Hiyangei hosted a series of festivals and took leave with a promise to come back next year. Poinu barged in at the seasonal door. And like an old lady, it puts on a pomfee to stay warm in such a freezing weather. Mr. Winter is on full time duty for the next few months. Kobi thamchetmaanbi plays eta laakpi with hawai tharaak and hungaam thongba flirts with yongchaak singzu while hawai mubi puts on a jealous look. She is perhaps keen to dance with yongchaak in the kompaak to prepare a scrumptious eronba mathel. In Manipur, one can say that every season has a unique flavor. And this is one of the best parts of staying in Manipur.
This winter, Kumhei Lairembi seems to have showered her blessings on me. I consider myself lucky enough to have watched three different plays I have always wanted to watch. The first play that I watched was Thagatchari Mayambu Thagatchari about which I dedicated one of my earlier columns, the second one was Pebet and the third one was Nupilal. The amalgamated experience after watching these three plays is beyond any comparison.
Nupi Lal, one of the significant movements in the history of Manipur, has been immaculately presented in the form of a drama by Rupmahal theatre. Rupmahal stages ‘Nupilal’ as one of its observation plays on 12th December every year. I was astounded by the performance of the artists during the entire play. The play in deed made me envisage a glimpse of history from the prism of present. However, the final scene of the play almost broke my heart and made me tearful.
A brief take on the play
The play, in my opinion, reflects the age-old battle between the oppressors and the oppressed lots of our society. The rebellious Manipuri spirit is also quite evident from the various scenes in the play. It is also notable that the incorrigible attitude of matamgi Manipur’s security personnel seems more or less a transmitted disease from those ‘half-pant setpa sepoys’ of matamdugi Manipur.
From Yotkhok laan, Manipur’s first fight for freedom, to Maira Paibi movement, Manipuri women have come a long way to create history from time to time. The play glorifies the role of Manipuri women in our society. The play also provides a stern lesson that Manipuri women do not silently suffer injustice from any Tom, Dick or Harry. And history is the sole witness that they have a fearless spirit to revolt against the wrong doers like they did during the Nupi Lal. It is ironical that in a patriarchal society like ours women are not mere home makers. They do take an active role in any social or political matter.
By and by, I earnestly feel that observation plays like Nupilal should be presented to a larger audience on a bigger platform if at all we want to let the world know what happened in Manipur during the colonial era. I do feel that watching plays at the theatres should also be encouraged among the present as well as younger generation so that they do not feel a missing gap between matamdugi Manipur and matamgi Manipur.
The past was not in our control. What happened already happened and there is no such technology that can alter the events that happened in the past. But if we have a clear understanding of the ‘what, why and how’ of the past, we can probably alter or change things that may happen in the future.
Before concluding my column, I extend my heartiest gratitude to Rupmahal theatre for preserving the quintessence of a historical play like Nupilal which is a must watch for every Manipuri. I do look forward to watch many more plays in the theatre in the days/months to come.