A glimpse of “Yangna Paikhredako Punshi”
Shri (L) Moirangthem Gojendro Singh (1922-1993) had written a very short and sweet memoir “Yangna Paikhredako Punshi” in a poetic form consisting of 25 stanzas. In his centenary year and on Father’s Day 19 June 2022, his memoir was published and released by his sons, daughters, and grandchildren at Imphal. A lovely abridged autobiography was written in his own handwriting in a diary (Hindustan Boi) after his retirement, in bits and pieces. The memoir though laconic is full of information embedded in every line of each stanza.
Through careful reading, one can decipher a lot of memorable bygone memories from each sentence. For instance, in the 1920s the value of one paisa was quite appreciable; with one paisa one could buy 10 small catfishes and with one paisa one could get 2 ‘meruk’ of rice; a good quantity of popcorn could be purchased by a fraction of a paisa. The lady vendors of Khwairamband Keithel were using pinewood firesticks for illumination in the evening.
It was noted that the ‘Thong Nambonbi’ over the Nambul River was made of red bricks. Today’s generation may not know it. There was/is a masjid not far away from the ‘Thong Nambonbi’ – the prayer was audible.
He belonged to a very humble family. His mother took him almost daily when he was a small kid to the Bazar where she was selling “hiddak”. At the age of four, his father put him in a school. Surprisingly the medium of instruction in the school was Bengali. He completed Matriculation from Johnstone School.
Interestingly, he noted that whenever there was an inspection in the school, the school remained shut for the day after the inspection; students were happy because they got a day break- an undeclared holiday. Some teachers were harsh; they thrashed the student with bamboo sticks for late coming or for any kind of indiscipline.
In the diary the importance of the marigold flower is reflected; in every function, ritual or festival it was abundantly used. It was also indicated that every household planted marigold. Lilies and lotus were also quite popular. The notes also carry a memory of the 1930s & 1940s. Significance of ‘Mera Tha’, full of festivities - starting from ‘Hari Utthan’ was clearly jotted down. When he was about to be 20, he was recognized by the girls as a young man; he felt quite elated. The thrilling ‘Yaosang Thabal’ and ‘Likon Sanaba’ etc., were recorded with great enthusiasm.
It was Sunday, May 10, 1942 , he went to Bazaar Marwari Dharamasala, met his friend Joy – had a chat. Suddenly everyone looked up - Japanese bombers were flying, like a flight of butterflies with the sound of a bevy of bees. He took leave from his friend and back hurriedly to his house via Kasturi bridge. He saw men and women running for safety. Women were yelling “Japan Bomb Bomb”. He heard the sound of bombings in and around the town.
There was no college in Manipur before Japan Lan (Second World War). The first college , Dhanamanjuri College was established in 1946. Gojendro did his graduation in the DM college. He belonged to the first batch of the college. After graduation he went to Calcutta for further studies. There was no University in the region. They had to go to either Calcutta or Dacca for higher studies.
Gojendro was always among the toppers throughout his academic career even in Calcutta but we have no such record for his children. However his children are/were doing very well in their chosen fields. When he came back in 1953 after the completion of his master’s degree and LLB from Calcutta University , he was caught by Dijamani Dev Sharma, the then Education Advisor to the Government of Manipur. He was asked to join DM College immediately as a lecturer. Salary would be Rs 175 and Rs 50 as DA. Next day he joined the college.
Later he joined the Government Bureaucracy as Assistant Secretary. He served in many Departments of the Government of Manipur in various capacities. He served as General Manager MST, Director Industries, Secretary Manipur Legislative Assembly, and retired as Director Local Self Government and Urban Development.
Gojendro spent Rs 60 as ticket fare for flying by Bharat Airjet Dakota to Calcutta from Koirengei Aerodrome. He came back in 1953 from Calcutta again by Dakota, this time the price of the ticket was just 40 rupees. I was curious why it was 60 in 1950 and 40 in 1953. His children could not give me a satisfactory reply. The first flight was perhaps via Silchar and the return was direct from Calcutta.
Shri O. Joy, incorrigible Opposition leader (37 years in Manipur Legislative Assembly & 35 years in Opposition) and who is still in non-retirement mode, said on the day of the release of the memoir - “when Moirangthem Gojendro was the Assembly Secretary it was decided that the “Kangla Sha” should be installed in the State Assembly; I vividly remembered the day when it was actually installed as I was the then Deputy Speaker. It was a momentous moment and it should be part of History”.
Moirangthem Gojendro Singh did Masters in Political Science from Calcutta University and he was asked to teach Economics in DM College, in 1953 – the then Education Advisor to the Government of Manipur, Eigya Dijamani should be summoned for committing such an academic faux pas.