TODAY -

Manipur : As I grew up in
- Part 1 -

Shantikumar Moirangthem *



" God Heavens!
Is my country so beautiful?
Is the valley so enchanting?
Is the Khwairamband so tidy?"

: Laishram Somorendra

Manipur in the 1950s and early 1960s—the years of my childhood—was a place of much enchantment and innocence even as it was characterised by crumbling infrastructures, potholed roads and shoddy bridges.In the turn of the century, the ambiance at Imphal started taking shape the way it looks today. The age-old Khwairamband Keithel was renovated by Col. Shakespear with curved CI Sheets and iron pillars in 1905. Thong Nambonbi, the first and only arch-bridge in Manipur was started in 1854 and completed in record one year and one month's time.

After a cooling period of two decades, another brick-bridge—this time over the adjacent Naga river—was constructed in 1875, completing the connectivity around the central hub of Khwairamband Keithel. In the 1960s, I saw a fleet of local boats tethered near the solitary peepal tree (existing) on the bank of the Nambul river on the northern side of Thong Nambonbi, loaded with piling stakes of earthen pots-–it was the last of commercial transport I ever saw on the Nambul River near Khwairamband Keithel.

At the confluence of Naga river and the Nambul river, on the southern side of the Maharani bridge at the junction angle on the Uripok side, there was a raised space of about 40ft by 50ft where annually Durga Puja was held for the past 50 yearstill the construction of the existing bridge above Nambul river connecting Sagolband and Uripok at the road-heads.

At other times, in the off season of Puja, it was invariably used for religious ceremonies like Asthi-Sanchay, and children used to play marbles under the big twin Keli-Kadamtrees growing tightly in the western side of the same sandy space.

All these structures and spaces had been razed and filled up when the construction of the said newbridge connecting the western end of Thong Nambonbi and western end of Maharani Thong was startedin the year 1993 (*Courtesy: Sri Irengbam Lokendrajit, Rtd. S.E)

Even the usual scene of an Indian Bazar began to take shape slowly and slowly in the main market; the smell of rotting vegetables and filthy drains near the vegetable market mixed with the acrid odour from the open urinals and ill-managed latrines near the Chafu-yonfam (earthen pot stalls) adjacent to Ngari Ducan and fish market seemed to be heightened in the heated stale-air of the low hanging curved iron roofs.

The stains of red betel nut juice spattered the corners of the market. Kwa-chaba or pan-chewing which we learned from the Pong Ningthou in the historical time became a religious compulsion when Meiteis converted into Hinduism in the early 17th Century and turned into a common habit while taking refuge in Cachar in the early 19th century staying amidst indulgently pan-chewing Bengalis during Seven Years' Devastation.

Once Mrs. Grimwood described the pan-chewing Prince Angousana, the twenty three year-old son of Chandrakirti - "I never remember seeing him without a huge piece of beetle-nut in his mouth, which he used to chew. It gave him the appearance of having a swollen face, as he stuffed enormous bits of it into his mouth all at once, exactly as a monkey will do with nuts or anything of the kind (* My Three years in Manipur : MrsGrimwood, page-135). "

We had a very innocent childhood without mobile phones, laptops, andeven without radio until 1956 when my father bought his first electronic box- a Phillips Valve Radio with its Wire Antenna, and our entire neighbourhood crowded at our front corridor to listen to the Manipuri programme.

We all grew up with mother's lullaby of "Tha Tha Thabungton", then graduated to aunt's folktales of "Pebet", "Kabui Kei Oiba", "Shamu Angouba" and when it was all exhausted and we still pestered for more and more stories, aunty migrated her narratives to the inexhaustible repository of Mahabharata and Ramayana. We did not have video games, but for visual entertainments we occasionally visited Sumang Lila in the neighbourhood with relatives and friends.

The one I saw was "Charairongba" in which the actor playing the role of Chaibi, the female protagonist, was good-looking, and fair; next, after sometime, I witnessed 'Sandrembi Cheishra", again having the same cast.

In the game time, we played Football- most of the time substituted by Nobab, a big citrus fruit and hockey with sticks made of bamboo roots.Our favourite game was, of course, marble which we played by counting every shot progressively as Three, Six, Nine (pronounced as Nayen), Twelve and then calling the last shot Mor-re, meaning killed, as the opponent's marble was hit.

When I started my schooling at Uripok Boys' LP School, I found some of my friends still dressed in what we call Khudei, a shortened form of dhotis worn above the knee- a snippet of Meitei cultural continuum.

We had very limited space for playfields in the Uripok area- either we play at the Cheirap Court compound or Laphubon Lampak where a Petrol Pump is now located in the eastern side of Ibotonsana School. The Cheirap Court compound is a centralised location where court games like Volleyball was introduced in Manipur; and many players grew up to reach state and national level.

Maharajah Churachand"s eldest son Bodhachandra was a Volleyball enthusiast and his favourite court was the one inside the Cheirap Court complex and actively played during 1948 and 1949. The day when Maharaj Budhachandra's game was scheduled, both the courts of Cheirap and Panchai were declared holiday and spectators started trickling in.

Budhachandra arrived in his Olive Green car along with his retinue; after due reception by the players and local organisers, Maharaj played with his dhoti tucked up and mostly he did the serves. One day, it so happened that Maharajah while serving stepped over the service line which was a foot-fault and Umpire inadvertently called "no-fault" and the opposite side objected.

When the Umpire ignored the complaint, one of the players from the opposite team, R.K. Hajursana kicked out the ball into the Nambul river. Everybody freezed in apprehension- players and spectators. Maharajah stood still and kept quite for sometime- then asked softly " Who was it ?" Some one beseeched for pardon- "Maharajah,...Nachani (he is your son)"... implying he was also a Rajkumar and related to the Rajah. To cut the story short, the well intentioned king took everything in game spirit and the play resumed.

Yes, in the past we did not have all the luxuries that we take for granted in 2019, but we found joy in the simple things and absolutely no fear and apprehension out of social disharmony; no gun totting criminals or rapists on the prowl. No stress, no worries, in those days even the night life was longer.

We returned late around 10.30 pm after last cinema shows and drama charity shows in groups of families with sleeping children in the arms of parents specially in the festival time: on the way home, we even bought Keli Chana- earlier, only fried Masla Channa was available, than later changed to Mangal (dry pea)- to be had with late dinner.

In 1962, at the time of Chinese invasion, the market was closed at sunset for security reasons. The restrictions and little inconveniences to the public were continued for a long time and then gradually relaxed- only to be resurrected again in a severeform in the late 1970s for a different reason this time.

Twenty-nine years after Manipur's merger with India, the cloud of dissent and disillusionment rumbling for decades, finally burst on 17 July, 1978 when two innocent police officers were killed and their service revolvers were snatched by a group of insurgents in the heart of Imphal town at Takhel Leikai.

It was only a beginning. Towards the close of 1970s and early 1980s, the valley witnessed killings, lootings, extortions, encounters with security forces, both fake and real- against the backdrop of high level corruptions in the government and public apathy. The spate of violence and lawlessness has been continued unabated for years till to-day though in a reduced scale to some extent in the last few years.

This article was first published on 11 October, 2019 in the Souvenir , 94th Birth Anniversary of R.K.Maipaksana

To be continued .....


* Shantikumar Moirangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on December 23, 2019 .



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #35: Download
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Gastronomy tourism in Manipur : Gallery
  • Triathlon : Manipur bag 6 medals (3 gold)
  • Illegal immigrants/fugitives from Myanmar
  • Eid-ul-Adha: Embracing sacrifice
  • A solution to Meitei-Kuki-Zo conflict
  • The Power of Poppy - 35 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: R K Brojen Singh
  • Brief sketch on General Balaram Sougaijamba
  • Non-violent for peaceful, mutual co-existence
  • Homeless person ..alcoholism & defeated TB
  • Cancer on rise among young adults
  • Defending, fighting for Idea of Manipur
  • From partiality to complicity
  • Bike Rally - Sekmai to Kangla : Gallery
  • 'Modi must announce finality of Naga pacts'
  • Gliding over Brahmaputra
  • Question leaks cause stress among student
  • Home remedies for prickly heat
  • After IIT, AIIMS it is now IIM
  • Stealing spotlight from Manipur crisis
  • Tarpon chaklen katpa @ Andro #2 : Gallery
  • Strongly condemns violence in Jiribam
  • Lessons from outcome of LS election
  • Tumcho releases "Goodness of God"
  • Right diagnostic for antimicrobial resistance
  • 12th June is World Day against Child Labour
  • Hands of geo-politics ?
  • The row over NEET-2014
  • 2nd Annual Art Exhibition #1 : Gallery
  • Chilli Chicken: Film Spotlighting NE in B'lore
  • Committee of Narcotics Anonymous - Imphal
  • The Power of Meditation
  • Oceans as a career choice
  • Getting more and more audacious
  • A test of leadership
  • Education Fair @Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Gifting two seats to Cong
  • Voters empowered democracy
  • Postcards from Meghalaya premieres
  • Milk : Essential nutrient for a healthy body
  • Failing in competitive exam not end of world
  • Delhi : A mere spectator
  • Abandoning Jiribam
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #5
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #2 : Gallery
  • Mainstream in Shoes of Alternative
  • Protect the medicines that protect us
  • Lets take action for our land & our future
  • Democracy and independent media
  • Agenda at work to shut Western Gate
  • Keeping Manipur on the boil
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #34: Download
  • The Enigmatic Journey of 'Laikhutshangbi'
  • Individual and the Social
  • An Ardent Appeal to All Concerns
  • Condemnation of Attack & Govt Inaction
  • The Power of Poppy - 34 :: Poem
  • Scientist of Manipur: Laishram Shanta
  • Alien fishes spotted in Manipur's rivers
  • Training on mushroom at Langthabal
  • Digital avatars or deepfakes ?
  • 7th June is the World Food Safety Day
  • How to prepare for UPSC after 10th ?
  • The Jiri violence
  • Beginning of a new vote culture ?
  • Bimol Akoijam (Cong) wins Inner PC : Gallery
  • BJP, NPF & other NDA pay heavy price
  • Nature is one of greatest blessings of God
  • Plantation drive in Tripura, Assam & Manipur
  • Summer beauty
  • Environment conservation & over-exploitation
  • Is Modi cut out for leading a coalition ?
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #2: Gallery
  • Scholarship for Johnstone Hr Sec students
  • 1st foundation day of Interfaith Forum
  • World Environment Day: Our land, our future
  • Indonesia stronger anti-tobacco measures
  • Navigating a fragile Myanmar: India's policy
  • New breed entering electoral politics
  • The road to formation of new govt
  • International Dance Day #1 : Gallery
  • Matchbox marketing mantra
  • Stop harming nature :: Poem
  • Saving for oneself & the Nation
  • Model United Nations (MUN) conducted
  • Tobacco: Threat to health & environment
  • Candidate from ruling party biting the dust
  • The verdict
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #4
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #3 : Gallery
  • Navigating Remal amidst Manipur conflict
  • We are #GenerationRestoration
  • Intl Day of Innocent Children Victims
  • Apparel Industry Skills & Innovation CoE
  • What's in a cyclone's name ?
  • Ongoing clash, the floods, the losses
  • Exit poll predictions
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #33: Download
  • Evading flood & rethinking urbanization
  • Manipur Flood: Health Advisory
  • Onus on civil bodies to ensure NNPG unity
  • Rats also cause flood
  • Benefits of JEE Main mock tests
  • People have spoken, now the results
  • The fury of Remal
  • Ima Keithel flood- May 30 #1 : Gallery
  • The flood in our Stars
  • The Power of Poppy - 33 :: Poem
  • 'Group of people misrepresented themselves'
  • EV industry and career options
  • Scientist of Manipur: Chandrakant Aribam
  • Candy flavoured traps to hook next Gen
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #2
  • Tobacco affects health & environment too
  • Jio extend validity for Customer in Manipur
  • Students must learn about AI irrespective
  • As vote count day approaches : Floods
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #2 : Gallery
  • Flooded : Sacrifice of Yairipok's Maiden
  • World No Tobacco Day 2024
  • Chandam Rishikanta wins NPC Nat'l C'ship
  • Flood: Helpline numbers for emergency
  • Battling body odour ?
  • Floods : Not entirely natural phenomena
  • PM Modi's purpose
  • Imphal valley districts flooded #1 : Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Flood: Control Rooms & Helpline numbers
  • Economic impact of ongoing conflict
  • Army Recruitment Rally for Manipur
  • Cut deficit, boom likely
  • Are Gods angry ? Wake up call for Manipur
  • Beating of the Retreat #2 : Gallery
  • We did Overcome: Mayhem of Month of May
  • Training on mushroom at Potshagbam
  • Famous female Mathematicians in India
  • Disinformation campaign thengnare
  • Human trafficking puts humanity to shame
  • Sky opens up in all its fury
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • Combined Defence Services Exam 2024
  • Good show in Class X exams
  • Downplaying the crisis
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #3
  • Reviving Lamphelpat : Conservation : Gallery
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #1
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hojai
  • The Power of Poppy - 32 :: Poem
  • Insights from CUET-UG Counselling
  • International Day for Biological Diversity
  • Unseen force at work: Time to unravel it
  • Sheikh Hasina's revelation
  • The Vanishing Meitei Tribe
  • Building career in defence & strategic study
  • Why example of model code of conduct ?
  • Ownership of responsibility
  • Will pressure mount on key players in NE
  • How to save your foot after an accident
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #3 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Project Associate @ CSE, Assam Univ
  • Understanding schizophrenia
  • Advancement in Multi Objective Optimization
  • When will women in voter list increase ?
  • Making 2 plus 2 is equal to 5
  • Changing face of drug menace
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • 25 yrs since Atal Vajpayee visit to RIMS
  • 4 Lakhs donated to support (L) Maipak Family
  • Clarification: Guwahati Meet on Humanitarian
  • Start UPSC prep after 12th for success
  • Tips to avoid melting makeup in summer
  • Giving a big solid push to ST demand
  • Time to come clean
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #3
  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #2 : Gallery
  • A year of hostilities
  • Licypriya Kangujam to travel to Italy
  • Declining moral standards in public life
  • Healthy democracy with independent media
  • Why endangered species matter to us
  • Significant Guwahati meeting : 1st visible step
  • The Pallel story
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #2 : Gallery
  • Ukhrul: Climate change grip on water supply
  • Commemoration of World Eld's Deer Day
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hiyanglam
  • Dance of democracy, a miracle in making !
  • Learn to look 10/20/30 years hence
  • The zero FIR, zero lesson
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #1: Gallery
  • MOU signed: MTI-HUB & KIIT-TBI & SAbF
  • Lament of the Mourning Choir :: Poem
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Wabagai
  • RSS-BJP fracas
  • Trials for Canoe Slalom World Cup
  • Poser from a villager says it all Kamjong
  • The cover-up effort
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #2
  • Manipuri women in the arena of politics
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Assam
  • Aimee Baruah at red carpet of Cannes
  • National Defence Academy Exam 2024
  • How digital media changed communications
  • Manipur stands scandalised
  • All eyes on UP battle
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #32: Download
  • Riots to a shrine- Ram Mandir of Ayodhya
  • Handle with care. F.R.I.E.N.D.S inside!
  • The Power of Poppy - 31 :: Poem
  • Celebrate the journey !
  • Career counselling : A life guidance tool
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Regarding Human Rights Situation in Manipur
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #2: Gallery
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • AISSE 2024 Exam Result- RKM Imphal
  • Gold, new world currency !
  • Milk for hair and skin
  • Of illegal immigrants & the larger picture
  • The missive from Kamjong
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • World Bamboo Congress @Taiwan : Gallery
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #1 : Gallery
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Cheirao-chingkaba @ Chinga : Gallery
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • '365 Days of Chin-Kuki Aggression' : Gallery
  • Athoubasingi Numit #2 : Gallery
  • National Science Teacher workshop
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • Kenedy Khuman (Singer) : Gallery
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD