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Khwairakpam Chaoba’s ‘Lamgi Chekla Amada’

Schools and colleges wanted me to be a romanticist because it is desirable, also because then all of us can be sentimental morons who’d be lost in the art of the arts. Such a soft-ist also makes a great conformist just like the society wants. Unsurprisingly, I was initially drawn more to the Keats & Co and closer home the Anganghal, Chaoba & Co during my teenage period.

However, while I’m into the Singnaba poets, Beat Generation, Hungryalists and their ilk,  I realised the kind of sentimental literature—which I’d love to call as heiraang-leiraang lit, or in English, the artsy-fartsy lit (from art for fart’s sake)—is for those people who live in faraway peaceful lands, where arts and literature are solely considered as a rich source of luxury and indulgence.

But still we don’t have that kind of privileges. In the words of Orwell:

This is a political age. War, fascism, concentration camps, rubber truncheons, atomic bombs, etc. are what we write about, even when we do not name them openly. We cannot help this. When you are on a sinking ship, your thoughts will be about sinking ships. (Writers and Leviathan)

After getting rid of the heiraang-leiraang lit, it took me a decade to return and re-appreciate the works in Manipuri. Maybe I have become more mature and found that the pioneers, all 100 per cent of them being romanticists, of modern Manipuri lit—who started ‘prospering’ in 1930s—did fill the vacuum that had remained empty for more than two centuries because of the onslaught of Hinduism.   

To cut it short for now, a purist delight Lamgi Chekla Amada, written by Khwairakpam Chaoba (1896–1950), is one of the most influential poems in modern Manipuri literature and is included in numerous school and college/university textbooks plus in the syllabus for competitive examinations along with the likes of Dr Lamabam Kamal’s Nirjanata, Hijam Irabot’s Chaokhatpa, Laishram Samarendra’s Amuba Khonggrao,  Thangjam Ibopishak’s Anouba Thoonglaba Jiva and many others. And here, I have just rendered the text into Meitei Mayek while I learn page layout designing.




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