Short story by: Ashinikumar Mutum
The protest for introduction of Inner Line Permit system reached its peak here in valley districts of Manipur. No matter the ILPS protest continue, outsiders still continue to dominate at various works sectors like running saloon, mistry, labours and almost all trading activities in the state. There is no dearth of work for outsiders especially from state like Bihar, UP and neighbouring Bangladesh. I don’t know how it works or how they are able to dominant in the work space where indigenous Meitei people could have replace it. May be they have something special quality to convince the people that some of the job like running a hair cutting saloon is hard to be replaced by local people.
Some people are very much concern about the ILPS but many among us still does not understand the urgent needs for the kind of legislation. This is perhaps the reason that people still encourage outsiders run shop particularly the hair cutting saloon.
Well this is about a saloon run by a Bihari somewhere at Meitei leikai in Imphal. 10 customers is the minimum in his saloon in a day. The Barber Rajesh Mishra is popular in the area and almost all the people of the locality supported him. He stayed at a rented house, about 200 meters from the place he run his saloon. When his saloon was closed for few weeks some months back for getting married at his home town, people of the area missed him very much as he is the only one friendly and experience in hair cutting.
It was 3 months back he returned home with his new bride. He was so careful that he never allowed his wife to his shop. He used to keep her at his rented room when he went for work.
Rojit, a young guy of nearly 25 yrs came every morning to the saloon and waited for some minutes. After seeing many customers in queue he asked how many more customers.
Rajesh said, “Wait for some minutes there are around 12 customers waiting”.
“Okay, I will come after some time”, Rojit will leave and will never come back.
Next day too Rojit came the same timing in the morning and asked the similar question. But as there are customers waiting in line he would leave saying that he would come back again.
For almost ten days Rojit came and asked about the customers and would go back without cutting his hair. And he never came back.
Rajesh Mishra having experience about the situation in Manipur started worrying about his behaviour. He started worrying as there are news about militants targeting non locals. After coming across such behaviour of the youth, Rajesh narrated the whole story to his wife Meena.
“Dear, I am worried, one person aged about 25 always come and asked about the customers and went, I think he is waiting for a chance to attacked me”, Rajesh told giving description of how the youth looks.
Meena said, “don’t worry dear, I know that guy, he stays very near to our house, he will do no such kind of thing”.
“Where?”, Rajesh asked.
“See that house”, Meena pointed at the southern side and said, “that is his house and his name is Rojit.
“May be he wanted to cut his hair and perhaps he is in a hurry”, Meena said.
Meena also said to her husband that the person always supported them whenever somebody talk against them.
“OK ok I will cut his hair if he comes tomorrow”, Rajesh said and both went to sleep.
The next day too Rajit came and started asking the same question. There were many customers but Rajesh Mishra told him that he can skip other customers waiting.
“No no bhaya, it’s all right I will cut when you are free”, Rojit answered and went.
It was almost 15 days that the similar thing happened. One day, after Rojit left, all shops were to shut down due to a people agitation, Rajesh too had to close the saloon. He returned back very early. As he was returning to his rented room he saw Rojit going to his room. As he approached he again noticed his wife Meena greeting and welcoming the young chap inside his room.
Rajesh didn’t say a word but slowly went at the side of his room and listened.
“Honey, he will come back only in the evening, we have a lot time to talk”.
After Rajesh heard this Meena talking to the young guy, Rajesh was so angry that he wants to cut Rojit into pieces. He then went back to his shop again thinking of telling the local meira paibi to let them know what exactly happen.
On the way he heard many people standing and shouting “We want ILPS”.