Dr Sadhana Ningthoujam
The untimely death of Bijaya Yumlembam at Shija Hospital and Research Institute, Langol due to Covid-19 on the 12th April 2021 (Wednesday) was a blow to all of us who were closely associated with her; it was so sudden and tragic that we could not accept the reality for quite some time. Now let me travel through memory lane on her life story as far as I can recollect. She joined service in All India Radio, Imphal as Transmission Executive on the 19th April 1989 and was promoted to Programme Executive in 2003. Before joining AIR, she was employed as a casual announcer of Western music in AIR; she worked at AIR, Silchar for nearly 5 years there before the promotion to Programme Executive in 2003. She was a highly professional and knowledgeable official that she was given charge to look after various sections of programmes such as music, Naharolgi Khonjel, Wari, English talk, women’s program. She was an official in charge at the Asian Broadcasting Corporation’s-Folk Music Festival at Colombo Sri Lanka, where she accompanied Manipuri folk singer Mayenglambam Manka. She also promoted Thokchom Lansana Chanu folk singer and she accompanied her to Beijing. She loves to promote talented girl child and youth.
Bijaya was my childhood friend. During our school time in Little Flower School, we enrolled ourselves in Laura Vicuna club, during summer and winter vacations, we Bijaya, myself along with Salesian sisters of Little Flower School visited some villages to find out their acute problems; we were in 7th standard, we had helped a blind girl who was brought from a tribal village and admitted her at RMC Hospital, Imphal, got her eye operated and thus cured her eyesight. During her hospital stay, we used to cook food at home and served her requirements and stayed beside her in turn wise manner as a part of giving company to her. We could do it because we were supported by our school’s Salesian sisters under our club Laura Vicuna’s activities. During our holiday times I used to knit woollen sweaters and jerseys for the children home (50 of them), stitched clothes and gave it away to needy people. So my holiday was all occupied in such activities.
We have co-ordinated with each other in club activities and worked together among our like- minded friends inculcated from home and from the School. I still remember the Science Exhibition competition, when we had moulded model out of the wet mud taken from our school pond and completed our project work. Bijaya was among the demonstration and explanations team group in that said exhibition held at Johnstone Higher Secondary School. Our school got first prize in the exhibition; Bijaya was among the selected group to attend the exhibition at the Calcutta. She had participated in March pass for the 26th January parade, our School, Little Flower School got first prize for three consecutive years. I did not participate because my father, N Benoy Singh had rightly pointed out to me that I could not tolerate the eve teasing of the people during the parade. She was very intelligent and participated in academic activities and I, Shadhana participated in games and sports. I got first prize in running race in spite of my big size. During prize distribution time, Don Bosco Father did not believe my 1st position and 2nd position holder was one of my friends who was very thin and lean person. I used to participate in throw ball and Kabaddi. The other opponent team refused to play whenever I had participated probably due to fear of my size. After 10th standard we went to different places to continue our studies.
Bijaya loved promoting young talented girl child, as being in the All India Radio, she happened to identify frequently talented child artistes at the station. She shared to us that we need to promote a young girl whose voice was very melodious and popularly known as Baby Pushparani for audition at Bombay, Sa Re Ga Ma Little Champ. In the year, 1994, November, Bijaya put in Rs 30,000 from her pocket so that she and our friend Mandakini could take Baby Pushparani to Bombay to participate in the 1st audition. She accompanied her along with our friend Mandakini (Bhamori, Hindi teacher at ISKCON, Manipur) who had taken Rs 20,000 from her saving and arranged for staying, lodging and fooding at Bombay, ISKCON temple; all free of cost and they stayed there for 10 days.
Ajit Das helped all the four members from Manipur namely Bijaya Yumlembam, Mandakini (Bhamori), Pushparani and her father to stay at Bombay ISKCON Temple, Juhu free of cost for almost everything for promoting Baby Pushparani the daughter of our soil. For the first audition, they travelled by the train up to Bombay, it was a big success. We selected songs for Pushparani collectively; Echema Kamala also took keen interest for her too.
When they came back, we all decided to arrange for the second audition, to fly to Bombay, in order to meet the requirements we planned to organise charity show for the second audition and her education as well. We even approached Manipur Governor ON Shrivastav for Baby Pushparani’s admission to Kendra Vidyalaya School. Bijaya and myself, Shadhana Ningthoujam were members of Kargil Trust also. There was this norm that the first priority for admission in KV/central school was given to intending candidate whose parents or guardian is a Central employee. Echema Ch Kamala who was a Central service employee agreed to support Pushparani as a guardian for admission in Kendra Vidyalaya School; so she stayed at echema Kamala’s place for her education to continue there and we were all very happy when she started attending classes in the Central school. Thus Pushparani picked up Hindi language very remarkably and was able to communicate in Hindi reasonably well in a short span of time. In the year 1995, April, Pushparani had gone to Bombay for the second audition and she did very well too. We were very proud of our lovely talented daughter of Manipur.
The Blind School Teachers Association approached us to support Sunita Nepram and they believed that whoever, we (Bijaya, Bhamori and Sadhana) have supported the persons in any field always succeeded in their venture. So we helped them in organising the charity show for Sunita Nepram at Gandhi Memorial Hall. Sunita did very well in ‘Sa Re Ga Ma’ audition. We have many shining stars of our motherland. Likewise it is worth mentioning the young shining folk singer stars like Manka Mayenglambam and Thokchom Lansana Chanu have participated at Sri Lanka and Beijing to represent India. Their careers have zoomed and they became renowned singers and stood distinctly in the society, because of their talent with of course dedicated support of philanthropic people like Bijaya and us.
We used to help underprivileged youngsters, in our capabilities, I Sadhana financially supported the operation of a young fellow who was limping with a muscle atrophy case. He was cured after a prolonged illness due to some complication of his wound healing; now he is alright with the help of physiotherapy and medications. We enjoyed doing all sort of activity to help but sometimes we landed in trouble and we took risks very often too. Once Bijaya’s father Mr Y Brajamani told us ”Sadhana don’t risk your reputation in such charity where the recipient does not understand the value of your contribution”.
At the time of cease fire incident of 18th June 2001, we volunteered in helping the injured patients in the RIMS hospital. We collected all the clothes from homes and distributed to the people who were fully drenched in rain inside the RIMS Casualty. I had given my shawl to Mr Biren on the stretcher who have been operated under orthopaedic surgeon and later on succumbed to internal injuries inside the intestine. I sought permission from the RIMS Superintendent Professor Ahanthem Dwijamani to volunteer in stitching the injured patients; the casualty was overcrowded, my friend Bhamori controlled the crowd and Bijaya was helping the ambulance services outside to send the patients or others out or receiving and directing the routes in the ambulance services. I was lucky that day because it was my night off day; I could provide my helping hands for the cause of our motherland. I have started stitching one by one in the casualty. After then I did a quick round in the casualty beds and I found a very young beautiful lady with IV drip on, bandage applied over her head, her blood pressure was very low and she was pale too.
(To be contd)