U Blei u la iap bad dei ma ngi ba pyniap ia u. Ngi pyniap ia u khyndiat, man ka sngi sha Lumchnong, sha Nongtalang, sha Byrnihat, sha Shallang. Kat shaba leit ka tuid ka snam jong u, bad ka ai skai kum ha Lukha, ha Umtru, ha Umtyngar.
To ngin ia dwai, khapbrip khmat beit, wat phai sha ka mon ne sha ka diang, pyndem khlieh bad shu dwai beit. Phah ki jingdwai, ki jingtieng, jingsyier jong phi sha U Blei u ba la iap, U Blei uba la dam. Dwai ba un pynriewspah ia phi na ka jingpra jong ka met jong u. To phin iai nang kiew nang roi na ka jingiap. Amen.
That Ganeshguri giddiness. That time once when a scrolling LED sign, screening useless info, astounded a child’s mind. This was the nineties, when the French Motor Company was at the edge of the city, the same place where I saw the Fiat Uno for the very first time, when I saw something different from either Maruti or Ambassador. It was a time when the Ganesh Mandir at Khanapara, then by the highway – not under a flyover – waited for our Christian children’s coins. Maybe it was an old hangup from olden days, or maybe it was just fun tossing money in there, throwing around cash. That time of auto rides when no Mawlai ones plied the road. That thrill of polluted air through the hair. That joy of unpacking a toy at home. My father’s home where we spoke Khasi. A school vacation home, a home where I first saw MTV, a home with fans and marble floors, a home with mosquito nets over the beds where I was a tiger in the City Zoo, a home with foul tasting water. Everytime I breeze through Guwahati onto the airport, I try to recollect the name of that neighbourhood where that house sits in, now someone else’s home. Now, offering someone else those things.
It is our failure and not your own.
We killed you long before your death;
We killed you with expectation of high offices, high salaries, high horses.
We drowned you in the pool of Narcissus, we suffocated you in our charnel house –
And we call this ‘cowardly’ and the ‘easy way out’ after we throttled every single dream;
Took every single idea, dropped it on its head, shattered it.
You swore a bucolic covenant, in dark holy taverns (places more honest than churches, mosques and temples), where many souls have come and gone.
It brought you to people like yourself, made you friends too; until it turned on you,
until it too started squeezing out your sanity.
And all that while, we never stopped sneering.
After this suffocation, we wanted you to forget the happiness of childhood impossibilities, the mirth of being free and wanted you to get a job, a uniform, a routine, an order –
And we call such things ‘success’ and we will never accept anything else other than this.
All souls return to the One, they say. So be it, you are there too then. You have broken none of the laws of passage, you have defied no dogma. No gates are closed to you now.
Shapoh ka bos SPTS ki rung khrui ki nongbylla, ha ka por hynniew baje mynmiet. Ki dur ki thangiong bad ithait. Ki jain ki sma syep, biri, kyiad bad ki ia phuh samrkhie hapdeng ki. Ki ia “jokes” hapdeng ki. Napoh ka bos SPTS nga iohi ia ki kong die jhur, harud surok. Ki khun ki iarap katba ki lah, wat la ki dang lung ialade kum ki jhur. Ki stad kloi ha madan, ki nang ia ki buit iew bad ki ktien khayi.
Kong, Bah, Hep dei phi ba tei ia kane ka shnong! Dei ki ksah jong phi ba pynieng ia ki paia, dei ka mynsiem jong phi ba pynim ia ka bad ka mon jong phi ba ai bor ia ka. Kane ka nongbah ka skhem ym da ki kti u sahep ne DC ne ministar, hynrei na ki jong phi.
I come back from Jowai with a gold ring on my finger- I’ve never ever had one before- and I think about its weight, workmanship, its symbolic importance before society. I walk down the same roads as I have done a thousand times before and something is very different about them now. But they aren’t, I know. It is just a layer, a new skin that has refracted the sights coming into me. I am going to my mother’s house- first time after my wedding- and I hail a cab going to Polo. I had always, in earlier years, avoided that route because a part of me believed that the Bazaar was only ever the haunt of decrepit dkhars and dark-eyed CRPF thugs. My shiny gold ring makes me think about them again. Onwards, onwards then to my mother’s home! Sharing an auto to Mawlai; its seats soaked in bidi smoke and sweat, its occupants swearing and intoxicated, boxed in like fish.