Missing my father’s funeral

My father’s passing marked the beginning of a new dimension of life. Since he was ailing with Dementia for a long time, and was no longer able to sit up for long, I felt his time was coming. I returned to US from Manipur with a heavy heart wondering if it would be the last time I saw him, as he blessed me, putting his right hand on my head. He was laying in the daybed, in the living room. I held his hands with both my hands tightly before I left. That was the last time I saw my father.

After some months, I was woken up in the early morning with my brother’s shaking voice at the other end of the phone line, sharing that our father has passed away. It was agreed and decided, that they will proceed with the fire cremation funeral ritual that day itself as per the local norms and traditions in Manipur. Then, I had agreed too, but in coming times I questioned myself on “Why such a hurry?” during the sleepless nights where I couldn’t quite get closure to my father’s passing, as I didn’t see him go. The question of “Where did he go?” kept floating on for a long time.

My mother and brothers were busy with the preparation of my father’s rituals and couldn’t come on the phone. And I was feeling so helpless knowing that Baba was soon going to be cremated and I wasn’t there. I made my offering of light and burning incense stick, and hastily called my cousin brother. I requested  him to keep the phone line open, so that I can hear what is going on in the background. I sat quietly and heard the instruments and songs played as part of the rituals.

Suddenly out of nowhere, I remembered the vicious raw words from an unknown person who commented that I will not make it for my Father’s funeral in retaliation for writing the Poem “Students in Manipur”.

I was deeply pained and saddened and had written “A Funeral for my living Father” then.

A Funeral for my living Father

You mock about my ailing father,

Who is old and frail,

Who is battling with his memory,

Taking time to recall my name,

And yet greeting me with such profound expressions giving me the peace that feelings cannot be snatched even by Dementia,

Living his second childhood with his days numbered.

You curse about my living father,

Mocking about his funeral when he is alive,

Judging that I won’t make it for the funeral,

A funeral which you pitied the Leikai (community) will perform without me,

Such vicious words,

Such hateful words from someone I don’t even know.

You, hiding behind a fake name,

You have won in wounding me,

It’s true, I sleep every night with the biggest fear that I will miss his last moments,

It’s true, that I have failed to be with him at his hours of need,

It’s true, I have played out in my mind of every tiny details of how soon I can reach,

To be on time to hold his hands.

And I wish you would never have to feel the pain and helplessness of the separation and distance,

And remain blessed to be serving your Father living under the same roof,

Blessed to know for sure that you will light your Father’s funeral,

Blessed to know that you will be there holding your father’s hand as he crosses to the other world,

Blessed to be sleeping peacefully throwing words of mockery to the failed ones,

The failed ones like me.

  As the cremation is going on in Manipur and I was sitting in US, I tried to concentrate and be present with the faint sound of the rituals coming from the phone, I tried to think of Baba, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t, the words, the unknown person’s vicious raw words kept coming again and again and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I couldn’t stop my tears and I started falling into those words, that narrative, making me feel that my writing has brought upon the situation of me missing Baba’s funeral.

And I couldn’t quite write the way I did for a long time. But now it’s time, time to write, write on what matters to the heart and soul. I am ready to celebrate Baba’s life, carry him within me, spread the love and strength he has instilled in me.

Now you know how raw vicious words can bruise one’s soul, will you think twice before you hurl it?


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About Monica Ingudam

Born in Manipur (India), based in Maryland (USA) patent holder for identifying Caller ID, with Computer Science Engineering background, you will find Monica Ingudam crunching numbers and data as an Analyst. During the weekends you will find her hosting FindingTheVoices talk-show featuring authors, artists and people who inspire, empower, educate and entertain with the vision to connect and spread positivity. You will find her reading, writing and painting in her quiet time.


Mourning for Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculptor artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery of Manipur.

Mourning for Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculptor artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery of Manipur.

As we are nearing the completion of five years of FindingTheVoices, I was reflecting on moments that made FindingTheVoices real, moments that gave meaning to my quest and vision to continue FindingTheVoices.

Yesterday I shared a picture in Facebook sharing a moment “It broke my heart to see the crumpling condition of Three Mothers Art Gallery in Imphal, Manipur.”

#5years #FindingTheVoices #Manipur #29Sept2012 #LookingBack #Moments It broke my heart to see the crumpling condition of Three Mothers Art Gallery in Imphal, Manipur.

Then I shared another picture of another moment “I was truly touched and felt connected by the way Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculpture artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery calling me “Sana” instead of my name. Sana, literal meaning is gold but it’s a way of addressing someone with love in Manipur. And I had forgotten this beautiful way of addressing.” I remember my mother fondly sharing about her childhood “Oh, when I grew up, I was Ebemma at home.”

Staying away from Manipur for 25 years now, I have missed experiencing many of the beautiful ways of life in Manipur. The journey of FindingTheVoices have been very fruitful and enriching to me as a person, striking a deep chord in taking pride of my origin and roots.

#5years #FindingTheVoices #Manipur #29Sept2012 #LookingBack #Moments I was truly touched and felt connected by the way Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculpture artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery calling me “Sana” instead of my name. Sana, literal meaning is gold but it’s a way of calling someone with love in Manipur. And I had forgotten this beautiful way of addressing.

Sir Laba Yambem commented on the post sharing the news about the passing of the main artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery.

I got confirmation of the sad, very sad news that Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma passed away on August 12, 2017. He was born on September 24, 1955. The news filled me with such grief, regret and anger. His passing is a big loss to Manipur, a big loss to the community of sculptor artists of the world.

It is my deepest regret that we have failed him in recognizing his talent and giving him the support to nurture his inborn gifted talent. It gave me goosebumps when he shared about seeing the vision of what to carve when he sees the raw roots at nights and hence he worked mostly at nights. He didn’t have a blue print for any of his sculptors, it was all in his mind which he carved.

I saw a true artist seeing the blessing of such talents in Manipur. His sculptors conveyed the deepest meaning in art form with important relevance to the history and people of Manipur. But it broke my heart to see the crumbling gallery, the beautiful artwork smudged with dust from the fallen ceiling. It made me think of the art gallery in other places where artwork are kept with such value, boxed within glasses, guards closely monitoring the many lined up visitors from touching the artwork.

His vision of what he wanted to carve is truly inspirational but we have failed him to provide a platform and nurture his talent.

If you haven’t heard about Three Mothers Art Gallery, that is the first failure point. Why haven’t you heard about it ? Why don’t you know about the artist? Where are the visitors lining up to see his artwork? Why is his artwork not promoted? Where are the promotions? Why is his gallery crumpled? Shouldn’t his artwork display be one of the main display for tourist spot in Manipur?

Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma (September 24, 1955- August 12, 2017) gifted sculptor artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery, Manipur passed away. He was just 61 years old. He had dreams, many unfulfilled dreams. I have failed him. The people have failed him. Manipur has failed him. India has failed him.

I implore you to visit Three Mothers Art Gallery, Wangkhei, Thangapat Mapal Palace Compound, Imphal East, Manipur and seek your help and support for elevating Three Mothers Art Gallery in Imphal.

 


Monica Ingudam, founder of FindingTheVoices, A weekly talk show with the vision to promote positivity in the conflicted land of Manipur. Monica Ingudam is based in Maryland, Unites States and is originally from Manipur, the Indian state.


 

Who says there is no hope for Manipur?

Who says there is no hope for Manipur?

I started the New year with such strong hope, the much needed hope for Manipur after hearing the voices of the people of Manipur as I watched Impact TV’s Mega Manung Hutna show on the idea of Manipur and bridging the gap.

Firstly I want to thank and appreciate the team of Impact TV Manipur in getting such eloquent Panelists. This is one of the best initiative of discussion which included different ethnic groups creating a platform for everyone to express their views in a very civil way with words. Such discussions including all the groups are much needed to understand the views and issues of Manipur. The choice of Panelists to include representations from different segment of Manipur considering ethnicity, backgrounds and Institutions is very much appreciated. The questioning, presentation and moderation was very well executed. This will go a long way to peace and progress for Manipur. Thanks to Impact TV for stepping up and taking ownership to fill in this big gap to bring the people of Manipur together.

Secondly a big thanks to each and everyone amongst the Panelists for sharing historical events, experiences, your thoughts and views. I could feel the voices coming from the heart giving goose bump at times. I could feel the sadness of the idea of disintegration of Manipur in each voice spoken. They spoke with such love for Manipur, for peace and reconciliation leaving me inspired, empowered and enriched with their sharings.

Love the reinforcing story shared of how Muslims got assimiliated into the Manipuri society and the then King’s approach to protect and respect, giving the religious and cultural freedom to the Manipuri Muslim community. It was interesting to learn about the Royal feast and value sharing platform between the valley and hill people of Manipur much earlier keeping the peace and love amongst the people. The personal experiences shared by the Panelist members of the Valley and hill people coming together were touching. These experiences may be small but it goes a long way to connecting us.

Also the lack of good governance, corruption, the feeling of alienation of tribals in Manipur, misunderstanding of the word Manipuri(language or the people) and lots more were covered. You have to watch the discussion and be informed.

Sir Amu Kamei remains my star of the discussion. His response is awesome, love the way he spoke and expressed, straight and direct. I would love to meet him someday.

I invite all of you to listen to the full discussion of Impact TV’s Mega Manung Hutna. For those who can’t understand Manipuri and is asking for subtitle, you should ask the Indian National TV Channels to feature such discussions bringing up the voices of the people of Manipur, and the North East at the National level.

When we have such strong voices with such good intent and thoughts for unity, peace and progress of Manipur, Who says there is no hope for Manipur?

Now everyone of us have a responsibility and ownership to contribute in the idea of Manipur. There are many takeaways from this discussion which needs to be addressed. Ask yourself how are you going to contribute? Let’s focus on your individual contribution.

Happy New Year 2017. To love, peace and progress for Manipur.

 


MI_S03_withlogoMonica Ingudam, founder of FindingTheVoices, a talk show presenting voices from different parts of the globe with the vision to promote and spread Inspiring, Educative, Empowering and Entertaining stories in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur.