Thursday, December 13, 2012

To make way for the new

Some things you understand
Like the harvest every hiyangei
The toiling in the fields
To celebrate the bounty of the earth
With Lai haraoba, to appease Ema Lairembi
Your daughter is getting married
You have little to give her for her awunpot
You search the till for the little savings
But found nothing but despair
All you have is the house of mud,
And the black earth sustaining lives
The ways of Epa-Epu of living by the land
are but ancient relics found in phuga wari
The old ways are dying
Last evening you looked like a woman
 who lost something she can't quite remember
You gave your grateful daughter
Lik, khuji,lei made of pure gold
You had given up the old ways
To make way for the new.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

You are always counting

You are always counting days left to go back to him,
counting the distance from the room in which
 you are hugging yourself wrapped in a red cardigan
to the street where he sits on a platform
 smoking a cigarette, perhaps 2696km give or take.
You count the two languages that set you apart,
 the one language you both share even though
 you both know how to say that one line
 in each other's language. You count the dishes
you eat which he might be alien to, nga for instance,
 not to mention eromba and soibum even though
 you are quite familiar what what he eats.
You stop counting because it's tiring to count so much,
and you need to tell him you can't wait to see him.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

You arrived at twenty two

You arrived at twenty two, congratulated yourself
on surviving the 2403 kilometre journey from the
edge of the northeatern part of the country to the
 capitals in stomach churning bus rides and filthy
overcrowded trains. You were overwhelmed by
 the city, by the opulence of the haves and the
wretched poverty of the have-nots. you had come
 to forge a vague dream. to escape settling for less.
Some government job or the other, more entrance
exams to sit through. That's why you had come.
 Always that voice that said you had to better yourself.
Become a saheb of some sort. The noise of the city
didn't let you sleep at night, the constant honking
of cars till the wee hours of the morning, the hawkers
 selling their wares by loud high pitched announcements.
 You were used to the stillness of nights in the valleys
except for the regular sound of the crickets. You visited
 the India Gate, got a photograph clicked which you
promptly sent home. And you lingered for a while,
your eyes fixed at the Raisina Hill. You wondered how
 those who lived in isolation, guarded from the vexing
ordinary  existence possibly make decisions pertaining
 to his land. a place they had never visited, never tried
to understand. Just the dispatch of more military,
more weapons, harsher laws along with neglect in all
other aspects. Like all diaspora you cling to memories
of home, in your exile you have become more Manipuri
than you ever did when you lived there, finding solace
 in songs sung in your mother tongue, indulging in gossips
and news of home while eating the Marie biscuit dipped
 in chai. Now you are in your forties, eromba features
in most of your meals, you still hunt
 the vegetable market for the rare find of maroi and hangam.

A Machine of Grief

You should have realized that the faces of your childhood
which you romantise conceal so much madness, so much
pain. And that you only had to go back in your mind to see
the signs. When you were five the man who used to drive
the van to ferry you and other neighbourhood children
committed suicide. Your mother told you he is driving
a truck now. You didn’t question her. You didn’t know what
death meant or what caused it. You heard whispers
of how your much older cousin which you have met but once,
had married a man whose parents didn’t accept her
because she wasn’t their kind, not from their community.
But you didn’t know because this was the limit of your
world and you knew no other.You didn’t really know what
different was and that you would be different once you
step out. Now you know that laughter is rare,pain more
frequent. You see the violet hills with a sadness in your guts.
and the morning mist intensifies the loneliness of your
existence. And when you walk the walk you have been 
taking as long as you had learnt to walk, you walk briskly 
as though you are trying to escape from some kind of
absence, the echo of decay. While your life is disintegrating, 
even that assumes a rhythm. Melancholy becomes a 
habit the mind exercises. You have become a machine of grief.