Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Different Facets of Lamka

In a town that was so fashion conscious, it’s not very pleasant emerging from the outskirts sweated and sullen. I remember having to walk on foot to sell some quantities of yam to Zenhang Bazar. I had gone through tumultuous times fetching LPG cylinder from Lamka. Sometimes you have to fight your way through the wilderness of bus conductors, which entailed some delays and, of course, a visit to the police outpost. These are not uncommon when you live in the outskirts of Lamka. Nor did every resident of Lamka, who felt better off than us, feel pampered; even they had to walk on foot throughout the length and breath of the town. Unless they have the money to pay the auto rickshaw drivers.
The situation has not improved much. But a short visit to the town has made me believe that the Lamka of today is different than that of yesterday.
Public transport between Lamka and Imphal has been made more inclusive than what happened in the past. Jeeps carrying passengers between Lamka and Tollen Village or even through Kangvai, has been pressed (or did it happen spontaneously?) into service. Some of the Jeep Operators can even be negotiated into entering nearby villages on payment of extra cash, something unimaginable ten years ago when conductors of Imphal-Lamka line buses, eyeing only for long distance passengers, considered us a menace to their business.
And inside Lamka, townbus service has covered the entire populated areas like Tuibuong, NewLamka, Mualkawi, Pearsonmun, Bungmual, Chiengkon, etc. Thus someone who has no vehicle of his/her own can now rely on small and swift town buses. Besides, going to Saikot is now made easy with the introduction of enlarged auto rickshaws that shuttle between Rengkai and Saikot, perhaps even beyond that point, I don't know.
Therefore, in spite of the rusts and the dusts that covers the once glamorous Lamka, function has has gradually taken precedence over form.
A question arises as to why now and not then? Is there something behind the scene that has been working at cross purposes. Preparing the ground for the D-Day? Another D-Day? A different strategy?
During my college days the atmosphere of Lamka and the ramparts was charged with hatred and all around there was 'tension', an English word every illeterate knew.
Even as tension was building up slowly but surely, no one seemed willing to take serious note of the turn of events beyond issuing diktats in terms of do's and don'ts. The fact that the devil was right at the doorstep was proved beyond doubt, yet people from the corridors of power told the helpless citizens that 'groups of armed men had been watching over them'. On such and such nights. At other times some young men carrying worn out M-16s paid visits to satellite villages, had sumptuous meals. And then left with their guns. I wondered whether propoganda rumours were all that had been manufactured for defence of the vulnerable. Another day gone by, with news about kidnappings and murders. Innocents died one by one. And when the ultimate struck, some people dismissed the victims as 'that community of gamblers'. Ironically it was they themselves, who had to stand face to face with the devil, the very next moment. A musical tract by Ana Johnson in the West some years later, aptly describes the situation that prevailed then, and is apparently returning in greater proportion now, in a place the artist doesn't know, and may never know in her lifetime unless one of the perpetrators of the imminent threat, introduces it to her:

"We Are"
See the devil on the doorstep now (my oh my)
Telling everybody oh just how to live their lives
Sliding down the information highway
Buying in just like a bunch of fools
Time is ticking and we can't go back (my oh my)
What about the world today
What about the place that we call home
We’ve never been so many
And we've never been so alone
You keep watching from your picket fence
You keep talking but it makes no sense
You say we're not responsible
But we are, we are
You wash your hands and come out clean
Fail to recognise the enemies within
You say we're not responsible
But we are, we are, we are, we are
One step forward making two steps back (my oh my)
Riding piggy on the bad boys back for life
Lining up for the grand illusion
No answers for no questions asked
Lining up for the execution
Without knowing why
It’s all about power then
Take control
Breaking the rule
Breaking the soul
They suck us dry till there’s nothing left
My oh my, my oh my
What about the world today
What about the place that we call home
We' ve never been so many
And we've never been so alone.... So alone
It’s all about power then (we are)
Take control (we are)
Breaking the rule (we are, we are)
Breaking the soul (we are)
They suck us dry till there’s nothing left (we are, we are)
My oh my, my oh my
We areWe are (its all )
We areWe are, we are (take control)
We areWe are
It’s all about power
Then take control
click here to watch the music video: