TODAY -

E-Pao! Incidents - My Faraway Children

My Farway Children

Hi there!

It's really great to read these memories. Someone mentioned a time before 1988...I was last there in Jan 88. Since then Manipur seems to have changed beyond recognition, that there is even 'E-Pao online' sounds like science fiction.

Recently a foreigner asked me why I don't take my kids to Manipur so they can learn about their culture first-hand. Easy for him to say, he comes from a permanent war zone and knows no fear, and besides, God is on his side (naturally).

But he has a point and so I will try to make mine: My children have been lucky enough to grow in the comfort of safety and tolerance, learnt about the world's vast differences, and questioned the lies of war. Such things do not make them any better than the Manipuri children living in Manipur but it is certainly something I wish every child could have the benefit of.

Call me a coward if you want but there is nothing in the news about Manipur that makes me want to bring my children there. There are too many things about Manipur that make me want to weep or throw up and seemingly nothing that makes me proud other than the past. Strange as it may seem, I love Manipur too much to let my children witness its suffering.

Meanwhile, I teach them about Manipur, the North East, and India, encourage them to take on school projects with some aspect of India/Manipur as a subject, and laugh at their surprise that we Asiatic people are often treated like second-class sheep in the largest democracy in the world.

One day, in their own time, my children will return to Manipur armed with background knowledge with which they will confront the reality head-on. Whether the experience will be terrible or heart warming I can't say. But while they are young children, I just want them to learn rather than experience the Manipur of today.

If anyone wants to lecture me on the importance of culture over safety, go right ahead. And I wish your children peace too.

PS:
Before the Manipur of yesterday disappears into ancient memory banks and out of the consciousness of young people, we could do with more accounts of a time of innocence. "Yes" we can say to the kids, "there was a time when things were good and there can be a time when it is good again". After all, without hope how does a person or a people find their way to the light.



Mama (in e-Pao MB, dated 7-5-2003)



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