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Blessed are not the child with silver spoons but with the grace of making it better. Curse are not the one with half meal a day but with the disgrace of making it worse. Success and failure happens to both, we are all the same, only a different package we comes in.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

To Lakhipur With A Purpose

          I was preparing for Tanglei Festival 2018 since the 2017's edition of the festival ended. Along with a team of young, committed and risk takers we were burning all possible lamps and oils to make the third edition of the festival by Oinam Sports Association as grand as we could in the name of Ibudhou Tangleibung, the village deity of Oinam. But after all the preparations and tight schedules I had to drop to attain an after wedding ceremony for one of my besties, Mr. Sandeep Kongjengbam Singh. The blessing is Tanglei Festival was postponed from 4th February to 2nd of March, 2018 and I had my chance to attain the ceremony.

          We were Lukhendro Keisham, Sukumar Sorokhaibam and Rajeshkumar Nongthombam. Sukumar brought his car for the trip and the only man behind wheels for the entire trip, he gets sick to be an occupant along the hilly roads. As we head start from Imphal on 21st January, 2018 the first thing we notice was the ongoing construction work of railway tunnels along National Highway No. 37 to connect Imphal and Jiribam. We stop by at Nungba for lunch. This is the town where almost all the passengers use to get down, eat and have all things cleared for the other halve of the journey to Jiribam or beyond. Here, I met the old grannie I knew more than 15 years ago while travelling to Jiribam for the first time with my mom. My family knows her quite well as she was born and brought up in my village, Oinam until she got married to the neighbouring village, Keinou. She still owns and runs the same hotel we had lunch back then. As kind as the one I knew her she had all the memories as fresh as the moments were, reminds me of my mom.

          Sandeep came in person to pick us up at Jiribam town. He took us to the Manipuri Guest House which is located just in front of his house. It was constructed by the Meitei community of Lakhipur especially for Manipuris visiting the place and around. Found that it was inaugurated by the than Hon'ble Member of Parliament Dr. Thokcom Meina on 17th January, 2011. With betel nut trees surrounding the campus of the guest house the place was calm, clean and well maintained with spacious rooms. The house is maintained by a committee including members from various Meitei villages in Lakhipur. We all hopped in one room.

          We attended the after wedding ceremony, "Loukhatpa" on 22nd February. Sandeep and his wife Anupama were married a year ago at the bridegroom's house but without the blessings from bride's family. As a customary to Meitei tradition Anupama's family invited the couple and the families of Sandeep at the bride's home as a mark of acceptance and recognition to their wedded relationship. In presence of the families, friends and community priests the acceptance ceremony was held with the most complete formalities. A feast was served after the ceremony. The families of Anupama were than invited to Sandeep's home the day after on 24th February. A feast was served again.

          Apart from the events we came for we met some old friends and made new ones too. The place, the people and the food made us felt like home. It was my first experience to visit a tea garden. Once our car broke down near the Sadarghat Bridge in the middle of a tight traffic in Silcher town. Since the bridge was under renovation half the road was blocked. Thanks to Sandeep's uncle whom we met coming from the other direction and who stopped by to enquire. He responded to our call with some mechanics. We replaced a new battery for the car. Then we visited a mall, had KFC and did some hush hush shopping as we are leaving for Imphal the next day.

          Rajeshkumar Nongthombam was the historical intellect in our team. His appealing and curiosity to know the culture and history of Meitei community in this part of Assam made him the most welcomed guest among the locals. After all we share the same culture and tradition as Meiteis. The people had the same feeling of togetherness and belongings as those of the Meiteis in Manipur.

          Those warm and pleasant gesture by Sandeep's family was priceless. It melted our hearts. We left for Imphal on the morning of 25th February. Sandeep's father bought us some local fishes caught from the rivers around and gifts from his mother and Anupama. We reach home during the late afternoon. Sorry for Sukumar Sorokhaibam that he had to rely on a very limited types of food as he was on medication for an stomach infection the entire trip. But deserves all the cheers for driving us back safe and sound to our respective homes.

          Couldn't be more fun and memorable had not we made a friend and a family like Sandeep's. His straight forward dad we call uncle, his kind hearten mom we call aunty, his sweet wife Anu, his well mannered brothers and the entire Konjengbam family made us felt like home and treated us like their own sons. They were the most special host I ever met. Doubt is will I ever make up with the love and hospitality they showed towards us when they visit us in Manipur.


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