Monday, December 1, 2008

Gold, Copper, and Silver

You might be wondering how I am what I am today and how it came about. It was on one of our expeditions to the marshy lands that this happened.

My husband and I turned east to the nameless village after visiting the Lake. We were tired and were anxious to reach home as it was nearing sunset. Sunset to dusk--was it the magical hour that was behind what happened that day? I will never know. We had to cross a small footbridge across the river that separated the nameless village from the western lands. As we neared the bridge, we saw a flurry of activity near the river bank. A group of men were digging at a huge mound by the river. What was the hullabaloo all about?

My husband scampered ahead just as the men found a huge stone statue inside the mound. It was a serpent-dragon, a lairen. I was still on the red-painted bridge when it happened. In all the excitement of finding the statue inside the mound, a workman accidentally chipped off a tiny piece from the eye of the statue. The chip caught the rays of the setting sun and looked like gold. As though it were alive, it left a stream of gold in its wake as it made straight for my husband's eye and got lodged there...He screamed in pain as workers left their tools and hurried by his side. And I, immobile on the bridge, as I watched helplessly...

(to be continued)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Desert Adventure-II

As night fell, the sheikh disappeared with his caravan. I couldn't remove the image of his most valuable cargo from my mind. It haunted me. Resigned to being alone for the night, I made my way to the ruins again. Hardly had I taken a few steps when an old hag came tottering by. She was bent with age and clothed in a purple robe. She wore a hood of the same color and carried a staff along with her. She was furious! Somebody had run away with her magic talisman and she was in search of the culprit.

She asked me of the talisman's whereabouts and asked me if I had seen anything unusual. Although the sheikh's caravan was on my mind, somehow, the two incidents didn't connect in my mind. So I replied in the negative. Besides, she didn't describe how the talisman looked like. How was I to know it was indeed the sheikh's emerald lady with the long finger-like toes?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Desert Adventure-I

I flew my aircraft and yet I watched me flying it--this gave me an eerie feeling of detachment. I was in the picture, but was also the observer. The sky turned orange. It was because of the sun, which had turned into a rich crimson orb. Even as I watched, the sun split across its diameter as if trying to swallow my airplane, and as soon as that thought struck me, the sun, right on cue, started chasing me all over the sky. Pacman flashed in my memory...the sun was Pacman, and I had to escape. I couldn't stop flying nearer the sun, and soon my plane was engulfed in smoke from the heat. I crash landed it on the desert, and jumped out with a few scratches.

"Lucky to be alive," I thought. And then, the wreck of my plane turns into a train and starts chasing me all over the desert. It was crazy! How can a plane morph into a train? Even crazier, how can a train run without tracks? Isn't it supposed to derail and crash? I ran, and I outran the train! Wow! I did it!

I stopped for a breath among some ruins. After some time, I peeked out to see the train sputtering off to the distance. Heaving a sigh of relief, I ventured out into the desert again. What was that in the horizon? Was it a mirage? No, it was indeed a caravan, coming my way.

 Camels led the way followed by men carrying palanquins all in a row. As it turned out, the caravan belonged to a sheikh. It was headed for an undisclosed location in the middle of the desert. The sheikh was kind enough to give me some food and wine (of course!). And he told me that I must not tell anyone that I met him ever. He made me swear on my hunting knife. I bit the blade of the knife and swore that if I told anyone of our meeting ever, I would die by my own hunting knife. Pleased, the sheikh then decided to show me what he was carrying--the one precious thing he wanted to hide from the rest of the world (and from all magicians).

He led me to one of the palanquins. It was a gilded one, like the rest, and had a curtain of pink gauze. The curtain parted. I was struck dumbfounded by what I saw. The most beautiful woman I had ever seen (and perhaps the most beautiful woman in all the universe) was right in front of my eyes. She was clothed in silk of emerald hues and wore emeralds and diamonds. Her hands were fair and slender, and her rings shone in the dim light. I then saw her toes. They were unlike human toes, for they too, were long and slender, just like her fingers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Yai-- a very special uncle. My earliest memories of him are associated with his black football shoes that he aired out every morning on the verandah, just as his keds are aired out in the picture.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Granma-- Ima Apokpi

On June 17, 2008, my Grandmother passed away. Ima apokpi, Imapokpi, Mapokpi. The last time I saw her was in November 2007. As I genuflected in front of her to seek blessings before my 9AM flight, I had said, "When I come back next, Mapokpi, I'll see you free of all ailments." "Yes" that's what she said...True to word, when I went home to Manipur on June 21, she was indeed free from sickness...

She left in the quiet of the hour that precedes dawn. Without a word, without visiting anyone even in the misty land of dreams, she left...composed, fully at peace at last, free from her confines of the home dialysis kit and the heavy load she had to carry in her abdominal cavity all day through...oh Mapokpi, how you suffered for more than 9 months...Yai looks at your photo at 11:00 AM and says, "Baabu, come now, it's time to change the fluid, time for dialysis." Of course, you don't come. Mama says, "Ima, come and rebuke me as you used to, give me your guidance, come meet all the relatives and friends who have come to meet you." Of course, you don't say a word in reply. And Neshanti, your niece, the one you brought up like your own daughter after she lost her real mother in infancy, the one who never called anyone "Ima" before cries out for you, "Ho Ima, ho Ima" Of course, you remain silent. Chou...he just watches the goings on with pain. He goes to his bed on the pretext that he is exhausted. Turns towards the walls and sobs in silence. Sometimes he says "Ayo Ima" and then adds, "Ah, but my Ima is not there anymore." You know Ibenungshi (Ichesaabi) came and cried because she missed you the other day. I couldn't believe my eyes...apparently, you were missed even by neighbors. What to say of the others...I miss you a lot. I remember the smell of tobacco as you lulled me to sleep on hot afternoons when I was a child, I remember the way you told me stories of Bhim, of Nidra, of the toad that takes you beyond the Baitarani river... and the Mahabharat, and how you dozed off instead of lulling me, how I crept out to play with my anklets tucked up so as not to awaken you...I remember your words as though you said them just a moment ago...But Mapokpi, no anklet sound in the world can awaken you now as you lie sleeping your final sleep...Sweet dreams my Mapokpi. Your chariot of flowers has long come bedecked to take you...ride well and be happy...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The way to the Maibam pond- How I persuaded K-o-e to go with me

"I guess I'd like to go but I am not invited. Do you know the host? Can I gatecrash?"

"Well...there is no host, so technically, you don't need an invite. I suppose it's open to all faeries of the neighborhood. You too belong to hereabouts, so I guess you qualify."

"Brilliant! Will you take me to the Maibam pond or at least show me the way?"

"I can come with you, but in that case, you will have to make me your official familiar."

"Only witches have familiars! I am an elf!"

"Well...whatever! It's an offer: take it or leave it!"

I didn't think K-o-e would be so ambitious or argumentative. I was already beginning to get tired of the "well..." and that signature pause lasting a full minute. How did she manage the timing or come up with the concept of the familiar? And what did she know of magic anyway? At that time, little did I know that her mother Oringe was the familiar of the most powerful wizard of Pungdon and that she had inherited special powers by merit of having been the offspring of two powerful, it was in her genes anyway. I had to think fast and I had to get to that party.

"You know what? Since I am an elf, it'd be against tradition to have a familiar. But tell you what? Let's be friends as two individuals bound by magic's thread. What say?"

She was silent. Her feline face was so inscrutable. Right then, I really wanted to know what she was thinking. In my mind, I saw words floating around in a haze. Before I knew it, I was mouthing the words, "Tinkle tinkle, zingle zangle, mind's eye, see words untangle." And then I could feel her thoughts as though they were mine. I spoke, "K-o-e, I really like you and I feel it'd be an honor if you agreed to be my friend. I'd love to share my adventures with you, and understand magic together. If it's any consolation or help, let me tell you that I have never met any other faerie folk or magical folk besides you and the Leprechaun. Him, I don't know too well. At least I have known you and seen you from my previous life-form. Will you be my friend?"

"I actually thought the idea of being a familiar is pretty cool. Anyhow, I like the idea of being your friend too. I will be your friend." And her tail swished to and fro as she said this.

"Thank you K-o-e!" I shook her tiny paw with my now-tinier hand.

"In that case, I guess we will go together to the Maibam pond."

"Yes indeed! And we will have fun there!"


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"What are you staring at me for? Have you never heard a cat speak?"

And when Kohl-in-one-eye (K-o-e) spoke, I was taken aback. But then things were going crazily out-of control and beyond my wildest, I guessed it must be the normal way of things.

"Well, I am an elf now, as you can see...and I just discovered I can fly. Did you see the Leprechaun around?"

"Oh yeah...he was shuffling down to the magical pool for the party. Aren't you going?"

"What magical pool, what party?"

"You see, tonight happens to be Lamta-gi Thangja. As you know, all faeries have a party all night, right from sunset till dawn. One of the hot-spots hereabouts for this year's party is the Maibam pond, right behind yonder wood. That, my dear, is the magical pond you should be going to...if you want to catch up with the faerie-folk, and if you want to be part of the "in" crowd."

Did I see K-o-e wink? Was it the light? I can never be sure. I was getting tired, and lonely. I wanted to know what the faeries do on Lamta-gi-Thangja nights...I wanted to know how to get back to being a human, or at least know how to be a true-blue elf...sigh...I knew it was going to be a long night ahead.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The flame and the moth

The moth is besotted. It wants to be with this shining light that is the flame. It doesn't matter that the flame hurts it...the pain doesn't register. The flame is both the need and the want. And so the moth goes closer and closer each time, almost in a frenzy, until...

The flame doesn't call the moth. It doesn't need to. It shines so bright that moths get attracted to it. Its magnetic appeal hides the danger lurking to grab the moth unawares. Seemingly self-sufficient, but greedy in reality...the flame burns all that comes its way, moths included...rather, especially self-sacrificing moths. In a way, the flame is, because the moth feeds its hunger. The flame burns everything...until it burns itself out...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Aah! what next?

Being an elf is not so bad. Especially when you can do things that you only dreamed of doing while you were a human. Being an elf, I could realize that my elven name was in my mind, lying dormant until the magical moment of metamorphosis. And now what?

Kohl-in-one-eye the kitten was napping below the lemon tree. I sneaked past her, worried that she'd mistake me for a butterfly or a bird and come chasing...Well, her name was Kohl-In-One-Eye because she was born like that...her left eyelid was jet black like someone had applied you-know-what and forgot to do the other eye. She opened her eyes just then. Too late to sneak past, I contemplated flying off when I heard words, "What happened to you? Last I saw you, you were a human."

I blinked. Sure that must be my imagination. And then she spoke again.