TODAY -

Editorial of the week

FEAR OF DARKNESS

Imphal city lacks something that is a part of all cities around the world - Night life. We lament this not so much because we crave working at night, (those of us in the press already do that), but because it is such a pity that so much productive working hours are wasted each day without end. It will be interesting to do a study of what the waste in real terms amounts to. There are times in the year the city's night life suddenly spring to life, but ironically for desperate reasons. During the dry seasons, when the taps in most parts of Imphal drip dry, residents come out in hordes after dinner, with buckets and whatever other water containers in the house to collect water from the major water bodies in the city. The Kangla Moat is one of these. Those who by the compulsions of their work stay up at night, like pressmen for instance would have noticed that along the roads where these residents stream out, the shops and tea-stalls remain open till well into the night. The point is, if night life were allowed to happen, the productive work hour period would also extend reciprocally. This will be particularly true of commercial activities. And of course, night life has its own charm. It is for no reason that the advertisement catch-line for New York is a line from Frank Sinartra's song that describes it as a city that does not sleep.

A decade or two ago, Imphal did have some night life. The movies for instance had a late night show that ended well after midnight. Shops and other business establishments also opened much later than they do now. But that culture died with the outbreak of insurgency in the early 80s and the regime of unending night curfews. Another nail on its coffin invariably was the other equally horrendous regime of load shedding and power cuts. Only fungus can have life in total darkness. Today, at dusk, shop shutters come down, and the busiest bazars in Imphal turns into ghost towns. Everybody everywhere is also expected back home by sunset, and generally by the time the prime time news bulletin is telecast on the Doordarshan, all in Imphal are fast asleep. It is a proposition not at all attractive, but one that strikes as strange to most tourists not familiar with the place.

While the night curfew days are over, the hangover of insecurity that it brought along remains amongst the public. Nobody feels safe after dark, thanks to insurgency as well as counter insurgency activities. We wish some normalcy returns soon and the state with freedom gets back to using its most creative hours, in the day or in the night, most meaningfully. Over and above these reasons, it would also make journalists appear less like the strange nocturnal animals who begin work when others return from theirs. Strange, lowly paid creatures with little leisure or energy for the small pleasures that invigorate normal humans. People with strange obsessions and career drives, who sleep when others are active and who work when others are socializing. People with lifestyles totally out of sync with life-styles of school and college friends in other professions and in fact the rest of society. And for all these thankless circumstances, also suffer insults, manhandling, injuries and even death. We also wish there were more who love and even worship their profession as much.

Courtesy: The Imphal Free Press

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