Friday, December 03, 2021

Bandh or not, Who owns Dimapur?

By EMN Updated: Dec 08, 2013 10:05 pm

Buno Iralu

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n December 3, I and some other people were treated like we were some law-defying criminals by the lathi-held, pan-chewing, unkempt and ill-mannered bandh enforcers at the Airport junction and Referral Hospital junction in Dimapur.
We had enough brains to know that December 3 wasn’t the day to be out on some joyride across Dimapur town. A family member was critically ill in hospital and so, the day before the bandh, I took the trouble of going to the DCC office to obtain a car pass for the next day. I was and am thankful that a car pass was handed to me, duly signed and stamped.My issue is, when I and another family whose relative was fighting for dear life in the ICU section in the same hospital already had car passes, why were we ordered to pull off the road unceremoniously and barked at in manners that defy description? Even after those bandh enforcers clearly studied our car passes and heard us explain to them that we were out for medical emergencies, why couldn’t they understand our point and let us go without having to let us stand there helpless and humiliated like we were in some foreign land? If it was a political and democratic undertaking, why was there only a particular community (at least the ones who surrounded us to decide what to do about us), firing off angry words in their own tongue, making endless telephone calls to some “bosses” on the other end in their own tongue and looking at us daggers like we had committed some unpardonable crime? Congress or NPF or whatever, aren’t there some more acceptable, transparent and democratic language that could be used on a day like that so that I or anyone else for that matter would know what was happening?
Did they have to wield their lathis at us and tell us that they would smash our cars right there and then? Was it right or even necessary for them to demand that we open the food containers we had in the cars to show them and enlighten them about what curry or soup was in each container? When our hearts were already heavy from the thought of a dear one’s end coming soon, to hear words like, “Gor manu tu muri ase koile, kile birai ase? Hospital te thakibi na!”made our tummies churn. Why couldn’t they understand that family members and the patients needed to eat too and someone needed to bring food for them? What did they mean by saying, “Itu rasta te aru nahibi dei, ahile khabo!”
I can go on and on because a lot of other things were also said to us. We were threatened with all kinds of unreasonable and senseless ultimatums.
What is this thing about passing threats to law-abiding, Dimapur-loving people that seem to be becoming a way of life for some people in Dimapur?
I am Dimapur born and bred. As a little girl, I grew up feeling free, safe and hopeful, and yes, very proud of Dimapur. Since my school was in the heart of town, everyday I would hop onto a rickshaw or an autorickshaw to go to school and return home on one. All of us brothers and sisters and schoolmates knew most of the rickshaw-wallas by name, at least the ones who plied between our school and our village (Nagarjan then). There were many instances when these rickshaw-pullers would volunteer to take us to our home when they saw us walking with our bulky school bags.
I remember how, as innocent and free-spirited youngsters, whenever houses were gutted by fire in the Railway colony or in Burma Camp during the windy season, we would sometimes rush to the spot of activity on foot, in chappals, to simply be part of the happenings in our dear, safe and peaceful town. Horror to us then was watching thatched houses going up in flames. There were hardly any other stories, save the occasional news of some drunken men being run over by a speeding train, that sent chills down our spines. Fear meant sitting huddled together around the fireplace at night and exchanging ghost stories and scaring each other by pretending to hear some imaginary sound nearby. Will kids today ever see such days again? What will happen to our young ones today who have not only heard stories but actually seen violent and barbaric acts being executed right before their eyes once too many times? Aren’t we already noticing the apathetic attitude many young people walk around our town with today?
I can never forget the day the truck in which I was travelling was stopped abruptly at Purana Bazaar a couple of years ago. We were on our way to collect some building materials. Even that day, a group of young men speaking the same language that was spoken on December 3, demanded that we paid tax. I remember asking them about the what’s and why’s of that demand. I also remember how they began to argue among themselves right there in a tongue I did not understand. The discussion ended with one of them turning to our driver and saying, “Pichete itu raasta te nahibi dei. Ahile chepta kori dibo!” Who owns Dimapur? Why can’t I or anybody else roam free and safe if we haven’t broken any laws? Is it too much to ask for some sense of civility? Is it inappropriate to be concerned about the image of this town that I and many other well-meaning citizens consider ‘home’?
Like anyone else who grew up in Dimapur and who live in houses built on land bought legally or passed down lawfully by hard-working ancestors, I am possessive and protective of Dimapur town. I’ve always carried this feeling that I “own” Dimapur as much as Dimapur owned me. We share an attachment that goes beyond some mere sentiments. It is more a deep respect and regard that makes me react when I see and hear about too many things going awry and ugly in this town that made me. It is not about physical strength or money power or numbers or who makes the loudest noise in this town that decides who owns Dimapur. It is about right and wrong. It is about justice and injustice. It is about caring for and working towards the image and welfare of this town which has given so much and has still so much potential to give. A true son or daughter of Dimapur will not bring shame and dishonor to the image of Dimapur.
That same evening on December 3, I found a beggar sitting by the roadside with his begging bowl. When I dropped a ten Rupee note into his bowl, I heard him say, “Thank you”. Perhaps, it is time we stopped and picked up some good manners from beggars by the roadside and build Dimapur again.

By EMN Updated: Dec 08, 2013 10:05:36 pm