A Cocktail of Tragedy, Rules and Revolution

Zero Mile Syndrome: An Imphal Tragedy
Have you been to any place, where it is comparatively safer where you stay, but it’s a crime to drift beyond 20 kilometres from where you are?

Imphal East (Photo by Deepak Shijagurumayum)
In Manipur, travelling and committing crimes are strange bed-partners and that’s one of the unceasing tragedies we are facing remorsefully.

You are helpless and the laws are in the hands of several conflicting power players: the government, the anti-government, the army, the state police, the village police, the insurgents, the other insurgents, the thugs, the looters, all of them existing in the name of the land.

It’s a crime, no matter how clean you are, if you mess up with one of them or you are caught between them. This is the tragedy of Imphal―located exactly in the middle of the land of fake jewels*―where bombs and bullets dictate the way of living and amassing ill-gotten wealth is a status symbol. (* Manipur, literally, is the land of jewels. Eastern Dark sings the politicians have looted all the jewels for their wives.) 

A war zone best illustrates the land but this is something beyond a geographical muse. Howsoever you languish with rucksacks and maps to hit the road in such a place, you dread to set out because the time is never right. Even the clock has given up ticking, as the whole society lies stranded, being caught in a time warp, in a pseudo-primitive existence.

We are caught in multiple sociopolitical and economical conflicts, living in perpetual fear and apprehension. A misery it is that we are unable to connect ourselves to the contemporary currents which mark a global society.

The pristine beauty of the land in all its magnificence and artlessness, no doubt, writs large on the blood-smeared landscapes. This ability to appreciate gives us a hope that one day, we will come out of this coop of dilemmas and predicaments. We believe one day, peace and justice will reign.

Life would have been living in paradise if we were not in a chaos. A simple reason is that the land is a natural beauty, with the enchanting hills seamlessly blending with the valley; though this does not mean the land is ugly-proof. For clarification, the photo on the right looks like a paddy field, but it is actually the National Highway 53.

No wonder, despite the dreams and nightmares, the natives are suffering from a Zero Mile Syndrome. Zero Mile is a term used for the municipal areas in the capital town, Imphal. People would not dare expose their derrière, going out for trips and trekking; but would simply spend a lifetime, spoilt in half of the claustrophobic valley area. It is high time we get rid of this inertia.

Follow the Rules
Rules are meant to be broken. We would usually state it because it offers us a false notion of independence and satiates our ego.
Image from Piss Myself Laughing

The most forbidden things are the best when done. It is fun and gives an adrenaline rush to disobey and sometimes to obey things only out of the rule box. Proudly declaring that we trust our instincts, or retribution be damned, is making a style statement in our daily conversation. It sounds very cool, but the bet is on how much can we exceed the line.

To prove the point though, you should not be behaving like Uripok Laingam who is always behind the bars every Yaoshang (March). He is notorious for hurling stones at commandos’ Gypsies. He is not someone who would break all the rules to solve his existential dilemmas, but simply he hates the dogs and hence the crime of stone throwing.

Pity Laingam, all his efforts to prove his rule on breaking the rules have always been nullified in a purely mathematical sense and has merely been a key to the Imphal police lock-up. So, the bottom line is to seize every opportunity, leave no chance: Just follow the rules.

Despite our love for defiance, most of the time we are more willing to comply than defy, for reasons which are as varied as the number of rules we have everywhere. For example, on supposedly important documents, you cannot avoid the Ashoka emblem even if you think you are an International Man.

Conformity, on one hand, marks the life of a happy and contented lady/gentleman, and on the other, implies an unimaginative take on life. There is no doubt how on surrendering to the whims of rules, we are also giving ourselves into the monotonous patterns in which the obeyers put up. But we would not say, for the sake of some egoistical satisfaction, that the rules are cool now.

To break the rules is, for us, an impulsive pursuit. It is a standalone affair which we pursue out of nowhere, just once in a while, like a moody person feeling like taking a walk in the middle of a meditation session and thus taking the walk.

It is amazing in our everyday life on the other hand, how we flow with the wave and follow the rules to prove   not only we are docile but we also love them. Quite contrary to making a statement on breaching this and breaking that, we are all ears to the elders, the seniors, even the kids and the authority, the government and what not. Seemingly life is easier this way. One second. Don’t break the rules, destroy them. Surely, exception proves the rule.

Your Revolution Rhymes with Extortion
A letter to the sons of the soil
Image from the Lucy Parsons Project

Dear Brothers,

How is life in the jungles? I hope the the folks in Bangkok and Geneva are fine and are in touch with all of you.

In the last few decades, Manipur has transformed itself from a land of dejection to a land of hopelessness. We appreciate your kind contribution in this transformation. The people of the land are equally delighted to be a part of this exciting development.

Will you, at least, stop your intolerable extortion and mindless activity like killing the helpless people? Though you would dare not challenge the government officials, except for the regular demand letters you post them. And yes, you can challenge them: inasmuch as they can loot, you can also kill. Or are you working in cahoots with them? I don’t think so, because you are just a pauper like me.

Let me quote Theda Skocpol to make the people take me as a learned person (but to tell the truth I’m also just one of the deaf and dumb dimwits like them). Revolution in its barest essentials, she says, is structural transformation and class upheavals. I hope her statement reminds you of the purpose you came into existence. In those formative days, oh pity, the old folks would not have even heard of things like tenders and contracts. Yet we know they surely knew what their demands were.

Now how long are you going to put up in the mosquito- and insect-infested jungles, singing the songs of freedom? Now many of the brothers have also crossed the fence, looking for greener pastures, using their entrepreneurial skills in redefining business.

Now you are equally parasitic as the government. You kill just like them. You intimidate just like them. I’m sorry to admit it but you are just assholes like them. We are better off, without both of you.

In the name of brotherhood, I should admit I have very little interest in creating a dictatorship of the donkeys; and that we have to depend on others’ ideologies for any original thought, if at all we have, is penned in our own but illegible scripts that we had never learn to read and write. But you know, we need no language to express our love for humanity.

We should keep in touch. So long. Yours sincerely, K—

PS: Please don’t let us say, your revolution rhymes with excretion.

   What do we get out of the cocktail of tragedy, rules and revolution? A fucked up world.   



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