094 It’s all in the mind : The Doctor’s waiting room

The Doctor’s waiting room

It was a new place,
It was raining heavily,
With the winds blowing crazily,
We took shelter in front of the steps of a big church at Worli,
Filled with unfamiliar faces,
Drenched and shivering,
You couldn’t breathe,
Your wheezing increased,
And we tried to shield you with the umbrella,
As you inhaled your puffs from the inhaler,
The umbrella curling upward with the strong winds,
Then we shielded you with our body,
I was scared and cold,
But my sister stood strong and collected,
The rains stopped and we headed back to the Guest room.

You stayed indoors feeling unwell,
Time was running short,
With lots to be done,
My sister bought my bucket and the mug,
She shopped and got all the little things I might need staying in a hostel,
I could see your temper flaring with the helplessness in being unwell,
With too many unknowns,
My sister was at the receiving end of your temper,
Picking up heavy responsibilities.

She was just a teenager herself,
She was new to the place too,
But she didn’t loose her cool even once,
She made me ride the local bus,
From Worli to Peddar Road in Bombay,
Then back from Peddar Road to Worli,
Coaching me the landmarks of Haji Ali, the circle and Jaslok Hospital,
Teaching me the exact spot where I should get down for my college,
We rode back and forth many times,
Until she was confident that I could go on my own.

Then we went to a doctor’s place,
In a big building,
And a posh clean office,
We wrote your name in their registration sheet,
We saw the sign of consultancy fee as we waited,
A nominal fee but huge for us,
And you said it isn’t like you are sick sick,
You are already feeling better and we don’t have much time,
And we walked off the Doctor’s waiting room,
We all knew why you wanted to leave,
I didn’t see many patients in front of us,
We could have waited,
But we didn’t.

You left me in the midst of unknows,
With the strength that I have to study, no matter what,
Bidding your goodbye from the chugging train,
With very few words but a look that said more,
Crossing the mountains in the swaying bus,
Taking you back home,
And I started my journey to make myself.

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

093 It’s all in the mind : Mending the heart

Mending the heart

Words spoken,
Hurtful words which couldn’t be taken back,
Tears shed,
Tears which couldn’t be dried,
Broken hearts,
Hearts which couldn’t be mended.

Unmet expectations,
Followed by awkward silence,
Slowly seeping into accepting the silence,
Appreciating the unspoken words,
Which brought the peace,
But also the distance.

The squabble stopped,
The connection severed,
The politesse maintained,
But that didn’t stop the love,
But that didn’t stop the sunrise,
It’s nature’s way.

And you know not how to mend,
Mend the broken heart,
Forget the hurtful words,
Bridge the connection,
Dry the tears,
And it’s only time, that will mend the heart.

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

092 It’s all in the mind : The Failure

The Failure

I never thought the distance would come between us,
The technologies of modern communications have failed us,
I have failed,
Failed to be there for you when you need me the most.

It was you who showed me the first sight of the sea,
Where I stood mesmerized,
By the sound of the waves,
You taught me to travel and explore.

It was you who dropped me on my first day of college,
Where I stood inspired,
By the power of the institution,
You taught me that education will give me the wings, wings to fly anywhere I want to.

You have your temper,
And I my stubbornness,
And we have walked through many differences with tears and silence,
And yet you stood by me, making me make my choices.

And today, you are old and frail,
Memory teasing you ruthlessly,
And I should be there, right next to you,
But I have failed you, Baba.

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

091 It’s all in the mind : A place for the dead

A place for the dead
The familiar faces I knew,
Left one by one,
Some old,
Some young,
Wrapped and covered in whites,
Boxed in coffin with unpolished raw wood,
Engulfed in the flames,
Forbidden to stay back till the end,
As the men stayed back,
I asked if I can’t stay back because I am a woman,
Or because it’s not allowed by the rituals followed,
A question I never got a response.

I walked passed the Mongpham (cemetery),
One sunny morning,
A sight which I never forgot,
The fires were gone,
And I saw the son trying to gather the remains of his mother,
I spotted the unburned remains,
Remains of flesh and blood stuck on a bone,
Which the son covered beneath the soil,
Soil he dug from the side of the cemetery,
I walked past without stopping,
Thinking all the way,
About what I saw all so clearly,
Thoughts heavy for a child’s mind,
Maybe it was part of her leg,
Maybe she kicked books when she was alive,
Or maybe she kicked people,
It was etched in my head being told by many,
That your feet won’t burn,
If you kicked books or people,
I passed the cemetery once again on the way back,
And I saw a neatly shaped grave covered with wet dark mud from the pond,
And beneath the cemetery lies the remains of many,
Many who once were close to someone’s heart.

I heard murmurs of leaving a mark,
With the black mud of the pond,
To the body of the dead,
In the hope to check,
The return of the soul within the family,
A beleif of reincarnation,
People whispered on possible spots to leave the mark,
Advising to avoid the face area,
Reminding of a case,
Where a baby was born with half the face darkened,
Even showing the imprints of a hand,
Concluding the dead must have been hated,
For someone to leave such a mark,
As though the mud were splashed with a big giant hand,
Right on one side of the face.

I grew and the community grew faster,
And with the growth,
There were less land and more people,
Brothers fought,
Chopping their ancestral properties into pieces,
New constructions cropped up,
With tiny houses,
The latrine of the older brother right in front of the younger brother’s house,
As is the norms of land division,
With the eldest brother getting the land in the front,
Leaving the Ningol (married women sibling) a sense of homelessness,
As her home, the home she grew broke into pieces,
Both in land and in the heart,
People reasoned she never belonged there,
So why the sense of homelessness?
She was after all a Ningol,
Married and merged in her husband’s home.

Many sold their land and moved,
Far away to far flung villages,
And the rich people from far flung villages bought the land,
Adding to the mix of new faces around,
The community was no longer the community it once was,
Where you knew everyone walking in the street.

It was crowded,
And there was no place even for the dead,
The pond next to the cemetery was filled,
Giving a good size land,
And out grew a modern looking center,
A cemented center,
A proud landmark for the community,
A center which even has an eating joint,
An eating joint filled with the young and the old,
Relishing the hot puff up tun with hawai thongba (puri with daal) in the morning,
And Bora kanghou (popular afternoon snacks of Manipur) in the evening,
The eating joint located right where the grave was,
The grave where I saw the son gathering his mother’s remains,
And the dead beneath were forgotten,
Ancestors to many becoming nameless with time.
And never known to the many news faces,
It’s said the dead is dead,
And they can’t feel,
It’s more for the living,
But my heart couldn’t quite agree,
On stamping all over the dead,
Knowing that they are beneath.

Now the dead of this community goes to another common cemetery,
A single spot,
Reused and stands lone as of now,
And only time can tell fate of this cemetery,
Being in the prime location,
It’s said the dead is dead,
And they can’t feel,
It’s more for the living,
But my heart couldn’t quite agree,
On a place which I couldn’t visit,
Filled with fear and taboo,
Marked and entered only when there is dead.

Then I continued asking my questions,
Questions about the dead,
About what I saw,
I heard from the men,
The men who completes the funeral,
The details of the funeral,
The gruesome details,
Said they axed the body parts to burn it completely when needed,
Said they knifed a bone from the forehead,
And yes they drink,
And we both know what drink we are referring to,
Even though it’s a dry state,
Said they had to,
Said they need to,
It could be a traumatic experience for someone who volunteers for the first time,
After all these men aren’t professionals,
They are the young people of the community,
To go through what they have to do,
It’s said the dead is dead,
And they can’t feel,
It’s more for the living,
But my heart couldn’t quite agree,
on the axing and the knifing.

Then I thought about the burial without any cremation,
It’s said the dead is dead,
And they can’t feel,
It’s more for the living,
But my heart couldn’t quite agree,
Of the worms crawling and eating the flesh.

Then I thought about meeting dead elsewhere,
Away from home,
My heart couldn’t quite agree with letting someone go through the process of preparation and transporting a dead body,
Couldn’t forget the fear and trauma,
I had seen in my sister’s eyes,
When she had to go through the process at a young age.

Then I thought about an electric crematorium,
Finishing where the dead is met,
No transportation,
No axing,
No knifing,
No worms,
Just a press of a button,
One might ask,
How about a last viewing ?
Then I preferred a beautiful memory when alive,
Probably a beautiful picture with a smile, smiled at the peak of happiness,
Than an imprint of a lifeless body.

My heart agreed with an electric cremation,
Initiating with pressing a button,
Ending with collecting the remains,
Carrying back in a beautiful urn,
Yes in a beautiful urn.

Then I thought of a cemetery filled with greens,
Tall trees and blooming flowers,
A beautiful garden,
With no fear,
Giving an instant connection to nature,
Feeling peace as you walk by.

Burying the remains with a choice of plant which will grow marking the grave,
A choice one could even choose while alive.
Or Maybe immersed in a beautiful pond,
Filled with clear water,
With the lotus and lilies blooming,
A choice one could even choose when alive.
Won’t you tell me if you feel the need,
The need for such a place.

I would choose the pink cherry blossom tree or the pink magnolia tree,
Which will stand big and tall with pride,
Giving shades in the hot summer,
With beautiful pink blossoms in the spring.

A cemetery closest to nature,
A cemetery to be created,
A cemetery which the living will treasure,
A cemetery of beauty,
Where you can walk without any fear,
Where you can be free from any taboo,
Where the ancestors will rest in peace,
A place which you can go back to visit,
Spent a moment when you want to,
For years to come,
In memory,
In rememberance,
To be connected,
Even in dead,
In the place where I was born,
Tucked near the beautiful hills.

Then I asked if there is any electric crematorium in Manipur,
Some said No,
Some said the power in Manipur isn’t enough to support an electric crematorium,
But I cannot be sure,
And my questions continues,
Searching for answers from,
From tales shared from the heart,
Tales spoken in low voices,
With a quest to create such a place,
A place opened to all,
To those who seeks such a place,
Welcoming one and all,
Irrespective of caste, creed or Religion,
Won’t you share your experiences ?
Won’t you share what you feel ?
Or you prefer the silence as it’s a taboo to talk about ?

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

090 It’s all in the mind : The Window

The Window

A symbolic window,
With the touch of a love one,
With memories etched in your mind,
A view you frequented,
A view which brought a certain completeness,
A view you seeked and waited,
Was it a long wait?
Did you ever see what you waited for ?
Or you kept waiting ?
Did the wind from the sea helped in your waiting ?

Note : Painted by Andrew Wyeth in 1947, “Wind from the Sea”. I stood mesmerized by this painting at National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and stood here with my thoughts of what the painter must be thinking as he was painting this beautiful piece. I paced ahead and came back once more to look at this beautiful painting. I love this painting.

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

089 It’s all in the mind : Dating in Manipur

Dating in Manipur 

I see a young couple
With white painted bald heads
Balded by the mob
The young couple
Lowered their eyes
Walking in shame
Like war criminals
Followed by a mob
Loud clinking sounds of the lamp post
Calling for more people
People who knows the law in such matters
Taking the law in their own hands
Passing judgement
Putting the stamp of immorality
The media excels in such coverage and research
Printing all the names of the young couple’s family tree
That was the picture imprinted in my mind
When I thought of dating
While growing up in Manipur.

My mother made sure I read all the news
Lectured me hours
Every time such news was covered
Which was often
But I never understood what defined “The compromising position” the couple was found,
The compromising position the media referred,
Was it looking intently in each others eyes?
Was it smiling and laughing?
Was it holding hands?
Was it hugging?
Was it kissing?
Was it more?
Was there a guideline defined?
There were lots of questions
Questions which I never got answers
And I remained behind
The thick iron gate
The gate which my father had two big locks
The gate which I dare not step out
And I always saw
The white painted bald heads
With lowered eyes
Walking in shame
Like war criminals
Followed by a mob
When I thought of dating in Manipur.

* Maru kokthoklaga, shunu yaingung teiraga, khonggoinaraga keina katpa (Meitei-Lon words from my Mother’s lecture)

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

088 It’s all in the mind : The Garden

The Garden 

You find yourself in a place,
Where feelings doesn’t count anymore,
Tears doesn’t mean anything,
You fall and fall again,
To be left,
Abandoned and deserted,
Where no empathy is found,
And you see yourself sinking quickly.
But you hold on to the Garden,
Hold on tightly,
To the garden filled with sweet peas flowers,
Filled with fragrance from the jasmine blooms,
The yellow orchids adding to the colors,
Bringing you close to the ginger lily plant,
The scent you seek for,
The garden, your garden,
Which never fails to lift you up,
Making you walk tall and high, yet again.Everyone has the garden,
You just have to figure out,
And find your garden, the garden,
Which you can hold on,
When you know you are starting to sink.

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

087 It’s all in the mind : The Rickshaw Ride at Tiddim Road

The Rickshaw Ride at Tiddim Road 

It was a sunny calm afternoon,
With no bandhs and no bombs,
I walked stirring the dust on the road,
Watched the dust fall on my blue flat pump shoes,
The road starting from Kwakeithel,
A new found freedom filled me,
Walking alone on this road,
The road I once feared to walk,
The fear instilled with unpredictable bomb blast,
The fear instilled with frequent kidnappings,
With a freedom bounded by my protective parents.

I waved to a Rickshaw across the road,
I ask him if he could take me to moreh dukan near Keishampat,
He said yes,
I hesitated as I got a whiff of alcohol from his breath,
Then I climbed up the rickshaw,
Feeling safe looking at the wide open Tiddim Road,
Telling myself “What could he do?”
Having the confidence to punch if required.

I watched the half broken buildings on the way,
As all the landmarks I knew disappeared,
The familiar shop and signboard were all gone,
A result in the attempt to widen the Tiddim Road,
A thick compensation offered which bought people’s silence,
The man pedals steadily,
I inhaled the dust getting the taste of the lovely cold wind blowing across my face.

And soon I was greeted with the familiar sight I seeked for,
Bringing out my smile,
I asked the man how much was the fare,
He said whatever was the going rate,
I didn’t know what was the going rate,
I asked him if he had change and gave him a crisp 100 Rs note,
He slipped an old 50 Rs back to me,
Thanking him I walked towards my destination,
Feeling accomplished,
It was my lone Rickshaw ride,
The Rickshaw ride at Tiddim Road.

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.

Authors Note: It’s a small event but a huge leap for me giving me the rush of freedom riding a rickshaw in the conflicted place of Manipur, India.

086 It’s all in the mind : The poison drink

The Poison Drink 

They say it’s bad,
They say it’s sinful,
I agree it’s bitter,
I agree it burns,
And yet you can’t resist,
You return once again,
To quench your thirst for the buzz,
The buzz that takes you to your world,
You know it can kill you,
And you nod in agreement,
Asking how do you unfeel a buzz ?

~The End~

An Experimental attempt to put thoughts in writing by Monica Ingudam.