098 It’s all in the mind : Second Hand Clothes in Manipur

Second Hand Clothes in Manipur

You mock with slandering words,
To those wearing second hand clothes,
You must be the elite one,
Dressed in the way you think the elite does,
Covering your pretense,
Of your origin,
Have you forgotten the makeshift toilet ?
The one you ran with a small bucket ?
Where you held your breath from your own stench ?
Have you forgotten the fasting you did ?
To demand for a new bike which all your friends had ?
Oh! but you didn’t see how your mother ran door to door,
Borrowing money yet again,
Selling the gold earrings her father gave,
To keep up with your elite look,
Covering your economic status,
As you walk on the street,
With the material things you adorn yourself.

I had a blue jacket as a child,
Turning the inside out, it turned to a beautiful bright red jacket with blue borders,
A second hand jacket my grandmother gifted,
Which she meticulously picked amongst the many she saw and compared,
From the open second hand market at Churachandpur in Manipur,
Which was named my foren (foreign) jacket,
That became my favorite,
Many complimented wanting one for themselves,
My grandmother obliged and got more every time she visited,
For friends and neighbors who wanted,
But it was a hush hush matter that it was second hand clothes.

You who maintained the elite look,
Either by the hush hush words,
Or by your demands,
Mocking with slandering words,
How different are you in economic status ?
The status we all strive to rise above.

~The End~

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

This poem was written after I read comments amongst the people of hill and valley of Manipur mocking each other, trying to belittle the other making fun of wearing second hand clothes generalizing a community.



097 It’s all in the mind : The Tree at Punshilok

The Tree at Punshilok

I stood mesmerized by this tree,
With jet black trunk,
Looking rough and strong,
Growing on a hill,
A hill which once was barren,
Nurtured back,
Filling with greens and colors,
With different trees and flowers,
By kind-hearted people,
Believing in the balance of nature,
Rippling love and harmony to the humans,
Even giving a taste of calmness,
If you ever seek to connect back to nature,
Be sure to follow the trail,
Leading to Punshilok in Manipur,
Giving you a chance,
To play with the cold water trickling from the small stream,
To inhale the raw smell of the reddish soil of the hill,
To soak the fresh smell of bamboo leaves,
To lay your eyes on the tree with jet black trunk,
and stand where I stood feeling the creativity pouring out,
Your heart pleading to sit back and watch,
Watch the view of the valley with the green hills tucked behind,
And if you are early you might even catch the sunrise,
The sight which will make your heart seek,
To return yet again.


~The End~

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

Dedicating this poem to everyone who have nurtured this hill which was once barren. A great example of change initiated by the people bringing each tiny effort together from planting to cleaning up, and nurturing it back to a green luscious hill. Thanks to everyone at Punshilok, Manipur

096 It’s all in the mind : A Funeral for my living Father

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.

~The End~

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

Author’s Notes: I was deeply pained and saddened by the threats, personal attacks (specially the ones about my father) and abusive vicious raw words/message I received for writing the Poem “Students in Manipur”.

Written while I was traveling in the Air India flight from Delhi to Imphal, completed in my Father’s house sitting in the Mangong (Portico) listening to the familiar sound of birds chirping. A photograph of my meal with my Father just before I left Imphal, a meal with the hope and wish for more meals together.

095 It’s all in the mind : Students of Manipur

Students of Manipur

In the land of Manipur,
You will find many young teenager students put in the forefront to protest issues,
Elsewhere in other part of the world you will find students in a classroom,
In a nurturing ambience,
Instilling values and providing continous education,
It’s time to ask yourself where is the place of the students?

Institutions not allowing the students to participate in the protests are threatened,
Institutions keeping the students in the classroom are bullied,
The Institutions committed to provide education to students,
But you would find many applicants for admission,
Creating another protest demanding to get admissions,
It’s time to ask yourself why you seek for admission from such institutions ?

Mothers toil in the hot sun,
Selling vegetables in the market,
Fathers contented with only one good shirt for work,
Saving all their earnings, selling off their land,
To send the children out of Manipur, in the hope to get continous education and a job with their own merit,
It’s time to ask yourself why many are going out seeking for education ?

The students in Manipur are facing the forefront of the Protest,
Loosing the precious life hit by rubber bullets,
Thrashed by the lawmaker of the land leaving a big scar in their psyche,
The students seeking education outside of Manipur in India,
Are facing the taunt of Identity and acceptance gulping down the many “ching chong” comments,
It’s time to ask yourself where is the place for the students of Manipur ?

~The End~

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

Author’s Note : Students in Manipur are often caught in the midst of the conflict, facing what they shouldn’t be facing and having to go lengths to get an education, the education every child deserves. I wrote this poem after I read that a student died during the ongoing agitation and protests. I was filled with pain and helplessness to see the condition of students of Manipur and what they have to go through. I beleive in the power of education and wished for the peaceful ambience of institutions for the students of Manipur.

We should protest and speak up for the things we beleive in. Findingthevoices is my way of protesting. I also beleive in the freedom to choose what I protest for, and protesting in a non voilent way.

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.