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Thong Nambonbi is a part of our history and not a contractor’s building

Source: e-pao.net Source: e-pao.net

Thong Nambonbi is not just another bridge built by a contractor. It is part of this history. When it broke in half, we should accept that we have betrayed our history and our forefathers. Who are these forefathers ? They are those toiled and built the Thong Nambonbi in the 17th century. This bridge was first made by the war captives from a Chinese village called Khagee, who were later assimilated in the Meitei society. Their children have today become the people of Manipur.  We have betrayed their labour and their skill. When the bridge was built for the first time, these war captives built this bridge using a mix of lime, jaggery and black lentils and brick and most importantly their labour. The humped bridge was again erected in 1854 AD when Meidingu Chandrakriti ruled this land. It was designed by the  British engineers. It was a sight to behold when it was rebuilt during that time.
This humped bridge collapse with no one to protect it though it was in the list of the state’s protected monument. It was declared a protected monument under the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act 1976 in 1992.  This indicates where the blames lies.  The bridge does not just collapsed without any warning.
There have been many complaints  in newspaper reports about the failure to look after the bridge. Scores of newspaper articles and reports were written when the first cracks started appearing in the bridge. Hawkers and vendors use this small humped bridge to sell their goods but they were removed as it was a historical site. Later, the authorities banned the use of the bridge. Though the government managed to chase the people away from damaging the bridge, it was unable to chase their own incompetence in protecting the bridge. Even a local women’s organisation has urged the government to look after the bridge which was in a critical situation. In July last year, already a section of the bridge gave up. It was the signal of an impending collapse. Now it broke in half.
Now and then the rulers of this land show that they do not know the history of this land. Since these rulers do not know our history, they do not value the things our forefathers have left for us.  While our politicians run around inaugurating foot over bridges, we have failed a bridge which embodies our history. It is not just about those who rule us as we should not have so much expectations from these people. We have to do it for ourselves. It is quite an irony that the death of this bridge happened on the death anniversary of Ghambir Singh. We should not just remember their names and things they did in seminar rooms, we should also treasure the things they have left us, more importantly through their struggle and labour. But, it is not just the king who built these monuments from the money he amassed from the people. We should remember those people who labour to build it. Therefore, it is not just Chandrakriti’s Thong Nambonbi. It is the humped bridge of those who toiled in making it with their hands and we have betrayed them.

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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