• kewal sethi

meitei honour

this is a poem in two parts.

 but let me first explain about khongjam day. the british had established suzerainty over manipur but the people were not reconciled to them. in 1891, there was an attempt to throw out the yoke. it did not succeed but one incident stands out. the manipuri general paona brijbasi, with a handful of soldiers and less of ammunition sought to stop the english from marching on to the capital from the south. the day of his sacrifice is remembered as khongjam day. the first part is a tribute to his courage.


the second part is on different line. after the elections in year 1995, congress cam to power, never mind how, but there were two claimants kieshing ex CM who was a naga and a meitei (meitei - the palin people of manipur are in majority forming almost 70 % of the population). how the situation was resolved is described. the idiom chosen is the same as for the first part to show the contrast..


this period poem might have been enjoyed at that particular time by those who followed the game but still i am putting it here in the hope that it captures some of the state of affairs then.


so here are the poems.



Khongjom day

It was eighteen ninety one, honour of meitei is provoked

The people are mocked, a puppet wears the crown

Honour of kingdom is threatened, fools are promoted

The hero is shunned, ignominies are for the devoted

Never can this challenge be let go without resistance

No chance to call on friends and get any assistance

The British came as helpers, they are now the masters

Ambitions are thwarted, what can be greater disasters

The banner of revolt is raised, on with the fight

The Maharaja runs away to residency in fright

Yuvaraja becomes the raja, senapati the yuvraj

All is once again hunky dory in the meitei raj

The good times lasted a while, British got fright

How could they tolerate a challenge to their might

Chief Commissioner came to bring things under control

Arrest by deceit was considered to be the best way out

But the lion would not walk into the trap, being warned

They came  to the palace to seize him with force of arms

Adventure, however, turns into defeat and disaster

The officers are murdered, the soldiers are scattered

No doubt it is a shameful blow to the British rule

Some thing has to be done to avenge the ridicule

Columns march onto the capital from three sides

The heroes consider moves on how best to fight

While they are thinking, alien armies are on march

They are at the door, meitei could not send the arms

But still the flame of freedom burns tall and bright

Outnumbered, without arms, they keep up the fight

At Khongjom, Paona Brijbasi defends position with his life

He is cut down as are others in this one sided strife

The capital falls, raja and yuvraj are captured

They are hanged and Manipur is conquered

But Paona Brijbasi and his heroes live on for ever

No force could subdue them or their fervour

Every year we meet to remember their deeds and lives

Pay our homage at this sacred place of sacrifice.

Khongjam, April 23, 1995







Meitei honour

Another time, another battle, meitei honour is again provoked

An outsider has come and has laid claim to the throne,

Our right to rule is challenged, our number is mocked

Our existence is threatened, we are totally shocked

Never can this challenge be let go without resistance

There are no friends to call and get their assistance

Those who were the helpers now seek to be the masters

Ambitions are thwarted, what can be greater disasters

The banner of revolt is raised, on with the fight

Resignation is sent, daring them to accept it if they might

We shall not rest till we get what is our rightful right

Howsoever long we may have to continue the fight

The revolt lasted for a while, every one was afraid

Opponents will surely benefit if the situation escalates

Pilot, the trouble-shooter, came to control the game

In this wile game his was reputed to be the wilest name

Quickly he assuaged the feelings, doused the flames

And in meitei land things were once again the same

Honour was restored, defeated was the plot sinister

Food was added to finance as became Deputy Chief Minister

Once again full marks for the meitei honour

Long live the glory of this modern valour.

Imphal, April 30,1995

(This poem has to be read with the earlier on 'Khongjam Day'. In fact some of the lines are repeated, deliberately, to bring out the contast.


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