Ten Manipuri Things That Burn My Soul

Woods, rivers, mountains
I said I love for love’s sake
Tarzan they called me
Ten Manipuri Things That Burn My Soul

It is overwhelming at times how fortunate it is to belong to a place flooded with striking natural landscapes. This single factor offers so much solace but like an unexpected storm destroying the tranquility of a night, some of my tribe’s traits and social mores spoil my mood beyond control every time I come across any one of them. Or to put in another way, there are positive things in life, which accentuate its essence. There are also negative things that make the balance. But the good is grossly lacking as the bad rules the roost in my hometown. Some of the most irritating things in the world are seen in a Manipuri life, driving me on the verge of being a judgmental prick though I want to admit it. Anyway, here’s a list of randomly-ordered ten annoying things that burn my soul:

   1 See You Dance Like Everybody Is Watching      Respectable feminists might be mistaken at this gender reference, yet it is true that more girls watch Hindi serials than the boys and that this has nothing to do with the male-female power play. It is to some extent acceptable because of the intense emotional appeal that the girls find inviting in these idiot-box shows. But the impression from some of my male friends — with their penises and their committed love for vaginas — watching programmes like Dance India Dance and Indian Idol, is outrageously disgraceful. How can you clap when the gimcrack performers shake their oversized butts? Arrrrghhh! Let one season of one of their favourite shows conclude and they should kill themselves.

   2 Corporal Punishment For Morons Who Call Shamumakhong The Haathi Chowk   History shows us how we stumbled so badly, when we were forced to transform from our traditional economy to a global industrial system during the imperial period. We are yet to recover from this sickness. That period was also when the mainland (read the Hindi-speaking) people captured the financial centre and the business bastion in Imphal. Their expertise is laudable but they should be given more chance to learn Manipuri. On the other hand, there are some local language experts who usually speak to them in Hindi. For the record they are not experts but people who should be sent away to Siberia for their unasked love for one of the national languages. This habit is more apparent in dealing with the retail shops from a layman’s observation. Please don’t encourage cultural suicide. We are already dying from a cultural genocide. For validation, go to the Rajesh Book Store, run by a gentleman from Bihar, buy and read the Manipuri books on how we have been inching towards the brink of extermination, like the original Tripuris who have become a minority in their own state. Your deep knowledge of Hindi can be useful when you go to Delhi or Mumbai. So be it. There are also some more people who would use words like Bhabhi and Bheiya when addressing their family members like they would love to fuck their sisters-in-law and kill their brothers-in-law.

Ten Manipuri Things That Burn My Soul
Let there be light
   3 Race In Piece     We watch the most ridiculous Bolywood movies and would love to talk to the junk dealers from Uttar Pradesh in broken Hindi. But why do we hate the mainland mayang so much? Some 10 to 15 years ago, I had some friends from Uripok, Nagamapal, Khoyathong and Thangmeiband, who shared an uncanny hobby: every evening they would go to Khwairamband Keithel and thrash any mayang whoever comes their way. But nowadays, security is very tight in and around the market. This is just the tip of the mayang phobia. The very term ‘mayang’, for us, connotes a group of people whose slyness can be challenged only by those monkeys at the Mahabali temple. Subsequently our past time is bashing India. India has not done this. India has not done that. India cannot do this. India cannot do that. But we will vote for India once in a five year even if we have spent the previous four years doing nothing but picking the country apart. We will seek for government jobs, which are indirectly a part of the Indian investment, and then damn the government. So the bottom line is that it will do us a world of good if we are clear about a stand.

   4 The Ad Of Appreciation For The Honourable Contractors      A major portion of the Indian investment goes directly to the pockets of the honourable ministers — the well-connected mohoris of the state. We know it. We also know that it is the responsibility of the people-elect mohoris to build the road and bridge. We know that’s common sense and we do know common sense is the least common thing in our world. Ironically when the mohoris contribute, not out of generosity but of necessity, we know without fail, we have to publish an ad of appreciation on a couple of local dailies. How is it that we are so happy to be the wisest fools in this shitty corner of the world? Ladies and gentlemen, it is their duty to build roads and bridges, like the sun is to shine; the clock is to tell time; the books are to be read. We should appreciate if the mohoris are pro-people; however, it is a shame if we keep publishing those ridiculous ads.

   5 “Leikai Macha Tinnade” Is A Cool Statement. Not!      All of us, several times in our life, come across this piece of advice from the elders: Don’t mix up with the fellows from the locality. In a sense, almost every locality is infested with drug problems and other addiction like gambling, and our parents are more worried about our friends from the backyard. That’s quite understandable. This is perhaps the root cause of making the style statements, such as ‘I know very few people from our leikai (locality)’, ‘I know no one from our leirak’. From a closer look, it means only one thing: I am a complete loser. So sad.

   6 Unholy Marriages And Masturbation      Yes, we live in a closely-knit community. Even if I have no leikai friend, the leikai and the leikai club are the authority in so many aspects of our social life. Let’s take an example. Sometimes the culture police would catch a couple, indulging in extra-marital affairs, catch them in compromising positions, which results in a keina-katpa ceremony — a forced marriage of the erring couple in the most embarrassing way. Needless to say, in a small town this kind of barbarian community usance makes up for the emptiness and the ennui, which mark our daily life. Our sense of immorality is equally disgusting like the tag of immorality that we would attach to the supposedly immoral people. And more distastefully than our intolerance to see other people making love, it is a mandate of the people to demolish the house of any suspect in a crime. Any rapist or killer or criminal cannot escape from excommunication either, although there is an exception, provided the criminal is a minister’s bastard. Unfailingly most of the time, the law-enforcing agencies would masturbate, watching the passion of mobocracy, when the leikai authority serves the justice in kangaroo courts.

   7 The Art Of Criticism       If there is anything that the collective Manipuris can do well, then it is our knack for criticism. Without rhyme or reason we would fight amongst each other. We know the best place for excelling this art: the leipung or the okoo, both of which can be roughly translated as the male-dominated meeting ground for gossiping in a locality. In fact this writing is a direct offshoot of a leipung. For instance I have very little knowledge of English and a retarded analytical thinking ability; still I would damn everybody, everything using this foreign language. This pessimism runs deep in our blood that puritans would subscribe it to the pollution of the Meiteis, an ethnic group that dwells in the Manipur valley, during the forceful proselytisation to the Hindu faith three centuries ago. But the sheer gossiping nature and disregard for others without any substantiation, plus the crab-in-the-well mentality, are sickening than anything else.

   8 Showroom Surprises And Rock n’ Roll Renegades        A showroom, in my hometown, mainly refers to a retail outlet that sells assorted branded apparels, with the bulk of it comprising sports garments. Reebok, Adidas, Nike are a hit, especially among the young people. Guys, there are also branded clothes, which are more stylish than these sports products. But it is an open secret, in this land of emptiness, how they can afford to buy and dress the costliest clothes, because their parents are as ambitious as Ambani, whose office hours are almost equal to a Bolywood movie and whose purported social standing in this shitty land is more important than their actual homes ridden with spider webs. This statement holds true for more than 90 percent of us. Let your parents loot and you can go to the Gambhir Shopping Arcade and the Leima Shopping Plaza. For the more adventurous types, well, there are numberless malls and real showrooms elsewhere, of course, outside the state. This breed of people is also more inclined to rock music than the leikai bums who prefer to listen to Sadananda and Dinesh. It is also more pathetic to know your taste of music develops as if you grew up in America and Korea, as if you have never come across the police frisking, the rowdiness of the commandos, the daily bomb threats and explosion.

   9 Tourangbam Chaoba Singh and Laiphakpham Laisana Devi       Three hundred years of copying and pasting the cultural traits of other seemingly more progressive societies, or the Hindus of the present eastern India to be precise, have made us used to a habit that is as pungent as spoiled curd. We are talking about no other thing but the suffixing of Singh and Devi in our name. Nobody can tell a Tourangbam Chaoba Singh and a Laiphakpham Laisana Devi, with their Singhs and Devis, if they are from a Rajput family in Uttar Pradesh or they are farmers in Punjab. It is a personal choice to get a name but when we are in a collective shit-hole, the Singhs and Devis really worsen the stink all around.

   10 The Art of Getting Together      When the Naga issue erupted, a voice of our defeat was heard distinctly. We sighed and regretted that we never spend time together and that disunity is our name. But other people (read the Nagas), we further sigh again, that they have their churches where they meet every week and hence their apparent unity. I would beg to differ, however, in our impression about having very less chance to unite in good times and bad. For example, in every locality we have the ‘ookoo’ and ‘leipoong’, where we can spend all the time. (Remember where we have excelled the art of criticism.) And if there is any plan to gather together, we can arrange for a feast and I bet nobody will be unwilling to share a plate of rice and some meat with some drinks. Future generation will read us about in a history book, a paragraph of our existence: “Once, our ancestors were living in a hellish condition that breeds revolution and corruption. But they fought against all odds, their unity was found galore in eating places, which they used to call ‘theebong-chanapham’ and nowhere else; and their discourse was informative and entertaining, which they used to call ‘wathee-warem’ that was held in every ‘ookoo’ and ‘leipoong’ and nowhere else”. Wari touse hairagana wathi ngangnasi, poonsi hairagana thibong chanasi. This is the art of being social and the science of studying different personality types. Sad but true, but this is the Manipuri tragedy. 

Ten Manipuri Things That Burn My Soul



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