On August 13

Freedom should be drawn
In little things that we do,
Governments should die

August 13 is celebrated as the Patriots' Day in Manipur. It was on this day in 1891, a few Manipuri bravehearts were hanged to death and the erstwhile kingdom was annexed into the British India. More than a hundred years have passed, and their spirit has always been a guiding light. We are proud that our ancestors stood up, even if they know the might of the imperial power of those days. They taught us that it is better to live free for a day and die than to live as a slave for a lifetime. However I hang my head in shame, how they would have loathe to see we have reached here: this place where the gun rules and this time when money decides everything. In our story we have had four twists: the imposition of Hinduism, the Seven-year Devastation, the onset of imperialism and the Merger Agreement -- in these tales lie the narratives that have determined where and who we are now. We cannot unmake and undo the past yet certainly we can shape our future. It is nice to say things like this, though deep inside us, we know everything has always been bleak. How nice it will be, if we can simplify all these complex issues.

In our generation the term 'patriot' is the cloud during the days of drought, when rain is the only thing people need. Police, army and commandos, those who live to protect the land, on one hand, and the insurgents and rebels who exist to protect the land on the other; both of them have redefined themselves as the state and non-state actors in the propagation of terrorism, showing us how the term has apparently become so profane and abusive. Nothing can be more distressful than their actions. Our apathy also makes the matter worse. This year, let the Patriots' Day be a reminder that we have enough heroes and that we need no more. Peace.

Thawan Haiku
An August 13 haiku collection from last year



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