It must have been during the Eighties,
The rains won’t stop pouring in Imphal,
Day after day flooding everywhere,
People gathered in dry houses for sleeping,
Days went by and there was no food to eat.
The water just won’t go down with continuous non stop rains,
Rafts were made with banana stem to commute,
It was a hard time for everyone,
The old priest who spoke less and observed more sent bags and bags of whole wheat seeing people going hungry,
Emptying his whole go down of food supplies.
There were lines, long lines in Kwakeithel,
People coming from many other nearby leikai (community),
Everyone in the line was given whole wheat until the last grain was over,
Without questioning their religion,
Giving us the extra gift to see humanity and spirit of giving,
Being a rice eater, whole wheat was new to us,
Mother made whole wheat pudding, piping hot and watery with a pinch of sugar and milk added with the remains after scrubbing the canister,
And that was the first and best taste of whole wheat on a very cold day,
Tasted with a dash of kindness, the gift from the old priest,
His deeds never forgotten even when he is no longer with us.
An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam. This post is dedicated to Late Father Mathew Planthottam, founder of St. Joseph School, Imphal.
Author’s Note: I wrote in 2013 dedicating to Late Father Mathew Planthottam, founder of St. Joseph School, Imphal, Manipur to remind myself and others of the humanity and love beyond ethnicity or religion. On that day, I was very saddened to read a generalizing thrashing comments against religious Institute from the very people who stood in the long lines to get the wheat distributed during such hard times of hunger and flood. At that time, it didn’t stop them from receiving the help, despite the difference in religion or ethnicity but conveniently forgotten the kindness and ganging up with such vicious generalization. I wrote a stanza reflecting the hypocrisy but deleted as I was not brave enough to voice that part.