Manipur in 2024: "Small moments of refusal, silence & mourning"—and poetry—bring hope

In the ongoing crisis, some activists and scholars from the two communities have taken up silence as a choice. As violence continues, their resistance lies in their small refusals

Indian National Congress held a maun satyagraha (silent protest) against the BJP-led government at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, in 2023 over the Manipur crisis (photo courtesy @INCIndia/Twitter)
Indian National Congress held a maun satyagraha (silent protest) against the BJP-led government at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, in 2023 over the Manipur crisis (photo courtesy @INCIndia/Twitter)
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Soibam Haripriya

Over the months, images from relief camps of groups of happy gaggles of children doing the most normal everyday things in drastically changed circumstances were shared by many friends as fundraisers and appeals for peace in Manipur.

Violence continues even as one year ends and another begins.

The sense of alienation, where Indians know (and care) more about the wars and conflicts elsewhere in the world as opposed to the one in their own nation-state, cannot be more absurd than it already is.

In the ongoing crisis, some people, activists and scholars from the two communities, have taken up silence as a choice. Others refuse to participate in the usual format of talk shows that pitch one ethnic voice against the other—refusing to be arsenal, choosing instead to be part of non-publicised, non-recorded conversations with smaller groups of people across identities and stances.

Small moments of refusal, silence and mourning, and people in the interstices of identities who cultivate and nurture friendships, love and intimacies beyond stringent dictates and boundaries—they bring hope for the year to come.

Fall, fall

like fallen angels

against the dictates

of the gods

For what good is love

Unless you fight — Fate

Divinity

Even gods had

fallen from the sky

falling in love

In love you need to die

a little

Little, little deaths

Until the final blow

So, when you fall

in love

Fall, like fallen angels

against the dictates

of the gods

Fall, like autumn

Unanimously as all leaves

decide to give up

the replenishment of roots

Fall, because

to fall

is not to be defeated

To rise

To raise

is not all good

Look, what

raised flags have done

In love

it is good

to fall

from the grace

of your caste

Fall, as when

you learn to walk

Stammer

as when you search

for words to tell

your beloved of love

Fall, because

leaves plunge to earth

making beds for lovers

Fall, because

it is only sheer luck

that love begets love

SOIBAM HARIPRIYA is a poet and teaches at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. Views are personal

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