youth
Manipur’s future
Manipur’s welfare
All is in our hands
So inevitably
We want to get power cut as well as go kaput.
And if possible, please break a tooth or two, too.
Why because,
Electricity is more or less the same
Before the Loktak Project started
And after it was completed
And it is as it has always been,
On the other hand
The Loktak Project destroys fields and fishes
It causes floods
It ruins man
It creates eviction, roots out habitation
It takes people out of work
It makes people go nuts.
Along with power cut
It is better to go kaput
Why because,
For knowledge, we have read and studied
But we lost time and money.
We get knowledge to get jobs
And we lost everything as we lose the knowledge
while searching the means to arrange money for the jobs.
Likewise we are educated after studying
And we are reasonable after education
And we know the faults and flaws when we are reasonable
And we want to express when we know the faults and flaws
And in our land when we express,
We get beaten up, we are brutalised.
Literally, backbreaking!
So it is better to go kaput.
In any case
In a land sans any sense and electricity
What use is of a beautiful face
There is no use,
The face of the youth
It is more or less, all the same
Instead, for our expressive facial elegance,
The request to get our front teeth broken too.

Alright!

The pillar of the society, they are called
So necessarily, we should follow what they say
So the government intentionally
Make the Loktak engine go defunct
Make the people go kaput
Make the regular load-shedding programme
Anything against the youth
Anything that makes people go wild
All of these have been taken up—
To break the teeth
To beat up the protesters and demonstrators
It said, thus it does
These days.

So the people live up to their wish
They got no power and they go kaput
Their teeth broken
In the land of mani—the jewels, Manipur.

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Translation Lines:
Mei Mamgera Budhi Mamgera, it is a colloquial title with no exact rendering in English. It connotes an interrogation if you want to get power cut (mei mamgera) or mental blackout (budhi mamgera). The most interesting word is ‘mamgera’, from ‘mamba’— in Manipuri, mei mamba is power cut and budhi mamba is literally mental blackout. But for some effect in relation to ‘getting power cut’, I have used the phrase ‘going kaput’ for mental blackout, ie., getting defunct, as in the mind and brain going out of work.

Load shedding is a common phenomena for the last couple of decades in Manipur, with the common people receiving hardly 4 hours of electricity in a day, though the state is highly developed with the average people having an IQ above 135. The state is infested with conflicts and violence.

Manipur literally means the land of mani, the jewels.
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Note:
This poem was originally published as Mei Mamgera Budhi Mamgera, in a book of the same title by RK Bhubonsana. The book with 55 poems and published in 1999, was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002.

Check the author’s website: http://www.rk-bhubonsana.in/
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