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?


img_7268

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.


FindingTheVoices with three young Manipuri Business Management traveling to Europe for the first time sharing their travel experiences, hope and learnings. 

FindingTheVoices with three young Manipuri Business Management traveling to Europe for the first time sharing their travel experiences, hope and learnings.
Guest Speakers : Ransonkumar Khundrakpam, Khundrakpam Naoba Meitei and Langam Lukram.
Language: Interview in English.
Location: Guest Speakers at Germany

Ranson, Naoba and Langam are three teenagers who have come out of India for the very first time as part of a global business study tour in Europe as part of study organized by the college IILM Undergraduate Business School.
One of their pictures which showed Ranson posing infront of the Eiffel Tower wearing the traditional Manipuri attire ‘Khudei’ became eye catching and viral. The three energetic youngsters talk about their experience travelling around Europe, spending the night near the Eiffel Tower, enjoying the beautiful sceneries and overcoming language barriers with Google Translate. They described the scenery as serene and beautiful, but still felt that the scenery of their home state Manipur was no less than what they were seeing in the moment. They experience new things which they will never forget in their lives and also learn a few valuable lessons during their travel in Europe.
Towards the end, they get a little emotional talking about their parents and expressing what they have in their heart and mind.
The three youngsters also mentions about one of our guests from Season 2, Mr. Rabi Moirangthem. We are very happy to learn that they were inspired to pursue Business Management after hearing the words and experience from our guest speaker.

About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

FindingTheVoices with Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, Reality of the status of artists in Manipur.

FindingTheVoices with Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, Reality of the status of artists in Manipur. (Part 2)
Guest Speaker : Mr.Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculpture artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery in Manipur.
Language: Interview in Meiteilon/Manipuri.
Location: Three Mother’s Art Gallery, Imphal, Manipur, India
Catch up the first part of the interview at FindingTheVoices with Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculpture artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery in Manipur.

This is the second part of our interview with extremely talented artist Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma and we are joined by special guest and biggest supporter of our show, Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam.

All of Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma’s marvelous creations are housed inside a broken down hall that is used as a gallery/museum. One wonders what all of the amazing sculptures are doing in such a poorly constructed hall, with broken floors and cracked walls. How awesome the sculptures would look if all of them were encased inside glass boxes with royal cursive labels and put on display for the world to see. The surrounding definitely does no justice to the beauty and imagination captured by the artist in these sculptures made out of huge roots.

Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma had so much hope of establishing a decent gallery/museum to showcase his creations for the people, but the total lack of support and ignorance from the government officials left him frustrated. Mr. Shyamsunder shared his hope and dreams for a brighter future for his gallery and work.

In this episode, the artist talks about a beautiful sculpture that he presented to a Director General of Shillong. The sculpture portrays many famous personalities such as Paona Brajabashi, Maharaj Tikendrajit, signing of the merger agreement by Maharaj Budhachandra, a smiling Queen Elizabeth wearing her famous royal jewels, just to mention a few. He has also presented many other sculptures to other government bodies. The DG’s office in Shillong alone has around 30 sculptures and the IGAR’s office in South Mantripukhri has around 38 sculptures.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

FindingTheVoices with Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculpture artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery in Manipur.

FindingTheVoices with Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma, sculpture artist of Three Mothers Art Gallery in Manipur. (Part 1)
Guest Speaker : Mr.Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma.
Language: Interview in Meiteilon/Manipuri.
Location: Three Mother’s Art Gallery, Imphal, Manipur, India

We are at the Three Mothers Art Gallery at Thangapat Mapal, Imphal. The museum has an enormous collection of wood sculptures carved out of wood stems depicting various animals, from reptiles to ocean life. To add more meaning to the beauty, most of these sculptures tell a story, carved onto them by the very talented and hardworking artist, Mr. Gurumayum Shyamsunder Sharma. According to the artist, the three mothers as stated in the name symbolize the three mothers in a person’s life. The first is the woman who gave birth, the second is mother Earth and the third is the mother tongue of the person.

Mr. Shyamsunder started the art of wood carving at the age of 10. At first, he learnt making mud sculptures from his grandfather whilst assisting him. Later on, he applied his skills in making sculptures out of wood stems. The idea of making sculptures out of wood stems dawned upon him one night when he saw a shadow of the roots of a tree cast on a wall. He says that he gets more creative at night as a result. The beautiful stone sculptures of the Greeks and the Romans were an inspiration for him. The amount of details carved in the stones was astonishing to look at.

In this episode, the artist also talks about a few sculptures he created. One of them is a woman in chains with one of her hands cut off. The chains symbolize the state of Manipur under the British Rule and the cut off hand represents the loss of Kabaw Valley to Burma.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

FindingTheVoices with Dr. Ajit Lukram, coming back from UK to work for Manipur.

FindingTheVoices with Dr. Ajit Lukram sharing about breast cancer survivors in Manipur.(Part 1)
Guest Speaker : Dr. Ajit Lukram, Consultant Surgeon, Shija Breast and Thyroid Clinic, Shija Hospitals.
Language: Interview in English.
Location: Imphal, Manipur, India

It was such an empowering and proud moment to hear Dr. Ajit Lukram, Consultant Surgeon share about the successful story of breast cancer survivors in Manipur. Yes, Manipur has the facility, infrastructure, highly skilled qualified personnel to diagnose, screen and treat breast Cancer at Shija Hospitals. He spoke with such passion and dedication for his profession of saving lives from Breast Cancer. I learned so much about Breast Cancer.

Also, It’s really encouraging to see the power of passion and love for one’s birthplace, striving the best to save and improve the quality of life, elevating the progress of Manipur. It left me inspired that he came back from UK to work for Manipur. It’s even more inspiring that Shija Hospitals has the platform to provide and absorb such talents giving hope to many educated professionals in returning to Manipur.

Yet another strong voice to show that many are striving towards progress.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

FindingTheVoices with Laishram Meena Devi, artist from Manipur.

FindingTheVoices with Ms. Laishram Meena Devi, Expressions and Art. (Part 1)
Guest Speaker : Laishram Meena Devi, artist from Manipur.
Language: Interview in English.
Location: New Delhi, India

Life is a wonderful journey and the important thing is to always remember that there will be ups and downs, good times and bad times. Happiness and sadness go hand in hand together. One must never forget that no matter how hard life gets, it will always get better. However bad the phase is, we must remember that nothing lasts forever.

Our guest for this episode is Laishram Meena Devi, the youngest of four siblings, brought up in a multi-cultural society in Imphal. After her father’s untimely demise, Meena’s family fell into a financial crisis. They had lost their only bread earner. But fortunately, one of her brothers got a small job at Shopper’s Stop in New Delhi and was able to support the family. Meena was then sent to Delhi for her senior secondary schooling, and after completion of the course, she started working as a waitress at a coffee shop. She recalls the first day on the job, making coffee and serving everyone, standing all day long. She broke down crying later that night thinking about what had become of her life. But Meena had a hidden talent. She was a very talented painter since childhood. She knew she was good at it, but she had never thought of taking it up as a career. After about a year or so, she enrolled herself in the Bachelor of Fine Arts course at Jamia Hamdard College in New Delhi, but still worked part time at the coffee shop during the vacations to support her expenditures. She worked really hard and with strong confidence and determination, she secured the first position for the four year course. She then pursued for a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the Delhi College of Art.


Today, Laishram Meena Devi is a very successful artist who creates lovely paintings, mostly of adorable children, recreating her memories from childhood in her locality. Her love and fondness for a multi-cultural society living in peace and harmony is reflected in her work.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

S03E36 FindingTheVoices with Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam talking about the art of invitation using Banana leaves in Manipur. (Part 2)

FindingTheVoices with Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam talking about the art of invitation using Banana leaves in Manipur (Part 2)
Guest Speaker : Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam, Retired Lecturer, Thmabal Marik College, Oinam, Manipur .
Language: Interview in Meitei-lon/Manipuri
Location: Imphal, Manipur

Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam presented a paper on the use of banana leaves in 1987-88 during her M. Phil course as she felt that the traditional custom of using banana leaves were slowly fading in Manipur. Her paper was made possible with the help of a few learned scholars and practitioners of the art form and was very well received at Manipur University. In this second episode, Madam Saroj describes how banana leaves are used along with betel leaf, coconut, ginger and flowers as a form of invitation for traditional ceremonies in Manipur. The different arrangements of the invitations for different persons are show with the help of pictures in this episode. Just by looking at the form of arrangement, one would be able to tell whether the invitation was for the King, Queen or other members of the royal family. Different structural arrangements are also available for Arangbham, Brahmins and the common people.

Madam Saroj also talks about the form of society during the reign of monarchs. She says that the justice system in those days was very different from the one that we have today, which is very slow in delivering judgments. She feels that there has been a rise in crime in the present society because of the slow pace of the justice system.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

S03E35 FindingTheVoices with Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam talking about the art form of Banana leaves in Manipur. (Part 1)

FindingTheVoices with Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam talking about the art form of Banana leaves in Manipur (Part 1)
Guest Speaker : Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam, Retired Lecturer, Thmabal Marik College, Oinam, Manipur .
Language: Interview in Meitei-lon/Manipuri
Location: Imphal, Manipur

Banana leaves are used in a number of occasions in various regions of India. In Manipur, these leaves are used during religious rituals as well as a form of invitation for certain traditional customs. This episode is dedicated to the significance of banana leaves in Manipur, a documentation of the art form that has been practiced since the time of Kings and Queens. Madam Saroj Nalini Ingudam presents very thorough information on this practice with the help of her M. Phil paper from 1987-88. Banana leaves are used in every major ritual in a person’s life; starting from birth ceremonies (Swasti Puja, Yupan Thaba), “Na Hutpa”, marriage ceremonies, and also during funeral rituals. There have been a few changes in the way the leaves are used during rituals, for example, the “Tang Yatpa” came into practice only after the arrival of Hindu religion in Manipur. However, the same old practices are still followed without any change in traditional Meitei festivals like “Lai Haraoba”.

Madam Saroj also talks about the different variety of banana leaves and their purposes; Leihou La, Leiyai La, Changbi La, Noney La to mention a few. The most commonly used is the Noney La, which is suitable for use in feasts because of its odorless quality. Madam Saroj also describes a little about how these leaves were so commonly used as invitations before the printed version of invitations came out. A description of how banana leaves are used as invitation for Shri Govindaji is shown towards the end of this episode.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

S03E34 FindingTheVoices with Mr. Phungzathang Tonsing, Health Minister of Manipur.

FindingTheVoices with Mr. Phungzathang Tonsing, Health Minister of Manipur.
Guest Speaker : Mr. Phungzathang Tonsing, Health Minister of Manipur.
Language: Interview in English
Location: Imphal, Manipur

Our guest for today’s episode is Mr. Phungzathang Tonsing, Health Minister of Manipur. He was born in Bungpilon village in Churachandpur district, Manipur in 1937. He shares with us about how he grew up in the village and how he was taught valuable life lessons by his parents to become a hardworking and responsible person. He passed his matriculate exam from Churachandpur Government High School in 1960. He then served as a teacher at Bungpilon Government Junior High School from 1961 till 1971.
After retiring as a teacher from the school, he joined politics and contested in the District Council elections for Thanlon constituency, where was elected unopposed in 1972. Mr. Tonsing worked as a district council member upto 1976 and later on became chairman in 1977. Later on, he contested in the Assembly elections and won three times in a row from 1980 to 1990. He was however defeated in the elections of 1995 and 2000, but again got elected in 2002, where he became a minister.
We ask Mr. Phungzathang Tonsing why he became a politician and what changes he has brought about for the people. Manipur has become a place where there are frequent bandhs, blockades and strikes and this situation has made the state unable to function like any other state in the country. In this
context, Mr. Tonsing says that citizens should take up their issues with
the Government in a democratic manner. He says that even if bandhs or blockades are called, there should be a limitation; they should not be called indefinitely. We also talk about the advantages of social media and the lack of transparency from the side of the Government to the public in Manipur.

About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/