RETURN OF YANGON

RETURN OF YANGON

Written By: / Articles / Sunday, 19 October 2014 00:00

R.K. Shivachandra

The heat wave spread across Yangon city and thick humidity flows amidst the eastern wind. The mercury had touched 40 degree centigrade in mid-day with an unbearable thrust of heat unlike the one in Manipur. At times it is compensated by seldom drizzle that refreshes the withering souls. I had visited Yangon long time back and had had short sojourns in the City in between and it is now 5 years or so I had visited the city of Alungopaya last.Shwedagon Pagoda stood tall and pride in the middle of Yangon City.  The Pagoda of gold is also known in English as the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda, is a gilded pagoda and stupa 99 metres (325 ft) in height. The pagoda stands to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill, thus dominating the skyline of the cityYangon has always puzzled me and a question from within at times pondering me why I did fantasize Yangon so much. I had been interacting with the Lord Buddha of different shape and sizes that glows and glitters in the way he always used to be all around Yangon City since the day I set foot in his holy soil. There is nothing much to be seen in Yangon except a solemn communication with the holy Lord. The smiling Buddha in his silent holiness seemed to have said to me often “My child, cometh to me and I will give peace and make you free from the misery of the World”. I did reply in dismay “God I am already in politics and the word called ‘Peace’ had already been drifted apart too far away from me...till I accomplish my job for my people whom you loved most, peace never come easily”.  The benevolent Prince of Kapilabastu of the erstwhile kingdom of Nepal bestowed upon me his eternal divinity and love to be possessed along that I received it in reverence.Not far from Shwedagon Pagoda lies Yuzana Plaza, the noted shopping mall in Yangon City. This mall is a land mark for me every time I visited Yangon. A few steps upwards from the mall while crossing Kandawgyi Lake of the city, is the place called ‘Pona-Gok’ means Meitei colony.  The Meetei Leikai had a glorious past with some odd 250 Meetei households. The Meetei families made their exodus from Mandalay some 250 years ago to Yangon during the royal feud over the throne of Mandalay and they were probably aligned support with either of the royal clans. They obviously settled in Yangon to escape the ferocious attack of the emerging force in Mandalay.The large Meetei Leikai is not worth a name nowadays. Paona Gog is now home to many Muslims households and some ostracised Meetei families for having inter-marriage with the Burmese against the will of their parents. The large crowd had now diminished to a miserably small numbers and hardly some 4 households remains guarding the sanctity of the glorious village of the bygone days. Eigya Shyam, Mala Devi, Surodhoni Devi, Chandramala and sweet little boy Gopalchandra are lovely people in Yangon. How fondly   I remember them till this day. If we care to go for a little deeper quest of the Meetei survivors in the Leikai, one should not lose sight of the Mandav of Eigya kalachand located in the extreme end of the lane. Eigya kalachand is a skinny old man who had touched 80s of his life. He has many stories to tell to every one of us. It was in 2005 that I visited Yangon with a large group of Manipuris enroute Mandalay than to Yangon by bus. The Mandav of Eigya kalachand was then filled with laughter and happiness. He invited me to come back to Yangon someday.Life had been packed up with duties and responsibilities. Years flew by but nothing could be marked as accomplished over the years. My memories of Myanmar had slowly been faded away in my busy schedules. The joyous moments in Myanmar have now become faint echoes of the past. Sometimes when someone called me “Pabung” or “Baba” considering me I am about the age of their parents, I stared them with a big scowl on my face with an envy of my bygone younger days.  But   I tend to humbly acknowledge to the fact that I am middle-aged now.The illusive mirrors that reflect me every day dragged me too far without letting me know how soon time slides, deceiving me all these years.The grey hair that was once fantasised in my younger years has now mushrooming up as if I would grow old soon to be leaned on a stick.   But many called me ‘young boy of 50’ for active politics begins at 70s in Manipur. In that case I have 25 years down the line to become a full grown politician.  From the view of seasoned politicians I am still young.Today, many summers have gone by since the day I first visited Myanmar. The road to Myanmar is yet to be permitted to trespass beyond Tammu. The easy land route travel to Mandalay and Yangon has now stopped. India is busy with Look East Policy but never did they care of a road opening and a free land entry access to the citizens of both countries. Sometimes I flew from Kolkata to Yangon to greet respect to Eigya kalachand in ‘Pona Gog’ but it has become a very expensive wish that I can’t bear.I am now in Myanmar after many years with Manipuri Raseswari Pala troupe with its leader Dr. Jamini Devi and other 18 women members. The Consulate General and his Deputy in Kolkata have been kind enough issuing a land route visa for all of us this time. Words are poor confronters to express such feeling I have no words to say ‘thank’ to them. They helped me a lot. In our 10 days tour we brought back a lot of messages back home.Yes, Kamala Devi the lovely maiden from Minde Ekin of Mandalay, assisted me throughout my off and on visit to Myanmar, extending a helping hand to every Manipuri visitors selflessly. How could I thank her? She is a rare gem and I would simply treasure her dedication and services she rendered throughout my life.We had visited Yangon this time too. Eigya kalachand was not the same Kalachand I met years before. He has now become old and an unknown disease had eaten up his limb and finding hard to walk around if not with a help of a walking stick. By the time we reached at his Mandav he was seen tossing on a thin mat struggling with an afternoon nab in the corner of his Mandav.   The gleeful charm has banished away from his wrinkled face.He could not recognise me at first sight.  He submissively apologised to me for being unable his people of Meetei Leikai speak Manipuri language. Many of his kith and kin who listened to Manipuri language like the chanting of Sanskrit slog gathered around us. “Go to Mandalay and save them from extinct...Yangon will be no more” Eigya pleaded with tears welled eyes. Yangon Meetei household has now reduced miserably and there is no at all sign of Meetei existence.We participated in the Sandhya Aarti performed in his Ram Mandir every Sunday but with a thin crowd this time. It is now almost deserted. He played the Midranga (PUNG) as if he had enough zeal and energy but I know he is no longer in the mood. The Manipuri Raseswari Pala did their best to cheer them up but they seem to be exhausted. Their eyes speak it.Next day I went up to Shwedagon Pagoda. Lord Buddha was only the one who had not changed at all in all these years. “Boy what bringeth you here...it is been long time now”. The Saturday Buddha spoke me gracing on a large coiled serpent in profound meditation. My birthday being Saturday I always used to go to him. “All is well but what makes you deprive the Meeteis speaking their own mother tongue in your holy land” He never care to answer me but in deep meditation. I repeated the same query. “Back home and ask your politicians what they did for them over the years. Unless you awake and get enlightened their insight, there will not be an answer to that”.  He said to me. I bowed down to him. I wanted to ask him why he had manufactured bad politicians in Manipur while good ones for China. But his calmness and tranquillity   got tightened my tongue back from further queries.   I bade him goodbye.The cab driver drove me back to hotel. He was a south Indian. Upon reaching hotel I asked him a question “Mr. Are you still fluent with your mother tongue?  Can you speak Malayali” He replied “Definitely we interact in my own mother tongue at homes outside we speak Burmese”.Another sleeplessness night passed before my eyes without even a wink. I was in deep thought and  wondering whether Eigya Kalachand would live another two years guarding the Meeteis village. He is now 84.If not him than who would interpret my Manipuri language to the least Meetei populace in Yangon?  Should I begin learning Burmese to interact them? I am annoyed why they didn’t care to speak their own language.  No they are not to be blamed it is now 300 years that they have been cut-off from the rest of the Meetei mainland. Not a wonder, even Sanasam Dhiren who married a Phom lady in Tuensang of Nagaland in 1980 had now converted to Dolak Phom and he had forgotten Manipuri. If 30 years could create Dolak Phom out of Sanasam Dhiren than why shouldn’t we offer flowers to the Lord Buddha at least He kept guarding the Meeteis of Yangon in the form human beings. Considering the evolution process and time span involves in the evolution process of Sanasham Dhiren ..........thank should dawn on Lord Buddha for he had not made them Chimpanzee out of the Meeteis in Yangon.

About the Author

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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