Thursday, November 18, 2010

To My Love

The moment you dethrone
That goddess in your heart
And replace it with me
Allow me to know
Let me taste it with a vengeance

The day when you wish to say
‘Let’s go home’
I am standing by
Ready to leave everything aside
To set forth hand in hand

When you want to let loose yourself
And swim in my wave
When you want to drown yourself
In the depth of me
Drunk with me
You just have to tell me

But never ask me where I go
In the midst of the dark night
Never ask me what I metamorphosed into
In the full moon light
Never ask me why
I vanish in those sullen evening
Never ask me to lock my doors
You never know when my wings burst forth
Never ask me to bind my hair
For my comrades trace me through its scent
My beloved!
Never ask me my revelation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nomads and their Caravans

Halt the advancing dreamlets
They only show the earthly
Hold the flapping winglets
They only tempt freedom
Hold the flooding starlets
They only drown souls
Halt the ticking timelets
The past is already brimming

Halt that story teller
That narrates my legend
Declining to be the heroin
I decide to join the caravans
Of nomads of this tribe of woman

Tonight as I decide to marry
I prepare my trousseau
These dreams; these wings
These stars; these ticking times

See my groom on the horizon
He who nonchalantly walks towards me
I have not seen him ever before
But I do know his gait,
I do know his hair ruffled by the fingers of wind
I do know his scent
Like drifting from fresh bamboo grooves
I do know he is the one who should be coming
Long lost; long foretold to be found
The long time ticks away
Sand’s last grain slips through my fist
Right here; right now
I am a bride all over again

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Broken Twig

Goddess of winter is at last awake
There are arrivals of departures
Of seasons and peoples
Bees of hours suck honey
From the flowers of my chronicle
Of love of an eternal whore
Every season brings a relic
From some far-away corner
Where the twilight scatters his shadow
Tentacles of nameless desires
Slither within me
Like swimming in the flood of wind
Like walking with no end
In the trimmed fields of ripe paddy
Like laying at the foothill
Caressing the green fur of the mammoth mountain
Like knitting a yarn from the cotton cloud...
Of all ...
Golden evening sky with the lonesome star
Broke the branches of my heart
My tears are none but
The dew at the tip of a broken twig

Friday, September 3, 2010

Open Door

When you wake up from my arms
When the glow worms beckons you
When you wish to read
The golden poems written by dusk on the horizon
                                        The door is painfully open

When the orchids have woven their garlands
When the thunder wakes you up
When you wish you disentangle
Your fingers from my hair
                                        The door is painfully open

When the echoes from highlands come to blow
With the growl of the valley
When you wish to take up your weapon                 
Of warhead with rose
When you wish to whisper the last word
                                         The door is painfully open

When you want to become the son of this earth
When the throne await you to be crowned
When you wish to dethrone
The maiden of this soil
                                        The door is painfully open

When the “chengi”of tresses of other woman lures you
When the songs of my valley no more pleases you
When you wish to shrug off from my aroma
From the cage of my love
                                     The door is painfully open

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Beneath the Chattra

In one such twilight of May
When prophesy from laibung
Hums like bees in air
Fading sun languorous around your face
I wiped the sweat on your brow
Under those branches
Beside the running stream
We cast net and caught dreams  
Now it’s time to set them free
Once more
Into the ever running flow
Of river of dreams drown and lost
Once more
You came to measure the cost of my smile
When it soars into the sky
Like a kite with an endless twine
In the rain of this valley
You came and sat with me
You are gone so as the rain
Yet once more I am wet
You came
Like every day you come
Just to say “chatlage”
I tucked leihao on my ear
Once more I watch you
Recede through the laibung
You took from me
A fiber of my phanek
A wisp of my hair
A mark of my teeth on your fingers
And I sat under the Chattra
Gazing into loneliness
That flash of our departure
I become your mother and your woman 
Once more

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dance in the Time of War

In this Laibung, the ground where the lai haraoba is performed,  the smell of leihao, a kind of flower that is pale yellow in color with very sweet scent which Meitei women usually tie it in a strand of loose hair or tucked in buns pervades. This is the laibung of Ema Chaning Lairembi, the local diety of my locality Phoijing as a whole which consists of Nambol Awang Leikai, Phoijing Makha, Phoijing Chingning and Tera Makhong.
It was in the twilight of a fine mid month of May the offering of Jagoi khutthek to the local lairembi began. I a daughter of this land was there to offer the goddess my humble and sincere obeisance.
Women with Mapannaiba Phanek and the Namthang Phee with its borders of multivariate colors and 
design flooded the laibung. The Namthang Phee nowadays in a corrupted form is also known by many as Lamthang. It is a special chaddar or phee worn on the occasion of Lai Haraoba. It is white color with borders of variety of color and dotted floral works on the main body of the chador. The border used to be mainly of orange or dark yellow in color but with the change in fashion the variety of color has multiplied and become more vibrant. Nowadays a silk chador called Rani phee is also used with the trend changed. The colors ranged from violet to red, the spectrum of sunlight (VIBGYOR).  Some were with bright turquoise, some with dark orange, some with bright ocean blue and others with violet-purple.

Although in flashes I could see the color of blood and the color of bullet among those many colors of the borders of Namthang, I saw the long perished faces among them as if they too came from wherever they are to participate in the Lai Haraoba. But they were done away as momentary delusion. When I saw the phanek mapannaiba I saw in every alternate parallel lines of black and pale pink the story of our lives….the alternate nature of happiness and sorrow. The twilight followed by a dawn and the despair followed by a hope. Yet in our society this rhythmic alteration of life has become either so frequent or sometimes so slow that at times some of us waiting for dusk our lives dawned without our own realization. 

The Marei pareng, a kind of necklace worn by Meitei women in the time of celebration supposedly made of gold, adorn their necks.  The bright off-white chandon, a design made on the forehead with a special kind of paste made of clay call chandon, was brightly visible. Nachom( a bunch made of different flower) tucked in the ears or at times in the hair-bun of married women or just made to swing with the overflowing tresses of the leishabies ( unmarried women) are beautiful sight. Leigi nachom usually consists of takhellei, chini champrana and rose. Aadhunik eshei (modern Manipuri song) ‘takhelei nachom na samjida, chini champrana napada’ reflects that idea of nachom.  

Where else should I go to find this sight? It’s not about the magnificence, not about the grandeur not about the extravaganza, it simply about how much it can turn your heart on when you are there after so many years and when you have actually forgotten the taste of your native land when you actually have only memories left and nothing else to share. What else could be more beautiful what else could be lovelier than our women and our people? 

Before the beginning of the jagoi I knelt in front of ema Lairembi to pray. When I closed my eyes it came to me what should I pray for. I realized there are many things I could pray for. Should I pray for good health, for a good groom or a good job? I tried but I could not and I do not know why. I prayed for only one thing… for life… for life to go on… that was the only thing I could ask for at that moment.

The jagoi began with the music and the songs of amaiba and amaibi. The song goes thus:

Mamang Leikai Thambal shaatle
Khoimuna Elle Khoiraba

Shabi Lao lao maangda tharo lao
Kallakpa yammi kanjaoba yammi
Mangda tharo lao

Lanshonbi lamyaida mono ware pothapham
Eepamgi lamdam yenglubadi nungshiba maigeibu taamhoure

Shabi ene macha pammubi
Chingnungi sana loktudagi paibirakloda…

Chekla paikhrabada pombi hanjillakpada
Cheklagi kaidongpham khangdabana
Pombi kangaonare….

Haraore haraore
Sibuthoina haraoba subidathoina nungaiba leibara

Jagoi khutthek katpa means offering the movements dance to the diety. In the lai haraoba dance is not just for fun, pleasure or show but its purpose is to offer the very act of dancing to the diety consequently becomes a part of the ritual.  Jagoigi khuthek khudingda, with the every movement of the dance I could see only the tranquility, the fulfillment, the joy and the love of our life. The lengthy chapter of life the stories of maladies, the sense of widowhood, the sense of losing sons and daughters in AIDS, sense of waiting for someone who will never return and some who will return to an empty chengphu ( a big pot where rice is stored after husking off. It is an inevitable part of every kitchen in Meitei community) that very night eclipsed for a moment.
It was the aura of a sheer fulfillment. That was the moment of amazement at our eternal capacity to be happy to be joyful at the face of all adversities. That night we all became just living beings who have for a moment left behind all the essences this world has thrusted upon us.
I could see young mothers with all their gracious jagoi khuthek and their young children watching them. Whenever their respective mothers pass by in front of them with the forward progression of the dance they try to reach out to their mothers and scream  ‘mama mama!’ crying trying to go to them. I thought if my own child was among the crowd at that moment she would have reached out to me in the same manner. What can be lovelier than this? It was simply beautiful. I smiled and kept on with my Jagoi khuthek following the progression of dance led by the Amaibies. That was a celebration with dreams in each pair of eyes as much as in mine. It was a dance of a new beginning as much as of an archaic end.

May Chaning Lairembi bless us!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

In the Kingdom of my Dreams

Oh miserable March,
Why spring everywhere
But not in my heart?
Why is that the death always stands in front of me
In March
How could have I not loved him
How could not I?
It was a tieless knot
An unnamed kingdom
My love belonged
There will never be a last line for him
Never a last sigh
Always and always
In the kingdom of my dreams
He is mine
In its rugged landscape
He walks free…
Free at least in my dreams

March in Love

March in love with mango flowers
Rain like lances of knights of yore
Night perfumed with the drenched earth
In hours like this one walked in the road to love
The eternal road
Always drummed by thunder
Flashed by lightning
One who walks always dripping wet with rain?
With the hopping toad in the lawn
One celebrates the loss in rain
How could one lament over it?
How could one?
Is our love like the hail that fell and melted?
In a meandering gush
Found in this red earth
Groping in lumps
I smear you on my face, bosom and limbs
Night long…
Rain washes
I smear…

Rain washes
I smear
I waited to break fast
With him in the morsel of red earth

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cold Night

Have you ever been burnt by a moonlit night?
Have you ever tasted the bitterest of honey?
Have you ever drunk nectar and felt poisoned?
Come here in the homes among the bamboo groves
Come, feel my palm and see how cold the night is.
Have you ever seen beside every bed a pot of poison?
Have you ever seen hanging on every branch?
Ropes of the executioner
Come here in the streets of henjunaha
Come, feel my skin and see how haunting the night is.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I am home and they are still here
These streets still scarred
These hills still in reverie
Which one is more sore?
The broken strings of your guitar
Or the broken notes of their Pena

This is hour for wounds and maiming
There will be a time for mending and healing
There will be hours for mantra and magic
Of course I wait for the Maibi
Who feels the meagre pulse on my wrist
And tells the fortune of this land
She tells over my body
The fever of this land
My pulse, the broken throb of our antique drum
My bosom, the angst of a missed progeny
M y forehead, the warmth of the fresh pyre

The malady of this land is mine

This home gave us everything
A corner to live and die
A corner to croon and sigh
Though it could never give a tiny corner
To rest at long last
Broken bones of our hearts

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fading landscape

Something fades on this dying landscape
Is it a glow worm or bonfire?
Perhaps a soul or just the tip of a cigar
Each night someone burns to live
Each day someone always departs

Once more a day has come
Not Monday or Tuesday just a day
Unadorned: unaware
Leaving queries unanswered
Once more gone is the day
Like the half un-drunk glass of red tea on a tray

My soul was the sole witness
Of their incarnation into wild
No norms: No canon
Just the measureless chase of prey
Just the swaying leonine mane
Just the lick of nature on our face
And we the worm from eagle’s beak to chick’s mouth
Though the owl of Minerva no longer flies over this land
White dove turns red
This land harbour no regret
Wildly ever..
I chose to be here forever...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Emagi Enpham (My mother’s site of casting fish net)

Today evening at around six thirty I felt a surge of desire in me to go to my mom’s place of casting fish net where she was already gone for more than two hours this evening. I took a torch and walked out of my room without telling my father. It was a dark September evening and I was dropped there by a leikai (local) aunt. As I walked through the meadow lifting my phanek a bit I felt the grasses flirting on my thighs. A big frog jumped away from my way into the pond left of the lane in a splash. The unknown humming insects welcome me. I called my mom from a distance. She never expected her daughter who was out of the village for eight years would turn up there in the dark evening. She was happily surprised.

The mosquitoes were in a swamp. I asked my mom how she managed to hold on with the mosquitoes. She says they do not bite her. On the bank of the small canal, a small rug sack was laid and on it my mom’s arms lay so serenely… a small torch with indigo and yellow color, a small plastic bucket in which once paints were once filled, a Manipuri novel, a shawl and a few small towels. I asked my mom if there are no snakes around. She told me she knew a mantra to shoo away snakes. That was the first time I came to know that my mom too knows mantra (as all women knows secretly some mantra or the other).

I sat down beside my mom. Just beyond the canal, the expanse of a vast green field stretched and bounded by the Tiddim road and further beyond the green-black mountains silhouette against the starry sky. In the dense bushes strange noises of the night rise and fall. After how many years I was savouring the sight of glowworms glittering here and there. Few yards away in the graveyard I felt our ancestors snoring in death such peaceful sleep perhaps we envy at times. Death in that way is really beautiful.

I knew somewhere ten thousand Kilometers away in that City which made me, it must be growling, howling, whispering, beckoning, teasing and sweating from its daily wrestling. I far away from that still feel the odour of that city…I just have to close my eyes and smell deep. Scents also carry memories. Songs also carry memories. From Nambol to Imphal and in other routes of Manipur the scent prevails …familiar ones. The Nga Yonbi scent (the scent of smoked fish seller) is everywhere. Sometimes the scent of Soijin and Soibum (fermented bamboo soot) also erupts from hither and thither. From somewhere in the corner of the street the scent of fried ngari (fermented fish) erupts in rupture. This scent is an acquired scent. It would be offensive to an alien nose, I am sure our Meitei nose is perfectly evolved to trace and feel at home with this scent. This is the scent of Manipur. Thousands of Kilometer we have gone and thousand more we will go away again and again perhaps never to come back. Yet we carry with us the memories and the pang associated with these scents and songs. Once in our lifetimes we long to come back here at our home, long to recall the lost memories, the fading vision and the various graves that had grown in our absence like my grandmother’s.

In the name of god, God is killed. In the name of love, Hatred is wished for; in the name of holiness the most profane is sought. In our name they have forsaken us. This is the predicament of our lives.. this place is no exception in harbouring these eternal predicament. We are people of this world no different from others. We throb with a part of this universal predicament
But I See the Nongjabi in the west as the sun set so lazily and I felt perhaps we live for this moment. I saw the nervous stars and get myself excited for life. And I realize I live for that. And tonight my heart dancing with the glowworms felt the joy of living. And it is beautiful to be just alive without much questioning without much retrospection. Yet the beauty of this innocence is so evanescent that I did not know I felt it too.

Meanwhile my mom is getting more and more irritated with me as I keep on flashing the blue torch into the net piercing through the murky water and shooing away the tiny fish.
She is like ‘Ebemma, What are you up to? You are chasing away all the fish… go back home.’ And I was just enjoying irritating her and irritating tiny fish out there. The un- courteous mosquitoes have penetrated my phanek and bit me through my skin in spite of my waving and shooing. And I was sure I have drunk the water of seven seas and become polluted and now my mantra I remember no more to shoo away any wild from invading me. I lost my atavistic mantra at the cost of gaining another mantra of another paradigm. And the cost is too high to tell you.

And now I must go else my mom will chase me away. I came back in the dark lane with shrubs and canals on both sides. I knew I could never be back from what I felt and lost those days in the city that made me and killed me at the same time..this is a timeless predicament.

Written on 25th September 2009

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Monstrous Absence

The city in his monstrous absence
Hallowed with winter rays
His scent in some abandoned corner
Ran like a kitten into the chambers
Of my lungs as
I inhale deep

The city in his monstrous absence
Lulled to a dreamy spell
As fog hung heavy on its lids
Each winding road
Trails the edge of his endless shadow
And I trip on that edge
Every step I take

The city in his monstrous absence
With all its saintliness stood so ascetic
Made me holy once more as
I was washed this winter
With the dew that erupts
From the spots where the tears dry