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...