My reminiscences of Imphal from 1941 Half 19


My reminiscences of Imphal from 1941

– Half 19 –

Dr Mohendra Irengbam *


 Author on a salvaged WWII motorbike with Kh Dhiren from Kongba [introduced high-yielding varieties of rice], after haircut by barber's saloons at Makha Dukan in 1955, during our summer holidays from college.

Writer on a salvaged WWII motorcycle with Kh Dhiren from Kongba [introduced high-yielding varieties of rice], after haircut by barber’s saloons at Makha Dukan in 1955, throughout our summer season holidays from school.

It isn’t such a terminally silly notion that the differentiation between peoples, will depend on the consequences of schooling and self-discipline. Folks of my age, can see huge adjustments in Meitei nationwide character over the previous 70 years because of rising literacy. Schooling is a reputable supply of standing distinction and with it comes a disciplined behaviour. Not everybody although, has an equal alternative of getting to college. Standing inequalities have at all times existed. And so, I oscillate broadly between feeling saturnine and damaged in mirth.

By the early Sixties, the belligerent and narcissistic tradition of Meitei youth that I wrote in my essay on the Meitei Nationwide Character, was morphing right into a extra gregarious comportment than philistine. This accrued from the unfold of postwar schooling. Extra educated youth got here out from schools in Imphal and out of doors. Additionally they grew to become extra disciplined. Looking back, this strikes a chord with a current analysis discovering about racism within the UK.

Dr Robert Ford revealed the findings of the British Social Attitudes Survey in 2013. “The generational decline in racial prejudices can be not evenly unfold. Generational shifts in attitudes have been most fast amongst extremely educated Britons, these in excessive standing occupations and amongst ladies. Youthful generations of those teams appear to have been fully socialized right into a tolerant set of ‘multicultural’ norms, and barely categorical any discomfort about social contact with ethnic minorities.”

The implications of Japan Lan between the durations from 1945-1950, set off a development in cultural transformation, which fully modified the outlook of Meiteis. The position the Warfare performed by chanceis greater than the younger generations would realise. The social, political and mental developments had been inevitably inflected by adjustments wrought about by the consequences of WWII. The conflicting pulls of passivity and energetic dedication have usually decided the temper of the educated youth.

Much less viscerally, one may make out the lineaments of contemporary English schooling on the comportment of many college students who studied at schools outdoors Manipur. Illiterate Manipuri mother and father started to know the worth of English schooling of their youngsters. They started to note the hole between Lairik heiba (educated) and Lairik heitaba (uneducated). That’s, a lay individual may discover the distinction between educated and uneducated kids.

An informed individual is open-minded whereas the uneducated is self-centred. Due to the interplay between completely different cultures through the Warfare, and the emergence of extra educated folks within the postwar interval, a sort of new considered schooling started to emerge. Thus started the interval of renaissance or rebirth of Manipuri Literature as written works of prose and poetry of inventive and superior deserves started to appear, although there are apparent issues with attempting to find out what was happening of their heads

Works on Manipuri literature may be mentioned to have existed for an extended interval in Meitei historical past. Nonetheless, all interpretation is situational, constrained by the relative standards of a selected tradition at the moment. Fashionable Manipuri literature started to floor within the early a part of the twentieth century. Due to a gallery of liberal younger Meitei males with a craving for modernism, to have interaction in information advances. They had been those that had greater schooling outdoors Manipur, similar to Shillong, Gauhati, Sylhet, Dacca and Calcutta.

There are theories of what literature is. The one I like is what a Russian critic Roman Jakobson wrote: “Literature represents an organised violence dedicated on unusual speech.” Literature transforms and intensifies unusual language and deviates systematically from on a regular basis speech. Literature is a particular sort of language that contrasts to the widespread language we use. Some literature is fictional and a few just isn’t.

Through the time of minor Raja Churachand Singh, the British Political Agent administered the state on his behalf till the administration was handed over to him on Might 15 1907. This era was known as ‘beneath British administration’, throughout which, the federal government parwana (urdu = notifications) had been issued in Manipuri. That was the actual starting of refined Manipuri language.

Makes an attempt started within the Twenties to get Manipuri recognised as a vernacular for the Prabeshika (Bengali = matriculation) for Calcutta College, by just a few educated Meiteis. These pioneers put their shoulders to the wheel and after years of twiddling their thumbs, Manipuri was recognised as a vernacular topic by Calcutta College in 1924. After I was learning in school V at Johnstone Excessive Faculty, just a few lecturers like Khwaikrakpam Chaoba and others used to inform us what they needed to do for it.

The primary expertise of Meitei literate civilisation got here to Manipur in about 770 CE with Poireiton Khunthok (the early settlement account of Poireiton), adopted by Nummti Kappaa (preHindu mythologies), Ningthouron Lambuba (army prowess of Meitei kings), Leithak Leikharon (an account of the Meitei idea of the creation with gods and goddesses).

Cheitharol Kumbaba (quick chronicles of the actions and instances of Meitei kings) dates again to second century CE, starting with Nongda Lairen Pakhangba. One other ebook, Chakpa Khunda Khunthok tells the subjugation of smaller Kangba clan, which was absorbed by the Pakhangba clan. What can actually be known as refined prose literature, was the publication of Nungbaan Poimbi Luwaoba within the sixteenth century. It’s a narrative of the extraordinary love of Luwaoba for his spouse Koubaron that pressured the gods to revive her life.

Newer types of Manipuri literature started after the Hinduisation of Meiteis right into a sect of Hinduism, known as Gaurya Vaishnavism (Bengali Vaishnavism). It was began by a Brahmin Chaitanya (alias Gouranga) as Bhakti motion at Navadeep, a district of Bengal. It flourished through the reign of Gharib Nawaz (alias Pamheiba, 1690-1751 CE). Kangleipak modified to Manipur in 1724. It started with the interpretation of Mahabharata and Ramayana from Bengali.

Within the pre and postwar durations, there have been fairly just a few non secular books translated from Bengali or Sanskrit, similar to abridged Ramayana by Gokul Shastri (1890); abridged Mahabharata by Gokul Shastri (1900); Bhagavad Purana by Phurailtpam Atombapu Sharma; Bhagad Gita by Kalachand Shastri, Meghanandvadh from Michael Madhusudan’s Bengali poems by H Nabadwip Singh,
Shreegeeta by Khumanthem Gourakishore; and Shrimadbhagabad Gita by Shitaljit. Kalachand Shastri, in addition to by Shitaljit. Each had been my lecturers at Johnstone Faculty.

My father Irengbam Gulamjat (1896-1992) was additionally concerned in writing, principally translations from Bengali and Sanskrit, similar to Radhakrishna Premkali, Shreegobinda Leela Amrita, Shree Geetgovnida and others. His prose poetry translations had his personal type of prosody and meter, known as Padya Chanda. A mixture of lyrical and metric components of poetry with idiomatic components of prose. He was the primary Manipuri who translated Bhakti sankritan from Bengali to Manipuri, which is now sung in Ras Lila performances


 (L) Irengbam Gulamjat Singh  (R) Khumanthem Gourakishore Singh

(L) Irengbam Gulamjat Singh (R) Khumanthem Gourakishore Singh

As a prequel and sequel of Japan lan, the one prose literary books we knew within the quick postwar interval, had been Dr Kamal’s Madhabi (1896-1951), Hijam Angamghal’s Khamba Thoibi sheireng (1892-1943) and Hijam Irabot’s Sita (1896-1951), and Khwairakpam Chaoba’s Labanga-Lata (1896-1950), Hawaibam Nabadwipchandra’s poems, Tonulaijinglembi Kavya (1897-1946), and Ashangbam Mineketon’s Meitei Upanyas (1906-1995).

These early prose literature consisted of deeply complacent themes on romantic love, fettered by the conference of time, and Meitei nationwide identification, so lovingly adumbrated by Dr Kamal in his Madhabi (1930). He was an innovator of writing novels in Manipuri. In Madhabi, he wrote titillating tales of romantic love and sacrifice. He had the aesthetic capability to remodel his phrases and his personal private type of writing. He reworked Canchipur as a dreamy unique panorama as in Homer’s Odyssey. His poems: Kanchipurgi lemhouba Makhak and Chandranadi resonate with alluring picture of Canchipur. I feel he’s the daddy of mnedieval Manipuri literature.


 (L) Lamabam Kamal Singh (M) Khwairakpam Chaoba Singh (R) Hijam Irabot Singh

(L) Lamabam Kamal Singh (M) Khwairakpam Chaoba Singh (R) Hijam Irabot Singh

Kamal’s modern Khwairakpam Chaoba, additionally wrote unhappy poetry (elegy), being sorry for himself, similar to Chingda satpi engelei and Thainagi Leirang. Chaoba. He was a trainer at Johnstone Excessive Faculty.

He taught us that one ought to write a poem with one’s feelings, not simply make it up ie not simply to incorporate the emotion however to explain your feelings. He like Charles Dickens, reworked Manipuri literature and gave it a face, single-handedly.


 (L) Ashangbam Mineketan Singh (R) RK Shitaljit Singh

(L) Ashangbam Mineketan Singh (R) RK Shitaljit Singh

Among the many trendy writers, Ashangbam Mineketan, was one of many uncommon high-profile students of Manipuri literature. He emphasised the utopian root of literature He was additionally my trainer at Johnstone Faculty. At my time, he was identified to have his personal poetical type, utilizing lots of archaic Manipuri phrases.

He revealed many books and papers, and was a recipient of many prestigious awards. And I imagine he’s considered the founding father of Fashionable Manipuri literature. I’m inclined to agree. He was the earliest professor of Manipuri language and literature on the newly constructed DM Faculty.


  MK Binodini Devi

MK Binodini Devi

Essentially the most well-known, and beloved trendy Manipuri author, doesn’t want introduction. She is MK Binodini Devi. Her literary system is using Manipuri phrases and phrases that usher in some sort of feeling to the phrases’ ordinary which means.

Her writings are at all times distinguishable by being artistic with a snug movement of phrases and with a logical construction of syntax. She was probably the most deliberate and assiduous neologisers of the 20 th century Manipuri.

I met her when she got here to our home to see my father to provide her condolences on the loss of life of my mom in June 1990. I’ve learn most of her books together with just a few that she introduced to me on July 17 1992, similar to ashangba Nongjabee (1967), nungngairakta Chandramukhi (1967) and Churachand Maharaj gi emung (2008). The final one is most pleasing because it uncovers the unknown tales of historical past.


(L) Elangbam Sonamani Singh (R) Leimapokpam Damodar Singh

(L) Elangbam Sonamani Singh (R) Leimapokpam Damodar Singh

One writer of eminence, who harnessed his goals and preserved them via writing, is Elangbam Sonamani Singh. He has been embellished with a wide range of awards. I knew him since quick postwar years. His writings in any style have takeaway values. The plots are at all times participating, utilizing a setting to advance the plot. The story at all times has a satisfying ending. I went to see him in November 2019. I cherish is his debut, ninggaidabi- a prose poetry narrative, consisting of 9 verses (1988). In his quick tales, he has a present for creating ambiance.

There have been many trendy litterateurs in Manipuri. However as I’ve been residing within the UK for over half a century, I’ve been acquainted with solely a only a few of them. One was my modern and pal, Leimapokpam Damodar Singh (ex-Principal of Imphal Faculty). I knew Damodar from college days. He wrote: Manipuri Leela Macha (1975) and Manipuri wari macha (1992).

Damodar gave me two of his books: Dr L Kamal Singh (2000), and Elements of Manipuri Literature (2008). His literary criticism of the works of many authors in these books, police their doubtlessly unintelligible particulars, and rescues from the ravages of historical past all the time.

He persuasively interprets complicated texts to assist college students empathise with their works. Although the query stays how does he, as a critic, declare to have godlike information of the textual content that’s denied to a mean reader. Drawing an analogy, it may be requested how one can know the sunshine within the fridge is off when the door is closed. It’s as a result of he can interpret what’s logically constrained within the textual content itself.


(L-R)   Author and Binapani at her home in 2016

(L-R) Writer and Binapani at her residence in 2016

Among the many trendy junior ladies writers, Thokchom Binapani Devi stands out a mile. I knew her because the youngest daughter of Dr Goberdhan Singh, the primary Meitei physician. I learn her books: Lambishina Loishilakpada (2010) and Manigi Mangal (2011).

Manigi Mangal which she gave me in 2013, is pleasant with a humorous mixture of the profound and the mundane, giving the reader an instinctive glimpse into the times of yonder years in Manipur. This high quality literature stands the check of time.

One other ebook Lambisina Loishinlakpada, which she kindly introduced to me in 2016, seems to be her autobiography. It is vitally riveting till I arrive at that portion the place the sufferer of the perpetual home violence from an uncouth husband, seems to be herself. She blames her marriage as a regrettable quirk of destiny that was circumstantially pressured upon her by Meitei societal tradition. She has many awards in literature and for audio-visual documentaries.


(L-R)  Priyadarshan M Gangte ; Arambam meme Devi

(L-R) Priyadarshan M Gangte ; Arambam meme Devi

A feminine tutorial author is Priyadarshani Maisnam Gangte, MA, Ph. D, LLM, Assoc. prof. of historical past, Damdei Christian Faculty, Motbung, Manipur. Her analysis works concerning the tribal communities of Manipur, particularly the Chikim, is inescapable. She has revealed many papers in high tutorial journals, and authored many books. She believes within the solidarity of all of the communities in Manipur. I discover her feminist response because the Editor, in her ebook: Indian ladies via the ages, for enhancing the participation of ladies in all walks of life, as a watch opener for alpha males.

Through the years, I learn her articles within the Sangai Categorical, which had been significant and intense. She gave me just a few of her books in November 2019, which I used to be studying for pleasure to enhance my sense of connectedness to the broader communities in Manipur. To my nice shock, I discovered her quoting me in her ebook, Tribal Land, Historical past and Tradition and Different Essays (2013, p275). She is a public mental. One of many few cerebral writers of Manipur. As a recipient of many high-status awards, she represented India within the World Peace Convention, held in Athens, Greece in 2000.

Amongst younger feminine poets, I used to be fortunate to satisfy Arambam Meme Devi in 2017, when she gave me her ebook of poetry, chillo pamjana, containing 24 poems. Her dedication of the ebook to her late elder brother Sharat, who was my modern and pal, may be very stirring.

The dedication can be the title of her ebook:

Eshei kaya sheireng kaya ibiramba

Ibung Sharat Arambam

Nanggee nafamda nachanna katchari

Chillow pamjana

I used to be knocked for six by the ability, rhyme, tone and implied meanings of her poems. They’re descriptive with good imaginations and clear pictures. Her literary methods and conventions make readers suppose critically. One in every of her poems, hangoigee serfala for instance, a few drunken husband is extraordinarily joyous. Her poems cope with ardour, melancholy, goals, life, and loss of life. They’re singularly authentic, lovely and elegiac. Above all, I respect the poet in Meme.

Meme jogs my memory of John Keats, who wrote ‘Ode to a Nightingale‘. I as soon as, went to see the plumb tree, beneath which Keats sat and wrote the poem. It grows in a small backyard home in North London. I remembered him as I studied English language and literature within the school.


(L-R)  Dr Premchand Thangjam ; Dr Jodha Sanasam :: At my Book Launch in 2013, Imphal

(L-R) Dr Premchand Thangjam ; Dr Jodha Sanasam :: At my E-book Launch in 2013, Imphal

Among the many distinguished younger male writers, Dr Sanasam Jodha Singh is commendable. He gave me his novel Akanba Shafugi Erei (1981) in 2010. On this novel, he has damaged down obstacles in Manipuri literature – whether or not social, sexual, or, merely the boundaries of language itself. He has introduced within the primary components of modernism in Manipuri novels, as Joseph Conrad (1895-1923) and Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) launched modernism in English literature. Jodha’s narrative language has an easy movement that leads the reader to the subsequent impending cliffhanger. He was writing in and for an age which delighted in scholarly novelty. He’s additionally a literary awardee.

The postwar years had been the spring of blossoms of contemporary drama writers. As I keep in mind, Kamal’s Madhabi, and Aurangazeb had been carried out at our Uripok simply earlier than the Warfare, by novice actors. Within the quick postwar interval, just a few skilled dramatic teams sprang up, particularly the Manipur Dramatic Union (MDU) on the Police Strains at Yaiskul, the Aryan Theatre at Sagolband, and the Rupmahal Theatre within the city centre.

The current Rupmahal Theatre was constructed simply after the Warfare. It existed as an novice drama group at Bamon Leikai through the Warfare. Pleasure thrummed the air when pipe metal-rimmed skeleton car seats from WWII salvage depots, had been put in within the auditorium. My emotional pleasure on seeing rows of naked metallic seats harked ahead an epoch-making phenomenon of the arrival of contemporary mod cons to rustic Imphal city. They had been just like the seats in cinema halls in Calcutta, similar to Metro and Lighthouse at Chowringhee (now J Nehru Street).

However the happiness was ephemeral. When the theatre corridor was open, the seats had been solely the frames with out springs and fabric. The seats had been full of planks and coated with lengthy stretches of gray linen that went as much as cowl the hole again relaxation.

There have been many well-known actors and actresses, similar to Jadumani for MDU, Birendrakumar for Rupmahal and Birmangal for Aryan Theatre. Famed actresses had been Bimola from Keisampat, Thambalangoubi from Nagamapal, Shapam Nupimacha and Tandon from Wangkei Leikai. There have been drama performances as soon as each week, and the halls had been at all times packed. The worth of the few entrance seats had been 3 rupees every.

There have been many good performs. My eternally favorite was, Nungshi Lamal, starring Bimola from Keisampat and Birendrakumar from Yaiskul within the Rupamahal Theatre. Its traditional trendy tune nonetheless tugs at my coronary heart’s strings in the present day:

Nungshi kari oirashige nuja wakhal thenmalline,

Nungshi nashunglangidamak kaikharene eigi thamoi.

Nunshi napao tadringei pamu koloi shengdringei

Nungshibana hallure wakhal lishang tharure.

Nungshi epakta langtharamlaga khambee meibu churamlaga

Nura pukning honglagera nungshi shamai leiragera?

Pakhang pukning hongdringei nungshi chenglau muttringei

Pakhang thawai kalamkho nungshi paomennakhisiko

Nuja pukning hanganuko.

Lyricist: M Bira Singh

Composer: L Gourahari Singh

Singer: L Birendrakumar Singh

By 1946, Calcutta-printed newspapers like Amrita bazaar Patrika, Hindustan Instances and Statesman had been out there every day in Imphal. They widened the horizon of data for readers. Native dailies gave native information and knowledgeable the general public of wrongdoing.

By 1947, trendy sports activities and athletics grew to become well-liked, together with boxing. I additionally learnt boxing as a way to defend myself within the youngsters’ tough and tumble fights. My pal Keisam Irabot (lawyer) was my sparring accomplice. Unbelievable because it appears, the primary Manipur Olympic Video games was organised in 1947 beneath the steerage of MK (Capt) Madhurjit (a grandson of Bir Tikendrajit) from Janmasthan as President, and Nambram Binoy (son of Dr Leiren), the entire athlete, from Naga Mapal, as secretary.

By 1948, the gown code of many Meitei grownup Meitei males and highschool college students modified from dhoti or quick pants to trousers and a few with jackets in winter. They wore leather-based footwear. There have been two trendy tailoring outlets, one on all sides of the newly constructed Rupmahal Theatre Corridor. One grasp tailor in a single store was referred to as Kunje. The title of the opposite escapes my reminiscence. Single women did away with the previous hair type and combed their hair again, however carrying footwear was nonetheless thought-about outlandish by ladies.

By 1949, Sagolsem Indramani from Thangmeiband, began a fitness center at his personal courtyard. He skilled lots of of teenager and some women to construct their physique. And so they did. It was freed from value. In the identical 12 months, Laisram Manaobi Singh, the proprietor of Associates’ Talkies, organised Mr and Miss Manipur contests, providing cash and heifers as prizes. Miss Khumanthem Mema from Singjamei grew to become the primary Miss Manipur. She was petite however with refinement of magnificence and sweetness. She was a niece of Salam Rajdhon, a detailed pal of mine, who grew to become first Government Officer of Imphal Municipal Council.

In 1950, Birla Airways’ launched every day flights to Imphal and again to Calcutta through Gauhati, conserving Manipuris extra in contact with the remainder of India. Many educated households by this time, owned a hi fi to hearken to every day information and Manipuri songs broadcast from Gauhati. Manipuri dance within the type Ras Lila started to flourish. The primary Dance Academy, now referred to as Jawaharlal Nehru Dance Academy, was established in Imphal in 1954.

The Japan Lan completely reworked the final carriage of Manipuri youth, who at the moment are of their 80s. They shaped the primary phalanx in a serious character upheaval of Meiteis. They outlined a brand new Meitei tradition by their private experiences, uploaded to a queer number of their pure historical past, a few of which is kind of indigestible by an underdeveloped thoughts.

This may sound like a Lilliputian squabble in my thought course of, like dancing on the top of a pin. It isn’t intentionally preposterous. Why? I’m now domiciled in England, and I don’t really feel any completely different from any Manipuri. I met Christopher Gimson, essentially the most well-known Political Agent of Manipur, at his residence in Leicester in 1967. Merely as two folks from two completely different nations.

Due to Japan Lan.

Writer’s web site: drimsingh.com


* Dr Mohendra Irengbam wrote this text for e-pao.internet

The author may be contacted at irengbammsingh(AT)gmail(DOT)com

This text was webcasted on March 07 2021 .




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