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A Compilation of Works by Laishram Samarendra Released on His 87th Birthday

A Complete Collected Work of Laishram Samarendra Released on His 87th Birthday
2012 © All the images are the property of Okelo Yaikhom
Leirak amada natraga leikai amada machin thiba ama. 
Machin thiba mari na dealer ama
Dealer marinasu machin thiba tarataruk nasu leader ama.
Leader mari na member ama.
Member taruk na mantri ama.

(Suplak by L Samarendra, Khul Amagi Wari, 1985

In the mid part of this year, I’m fortunate to have attended the birthdays of two great personalities of our generation. The first party of Bob Dylan in May at a lake resort near Shillong concluded with some bad impressions, created by, on one hand, the utter lack of originality in the performance of the local host — who has been organising the show for nearly 40 years — and his inability, on the other, to imitate the political novelty of the great American musician. The second party of the illustrious Manipuri poet, Laishram Samarendra, was held on July 20, back home in Imphal. If I have to choose the more enjoying birthday out of the two, I find it quite easy to pick out the second one as it was more entertaining with more reasons I can even care to remember. 

Wahoudok: An Introduction 

Lairabagi imungda 
Lairabagi manakta famlui 
Lairabana pirak-e chaoraba noogdoom ama 
     ‘Nareibakta soo noong aduna’ hairak-e. 
(A part of Lairabagi Waa by L Samarendra, Waa Amata Haige Telangga, 1962) 

A Complete Collected Work of Laishram Samarendra Released on His 87th Birthday
Laishram Samarendra entertained the crowd
with his wit and sense of humour
Laishram Samarendra, in a great style, had celebrated his 87th birthday in a courtly function at the Manipur Dramatic Union hall on that fine, sunny July afternoon. The centrepiece of the party was the releasing of his complete collected work, compiled by two giants of Manipuri literature: Thangjam Ibopishak and Yumlembam Ibomcha. One of the most remarkable things about the old man was his infectious sense of humour on the stage. With his mischievous smile, he narrated how he always tried to keep back his expressive style, so that it forbore Rabindranath Tagore’s writing despite his weakness for anything that is related to Tagore. He also enthralled the crowd singing a stanza of song each in several languages including Bengali, Tangkhul and Mao. 

The book titled Laishram Samarendragi Apunba Lairik is a compilation of all his published books/works: six books on poetry (which has around 146 poems including those he published individually in various newspapers and journals), one on prose and a score of artworks. It is remarkable that all the original covers, the prefaces and other front matters of the books have been reprinted in this volume. Yumlembam Ibomcha, in his speech, also mentioned the spelling style of the poet has been left unchanged and each section is an exact replica of the published edition, so basically, this book is only a repro yet a more beautiful and complete collection. 

Thangjam Ibopishak heralded Laishram Samarendra as one of the pioneers of modern Manipuri literature. When Elangbam Nilkanta published Manipur in 1949 — a book which has been considered as the trendsetter of modern Manipuri poetry and which exposed the sociopolitical issues, the value system and the crises of that crucial period of the state’s history — Samarendra had already published a poem Lei Langba in 1946. But Ibopishak pointed out, it failed to catch attention as it conformed to the style of the conventional romanticism initiated by Khwairakpam Chaoba, Dr Lamabam Kamal and a few others. He added the greatness of Samarendra’s poems, which are mostly written in a colloquial style, lies in their sense of freshness and surprise. 

A Complete Collected Work of Laishram Samarendra Released on His 87th Birthday
Yumlembam Ibomcha and Thangjam Ibopishak spoke at length about the book, how the late Shamurailatpam Gopal Sharma, the former editor of Poknapham, conceived the idea about publishing it, and the errands they had to run  
Manipuri Literature: From Sahitya to Loinasillon 

Kiganu! 
Lin natte 
Eigi kabitani 
Ngeihakta thanamge nangonda 
Nahakki nanakta 
(Ngeihaktani by L Samarendra, Wakching-gi Kabita, 1999) 

In days to come, I am planning to do the review of the book, better if I can do it ‘book by book’. Should I admit only a couple of years ago I had started following Manipuri literature. After finishing Class 10th, which until then was a compulsory subject, I have only read journals, some novels and a few non-fictions but have I hardly followed the serious literature. One reason that put me off is the stinking nature of Sanskritisation and Bengalisation in Manipuri literature. Even the word we use for the very term literature, Sahitya, is a Sanskrit word. 

My laziness and ignorance also played a major role in making me turn a blind eye to our own literature. I have found in this literature, however, a source of our roots; still I believe that as long as we are using the Bengali script and are reading the Shri Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the infiltration of other cultures to lead by the nose — deceiving us to accept that we are but an offshoot of the Aryan evolution while unfortunately forgetting our own Self — is inevitable. Our literature must be what makes us, not mars us. This statement will be clearer if you understand that we were proselytised into Hindus, our books were burnt and our scripts prohibited for nearly three centuries and we were once hoodwinked to believe that we originated from the Mahabharat.   

Back to the Party 

MA pass touraga 
Eidi kolege gi oja oijage 
Amuba tie punduna 
Achouba wakhan khanjage 
Nanna loona leijage 
(A part of MA Pass Touraga by L Samarendra, Mamang Leikai Thambal Shatle, 1974) 

It was a golden chance, at the book release function, to listen to the two great littérateurs, Yumlembam Ibomcha and Thangjam Ibopishak, who have compiled the book. Both of them are also the reason how I have been able to follow Manipuri literature in spite of my hesitation towards Bengali-type lit and more leaning towards English lit. Yet their writing — on realistic themes, of social relevance and their satirical style, especially Ibomcha’s humourous stories and Ibopishak’s witty poems — is where I’m personally inclined to. They have also convinced me it’s not the language but that the content and its message are more worthy in any form of reading and writing. 

A Complete Collected Work of Laishram Samarendra Released on His 87th Birthday
"Let me do it myself," says Laishram Samarendra. The lady in the photo is Sh Shantikumari.
The two Oja unanimously expressed their respect for the former editor of Poknapham, the late Shamurailatpam Gopal Sharma, who was the brain behind this book. Shamurailatpam Ongbi Gurumayum Shantikumari also graced the function. Poknapham Publications has published this book. 

At the end of the function we had refreshment that included a piece of the birthday cake. First, we listened to the supermen, and we got the book at a special prize of Rs 150 (the printed rate is Rs 250), and then when we got the cake, our day was made. We also had a short photo session with the bunch of Oja on the stage, took autographs from them and finally so happily we left the place. 
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Laishram Samarendragi Apunba Lairik
Complete Completed Works of Laishram Samarendra
Compiled by Thangjam Ibopishak and Yumlembam Ibomcha
Poknapham Publications, Padma Printers, July 2012
Price Rs 250
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 Personal Details 
Laishram Samarendra (20 July, 1925– ) was born in Yaiskul Hiruhanba Leikai, Imphal. He matriculated in 1944 and graduated in 1948 from Calcutta University. He started his career as a high school teacher and further worked as an officer in the government departments of education, social welfare, and art and culture. He had also worked as a compounder. He lives with his wife, Huidrom Ningol Laishram Ongbi Binapani, and has seven daughters. 
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  Published Work  
1. Waa Amata Haige Telangga (Poetry; 1962, reprinted in 1996) 
2. Mamang Leikai Thambal Shatle (Poetry; 1974, reprinted in 1991) 
3. Khul Amagi Wari (Poetry; 1985) 
4. Kabi Samarendragi Khomjinba Lairik (Poetry; 1997) 
5. Sana Kiethelgi Laiphaddabi by Tonu Devi (Poetry; 1999) 
6. Wakchinggi Kabita (Poetry; 1999) 
7. Swargada Awaba Amasoong Nungaiba (Prose; 1999) 
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  Awards  
1. Jamini Sundar Guha Gold Medal (1975) 
2. Manipur State Kala Akademi Award (1975) 
3. Sahitya Akademi Award (1976) 
4. Kabiratna (1992) 
5. Khoirom Tomchou Ningsing Sanagi Medal (2000) 
6. Jananeta Irabot Mana (2003) 
7. Dr Kamal Kabiratna Ningsing Selgi Mana (2004) 
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* Source: Laishram Samarendragi Apunba Lairik 

Check the photos of the book-release function on E-pao 

Read some Manipuri poems written in Roman alphabets
http://numit-kappa.blogspot.com/


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