Dr. K. Ruhinikumar Sharma*
It is hard to believe that our beloved teacher Professor Gangmumei Kamei is no more among us. His innocent and ever smiling face will be very difficult to erase from our minds. A true worshipper of Clio, the Muse of History whose concern and mission for life was devoted to understand not only the past but also the present and future of this small place on a corner of the earth called Manipur. My words cannot begin to assess the life, work, achievements and rare shortcomings of this man who stood and shone like a star in the intellectual horizon of Manipur. Despite encyclopedic knowledge of the history and culture of the region, our teacher was humble enough to claim himself “a student of history”, who is proud of the heritage and civilization of a community of people called Manipur where a number of ethnos adopted the land as their home and shared and enjoyed vicissitudes of life.
My personal acquaintance with Oja Kabui goes back to 1986 when I was enrolled as a student pursuing Bridge Course in history at Manipur University and our teacher was then the Dean of Students’ Welfare. However, I have been introduced to his writings since the 70’s of the past century through his columns in the then popular Manipuri monthly ‘Lamyanba’ edited by the firebrand (Late) Nonmeikappam Sanajaoba. In this journal he regularly contributed articles on the neighbouring countries of Southeast Asia under the caption ‘Eikhoigee Yumlonnaba Leibakshing’ which we read with awe how a person belonging to Kabui community could write such beautiful prose in Manipuri language. But when I enquired how he could perform such a feat, he laughed it off saying “your Oja Thaimei (late Prof. Mangthoi Thaimei of D.M College) writes better than me in Manipuri language!” Such was the simplicity of a man called Gangmumei Kamei who was kind enough to offer us a preview of his then yet to-be published manuscript on the “History of Manipur: Pre-Colonial Period” which is a magnum opus amongst the more voluminous historical works produced by this great teacher.His demise leaves a deep void in the hearts of many of his students. He shall forever be etched in our hearts as the loving Oja Kabui. May his soul rest in peace in the affectionate care of Tingkao Ragwang.