English language has become international language. In Manipur also, children are now taught in English, especially in private schools from the Kindergarten stage with English nursery rhymes that are global. The good thing about studying English language is that students are exposed to a range of knowledge, especially on the net whose language is English. The study of English literature provides them with creativity to approach their lives and helps them to build experience while enjoying as a recreational activity. Because, English-language writers explore human experience and imagination in their prose, poetry, short stories and dramas.

Lucky are those who have never questioned their birth sex. This year 2017 has seen a public explosion on the uncertainty of gender identity ie people who don’t know if they are male or female. They are known as non-binary people or genderqueer (they prefer to be called non-binary), who have now come out in the open with their own ‘Pride flag’ created in 2014, with horizontal stripes (from top to bottom) – yellow, white, purple and black. The ‘gender community’ LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender) has various flags to represent various identities. Pride flags are symbols used at their Pride parades for self identification.

I’ve been wondering how such a powerful Iraqi army with the modern state-of- the-art firing power, and 13 times larger than ISIL troops, has been unable to trounce such a small insurgent group that is taking over their country! Only now, the Iraqi army backed with American air power, special forces, and Shia militia, are able to press forward towards Mosul, the second largest city after Baghdad, where in a mosque, ISIL leader Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria in 2014. UN estimated in January 2017 that 1,238 civilians were killed in Ninevah Province alone.

The philosophy of marriage has been a beautiful institution, bringing a young man and a woman into partnership leading to a family life for regulating sexual behaviour, reproduction and nurturing the offspring. It was meaningful to talk about the medieval aesthetics of marriage as a delightful procreative art and integrity of marriage. The modern civilisation where individual freedom is a coveted commodity has caused contemporary marriages very fragile. The perceptions and relationship of marriage are no more ethical, bringing chaos in the family.

Doctors can read the mind of the 'dead', who a decade ago, would have been certified dead, cremated or buried. Mind is the invisible part of thought, which is processed by the brain. Half a century ago, while I was a young doctor, we certified patients dead when their hearts stopped beating. I had another confirming sign to look for to clinch the diagnosis. That was to look at the arteries in the retina inside the eyeball. They should be empty of blood. But many a time it was a bit of hit-and- miss.

It’s hard not to cavil. It sticks in craw. it’s a craze that women in the whole retirement shebang want to start a family. I know old age is not always old age for someone who has a healthy mind and physique, untouched by the pillages of time. I only felt old two years ago, which I noted down in my diary. Since then I’ve counting the days when I’ll kick the bucket.

There are many people in the world who think they know the truth, different from the truth of others. There are people who prefer to believe in a story just because it was believed by the tribe’s ancestors rather than accept uncertainty, such as a beautiful heaven above where all the virtuous souls go. I don’t criticise them. We are free to believe what we want. Only that, If Copernicus, Newton, Einstein and Stephen hawking had not deviated from their ancestors’ accumulated knowledge, our knowledge would have been stagnant.

’m not in the habit of seeking banana skins on which to slip. Or, anti-social to a pathological degree. I’m just imperfect. The world we live in is also imperfect. The present is built on a foundation of a flawed past and the future will rest on the remains of the present. We come and die, thickening the outer layer of the earth. As we get old we summon past events to our mind; some are pleasant and some are not. This we call memory that never dies.

Fashion is something we associate everyday for the ‘feel-good’ factor. Among the Meiteis in Manipur, wearing the humble “khudei” (loin cloth), we choose the colour and design. This however, does not blend entirely with Shakespeare, who wrote: “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”- Hamlet.

The coming of a New Year inevitably brings on many past experiences to reflect upon. One of the lesser pleasures of Christmas this year was to watch my ageing wife to work so hard to celebrate Christmas twice with the same verb as my daughter, her husband, and the grandchildren could not make it on Christmas day because they had to work on that day.

The rain had stopped. The clouds had parted. Christmas was over. It was a pleasure watching our children and grandchildren, who have no affiliation to Christianity, opening their presents by the illuminated Christmas tree in our lounge, after the traditional Christmas turkey lunch, while I was rearranging my thoughts.