How I missed my best friend wedding
Henkhokai (Kakai) Singsit
I was on my way to the university when the phone was frantically buzzing in my pants.
It was from the president of my organisation, KSO GHQ, Pu. Peter mate. The voice at the other end was peremptory instructing me to go Phaitol-Jiribam to conduct the Kso Tamenglong district election.
I was in quandary as my best friend wedding was to be held on the 2nd of November, 2012. I explained my inability to my president who curtly told me that I was the only one free at the moment as all my other colleagues were occupied with some other important engagement.
It was the call of duty for which I have been sworn to keep it. The date of the election had been fixed and it was mandatory on our part that at least two members of the head quarter team be present to conduct and oversee the electioneering process.
I tried to reason with my president. But the ‘Die was already cast’ and was presented to me as a ‘fait accompli’. Another colleague, Thangboigangte, Secy. relief and rehabilitation, had already left for the destination. I was to assist him.
No amount of pestering and haggling could turn the scales in my favour. What about my obligation towards my friend who had high expectation of my participation. My absence would tantamount to severing of my friendship with him. It was the 30th of October 2012. I was told to proceed the next day itself.
Vikramjeet is a bosom friend of mine and we have known each other since 2006 when I frequented Damdei Christian College, Taloulong as a member of Tsa sadar hills. He is from Sekmai, new market locality. The day we met we became fast friend as we synced in many ways.
A gallivant like me, reckless and carefree – we became fast friends after the first encounter. Our slogan was life is short so one should enjoy to the hilt. This ill-conceived sense of hedonism almost became my undoing.
Many times, I slept over at his home and became well acclimatised with all his family members and the locales.
My circle of friends with the local people increased by leaps and bounds after my encounter with him. And my sojourn increased and became more and more frequent.
From the hindsight, might be the centripetal pull of the famous Sekmai brew was hard to elude. Then it was all binges and carousing till one reached the climax of fantasy and hallucination. Family, education and home - I cared two straws. Life became a drift between semi consciousness and a figment of imagination.
No amount of admonition or homily from my family members could spruce me up. Fortunately, sanity prevailed over me and I swerved my ways and wonts.
It was not too late and I decided to go for higher education. And here I am with three master’s degree - alive and yet kicking.
On the hindsight, I pity many of my friends who could not escape from the rut of pleasure and enjoyment and many of them had to wilt to the pitfalls.
The expansion of friend circle was concomitant with the increase in the frequency of invitation for weddings, festivals, funeral rites and even at baby’s christening. Every ceremony at Sekmai was top notch.
I was nonplussed at Sekmai people’s propensity for fun and jamboree.
They were simple and amiable. They spoke skewed Meitei dialect which was unintelligible to me at the outset. Slowly I mastered it and could mimic it flawlessly.
By this time I had reached the university but my bond with Sekmai people though still strong but became peripheral. All affairs were mutual. They also participated in my family ceremonies. I normallyinvited them at Christmas celebration to savour the famous pork porridge which they craved after.
In the course of time this summer-friendship crystallized into obligation and commitments which one was bound to conform to. To remain truant in a friend’s wedding was considered a cardinal sin and an act of animosity.
I was in the horns dilemma. What was going to be my alibi for this unwarranted absenteeism? I was all out of guesses.
Finally, I decided to break this black tiding to the groom with an apologetic tone.
As anticipated my friend, the groom, was vituperative and was profusely ranting at me from the other end of the phone. But, I managed to reason with him about my predicament with the promise to make good after my return.
He was mollified but, the worst was yet to begin. I had just dropped the bomb-shell.
The night was a flurry of abusive calls from all my friends –Tombung, Johnsy, Eeyai, Opendro, Muba, Mangi, commando Dong and Ngamba. The ranting and the accusation continued the whole night. Sheepishly, I had to bear all the invectives as I was the proverbial dog in the manger. It was not their fault.
I was a liability, undependable and I deserved it. I guess they were all tipsy.
Laden with guilt, the next morning I embarked on my journey and reached Phaitol, Jiribam at Dusk and was accosted by KSO leaders of the district.
Exhausted I made haste to the house of my host,Seilun Singson, the president of Kso tamenglong district. I was also awaited by the local elders.
The air at Phaitol village was festive as the district level Kut festival was to be hosted there, the morrow. It was just a stone throw distance from the house of my host. The massive preparations for festival rendered a dizzying concoction of jarring music and cacophony and robbed me of my good sleep.
The Kut committee invited me to witness the built-up for the celebration and offer pep talks to the Miss Kut contestants. I spurned the overture on the pretext that I was too tired from the journey and wanted to rest. They left me for good with the promise that they will come in the morning.
As assured they came in the morning inviting me to be one of the VIPs. I was to deliver an exhortation speech for the student’s community. The thought of me sitting on the dais and delivering a speech gave me goose bumps.
Now my mind was furiously working to find a pretext for escape. With none, I again feigned sickness from the woeful journey maintaining that all my bones are pell-mell from the bumpy ride.
They bought it, aware of the rotten condition of Imphal-Jiri road.
One of the elder gave me a frowning look and told me to freshen up for the night session. Oh! What the hell! I sensed he knew my bluff.
Come the night - the same torturous solicitation continued and my uncompromising shaming of sickness remained obstinate as before. The committee wanted me as one among the panels of judges for the Miss contestants but my dogged refusal finally paid off.
One elder even went to the extent of chiding me for being so effeminate. Vividly his words were, “What kind of young man are you, so fragile and sickly from just one road trip”. But they left me in peace with no further hassle.
The election was conducted the next day as scheduled and the day after, I left for Imphal. On the first break, I made straight to Sekmai to cut some loose ends.
By the time all my friends had come to terms with my dilemma and were by and large charitable. I visited the bride and paid my dues.
Obligated, I threw a party as penalty of absence, drank ourselves till insanity and in the true spirit of friendship and forgiveness. The hatchet was buried forever.
After all what are friends for!
The writer is former Inf.& Publicity Secy. Of Kuki Students Organisation – GHQ and can be reached via kakaisingsit.gmail.com/ fb account kakaisingsit or singsitkakai