A Tribute to Irom Sharmila
Fair maiden of Manipur
Who would have guessed
That under your petite frame
Lurks an indomitable spirit stronger than steel
What powered you,
To singlehandedly take on the might of the state?
With its garrison of ‘order-driven’ men
And the deadly AFSPA machine
In a land famed for mighty kings
And the collective strength of the Meira Paibis
It is ironic that in your quest for peace for your people
None dared to accompany you
How do you manage to resist the temptation of the table for ten long years?
Denying your body its basic sustenance
And the sheer pleasure of an ordinary existence
What drives you to sacrifice everything for a cause?
How do you cope with the tube permanently attached to your nose?
How do you deal with your handlers who kept you caged
like an animal in the zoo?
How do you maintain your sanity and faith in democracy?
I take my hat off to you my brave sister,
For your unflagging spirit and the courage you show
In a world torn by violence and self-seeking politics
You are our only beacon of hope
To jolt the sleeping conscience of our nation
And save the North East and India from destruction
Laitumkhrah, prized locality of Shillong
How my heart bleeds for thee
Your once quiet streets and flower bedecked gardens
Are now but distant memories
As I made my way down the familiar road
From Fire Brigade Ground to Don Bosco Square
I long for the cool breeze that once wafted my way
Lifting up my spirit on my daily walk to college
There was then no heavy traffic to interrupt my thought
No clogged drains or garbage dump
No shops or merchandise spilling out into the footpath
No beggars or vagabond to waylay the pedestrian
Now, all that is in the past
A mere slice of our fast fading history
With the onset of modernity and the craze for development
Our public and private spaces alike
Are fast taken up by commerce and machines
No longer do we see carefree faces leisurely walking their children to school
But a harried lot audibly cursing the motorists
As they ferry their broods across the busy street
Into overcrowded taxis
Is this the price we pay for progress?
For an ideal world in which prosperity and comfort is assured for all?
Where is that promised-land?
Why is it eluding us?Will our politicians and planners please answer up!
-- Tiplut Nongbri, New Delhi