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‘Ani Thokpi’

A monument of German division [Image courtesy: Pixabay]

United, we may not be in Manipur and divided, it will be a crime against humanity to appropriate the concept of duality and schism as ours

As a society, we are one hell of a people so disunited—and fragmented if we take into account of our values and sensibilities—and what is so common amongst us, at the cost of using a cliché, is our difference of opinions that we flaunt with no respect for others’ perspectives whatsoever. In fact, this is one of the most universal characteristics of a decadent society, and we have so many of them.  Take underdevelopment for instance. Armed conflicts. Rising inequalities. Gender gaps. Power vacuum and the rush for filling it in. ‘Overloaded’ necropolitics. Frustration. Unrest.

If we were Europeans, we would have come up with our Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance and all sorts of stuffs that give humanity a purpose of living in this hauntingly solitary rock called the Earth. The British film noir, The Third Man reminded me of the comparison. There’s a quote from the film:

You know what the fellow said—in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

However, in reality, we still have nothing and what we have done is committing a crime against humanity by trying to appropriate a universal manifestation of ‘ani-thokpi’, which literally means ‘being two’, that is being divided. It implies as mentioned, we always split into two, as if we are some bicellular diplococcus bacteria. Some of us would condemn it, and many a time, it would breed self-loathing further bring out the worst from us, ourselves.

As Uncle Darwin told us, we evolved from the cousins of gorillas and chimpanzees but they might have also evolved from simpler and ‘lower’ organisms on a timeline that goes back, long, long, very long back to the days of microorganisms if we dig further into the science of evolution. My implication is that, perhaps, we might still be in the time zone of bicellular life forms, after graduating from those of unicellular mentally, though physically in a gravity-defying time lapse, we may now have ‘landed’ into the so-called 21st century.

We cannot deny we are always divided on issues big and small but again it will be a crime against humanity to appropriate this concept of ani-thokpi as ours as many of us tend to do. Yes, we do, sometimes in an Archimedean-eureka style if we could relate ourselves to a particular issue. For all the Michelangelos and Leonardo da Vincis that we do not have, it is hardcore lazy conceptualisation to come up with the idea that ani-thokpi is a Manipuri thing. For all it’s worth, the very expression in Meiteilon language might be ours but the concept is not. We are too self-centred to come up with such an idea any way.

If you are not convinced, duality makes up the Universe. Case closed. For the sake of agreement, if we take into account the idea of schism, well, then we can talk further. Still, it is pretty much a universal phenomenon.

Take some random examples. British India got separated into several phony nation-states; the Muslims that the West see as one hell raiser of terror are grouped themselves into different sects that do not themselves see eye to eye; national parliaments are formally divided into opposing groups; the Nagas are divided though the IM faction has done a great job in consolidating the communities; and the least it is said the better it is for the Universe when we talk about its origin. If we ignore the God-loving people for a while, or talk science in precise, scientists are still divided over the Big Bang and the Big Bounce Theories. It’s all about the degree of differences only.

And so now, it might be okay if we are unaware nevertheless it remains offensive to appropriate a concept. We cannot simply ignore the irony here as well. We are disunited but we the people—in a style that befits only a united society—are so united in considering with our sense of ‘discretion’ that ani-thokpi is our ‘thing’. Nope. It is not. We should rather embrace it and try to make a cosmic connection while meditating on duality.


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