Whistleblower's musings... Then some trivia. Write to me at ranjanyumnam@gmail.com

Monday, September 27, 2004

Keep up the good work, Indira

Recently I met with Indira Goswami, the Jnanpith Award winner and the face of literary prowess of the Northeast, at her residence in the North Campus in New Delhi. She is currently the Head of the Modern Indian Languages of Delhi University, where she probably teaches the Assamese literature. The purpose of our meeting was a planned publication of one of her short stories in the magazine for which I work, and for an interview.

We had a long chat about her works, life, and profession - invariably touching upon the issues of Northeast. What struck me was her simplicity; there was none of the attitude problem that celebrities throw up whenever journalist talks to them.

Looking around, I saw many framed photographs hanging on the walls with her momentous achievements captured forever in them: her receiving the Jnanpith Award, her participation in the Southeast Asian writers’ conclave, her mingling with the movers and shakers, including politicians, industrialists and of course writers, some of them quite the opposite of her in personality. From one of the photographs, Resident Megalomaniac, VS Naipaul was peering down, his big egos prominently palpable.

VS Naipaul has become so obsessed with himself that his works have become a caricature of himself. His latest book, Magic Seeds, is a banal one that would not have seen the light of the day had he not been its author. Like Naipaul writers have a way of slipping in the quality of their creative output as they age. Khuswant Singh, one of the finest writers, is suffering from the same cyclical failure. Increasingly his writings, of which I was a fan, have turned into third-rate ramblings of a dirty old man with nothing to write about, except for his scotch bottle. Read his childish column in the newspaper, you will agree with me. There are times when I think school essays are much better than his mindless compositions.

Indira Goswami, it seems, is at his creative peak at the moment. She is writing two novels right now, in which she recounts one interesting anecdote from her time as the Provost of the PG Women’s Hostel of DU.

One of the girls was refusing to leave the hostel during the vacation, and a crisis erupted with the warden and other administrators having reached their wits’ end. When Indira finally came to know about it, she took the girl along for a private session with her, all the other staff of the hostel ordered to go out of their earshot. Now, the sobbing girl told her the real reason why she was not willing to go home: she was scared that her father would rape her!

She spoke highly of our own MK Binodini Devi. Ratan Thyam, ditto. What should I say? I have no appropriate words.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Deconstructing UNIKAS

I went to the UNIKAS' annual freshers Meet recently only to storm out of the auditorium hall with feelings of anger and hurt. In case you haven't heard of this organisation, it is a students' union of Manipuri students hailing from Kakching and studying in Delhi.

The very idea behind the existence of this organisation is flawed. If every district or leikai in Manipur starts going the UNIKAS way, we will have a multitude of micro organisations in the Capital, and of course I would find myself belonging to Wangkhei-KAS. Similarly students from Uripok will have their Uripok-KAS and those from Khurai their own Khurai union and so forth.

Ours is a small state, and at this point of time we should be promoting the unity of all the Manipuris, instead of distancing ourselves from one another in our own holier-than-thou cocoons.

At the UNIKAS function which I attended, I almost felt left out and began to see myself as an outsider. The irony is that I was a Meitei and so were all the members of the UNIKAS.

UNIKAS is an organisation that serves no purpose at all, other than alienating one Manipuri from the other.

I believe there is an organisation called MSAD that aims to bring all Manipuri students in Delhi under one platform, irrespective of one’s place of birth.