Monday, 30 June 2014

Sanatombi - A Princess Like No Other

I come from a small state called Manipur surrounded by lush green hills...all the more reason why whenever I see hills, reminds me of home. My mother tongue is Manipuri which I speak fluently although my writing and reading skills have considerably slowed as I have disengaged myself from writing and reading except going through headlines of local newspapers. Now that I stay a thousand miles away from home, I feel all the more reason to upgrade myself on all that information which I have ignored for so long.

In an attempt to explore my Manipur, I recently started digging up literatures related to Manipur and my best friend knowing my fixation, gifted me a book which I have wanted to read for so long “Bor Saheb Ongi Sanatombi” – the story of a Manipuri princess who fell in love with a British political agent in the British era written by renown author M. K. Binodini. 

Its the first time I have read a Manipuri novel. I have heard a lot about this book. Although I struggled to read at the very onset, I gradually gained pace as I got hold of the plots and characters. I could imagine the princely state of Manipur in all its glory as described by the author and its gradual descend as she lost her independence in the hands of the mighty English army. 

“Sanatombi” was a princess who chose to live life in her own terms, who had the courage to question every unfair rule imposed on her unlike other princesses who consented every word of the king; a princess who demanded equal rights like her brother and remained unconvinced that being a girl, she ought to live her life in a way dictated by the society. Perhaps her defiant nature made her special, worthy of a story that will stand the sands of times and cherished by generations to come. The story of a princess who believed that love is more about sacrifice and not merely just about getting married, a love which spontaneously redefined every form of relationship she had. A princess torn apart between her love for her country and her love for this man who had come to conquer her land, a man who was apparently her enemy but who had made her understand love like no one else had.

Even today, Manipuri society is an orthodox patriarchal society and till date a married woman have no right to fall in love again. Even if a woman lost her husband at a young age or if she got separated from her husband, she has to severe all ties with men that will fulfil her physical and emotional needs for fear of her character and modesty being questioned by the society.

Imagine the Manipur of those times, who made love impossible between a Brahmin and a non-Brahmin, a royalty and a commoner and yet even under these threatening conditions, love did happened and love bore the pangs of separation and embraced death silently. Sanatombi saw it all and marvelled these mystical forms of love that made her Maisna decide never to marry again after she realised that her beloved had died. Even after her first marriage, Sanatombi failed to feel such consuming and unfathomable love. Thus, when a married woman like Sanatombi fell in love with a “foreigner”...the speculations and inhibitions she felt was only intelligible. And it was a love she never felt before...a love that brought forth her best and worst times.

Since childhood, Sanatombi was a little rebel and stood against prejudiced rules.  May be this was the reason why her defiant self let her hair down and felt the winds in her hair as she rode her horse proudly alongside her beloved dressed in man’s attire unlike married woman of those times who are supposed to tie their hair in a bun let alone dress like a man. And sure, no one ever looked as beautiful and enticing as her. Such was the charm and solemnity of this princess!!

A few months after her beloved left her with a promise to return for her again, she fell sick and could never really fight back to be herself again. As her frail body lie on her death bed, her mind filled with a thousand memories, in a state of trance, she could constantly hear the faint sound of horse galloping away...sound of her beloved fading away, her life, every step leaving her behind.....just like her father became a blur memory, just like her brother galloped away. And thus, she rested in the protective arms and undying love of her “Sanakhyamashi”. 

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I have heard so much about this book and in an instant, I agreed to all that has ever been written about this book. I have always felt a sense of emptiness after reading a good book. Sanatombi and her love will forever haunt my mind.

Read it to know your roots and history.

Read it to understand love in a better way.

Read it to realise that it takes someone who stood odds to create a fascinating story. 


16 comments:

  1. i cant wait to read this book che!!! :)

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    1. It is a must read...You will love it :)

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  2. Lately I read "Laman"... A nice story, though a full of tragedies. But a happy ending.

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    1. Now, that is ON my reading list now :)

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  3. Nice read. Though hvnt read, yet I knw it's a nice book :) Instantly, the song "Surrender" came to my mind if sm1 mentions about this book! A nice song with poignant lyrics

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    1. I love that song...the lyrics says it all...the pain in her heart and the sacrifice she made.

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    2. correct me if i'm wrong..but did i see your pic along with the PhD thing in local newspaper ? hehe...if it's true, the a huge conrats!!! Cheers :)

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    3. Hahaha...thats me!! Thank you :)

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  4. Ashangba Nongjabee, Nungairakta chandramukhi aseesu paradi MK.Binodini gee khuteeda soidana ngaoneee. atei kharasu pahanningee. Pachagi Na Tathiba Ahal ama haireebasisu Tasengna yam phajaba novelni. anoubada Dr. Jodha C.Sanasamgi '' Mathou Knba DNA" novel sisu paba yaba novelni. Valentina na eramdmbu henna khngningbagi eehul ama phaobibagidmk thagatchari.

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    1. Thank you Amarjit!! I will try to read these novels you suggested for sure....Thank a lot!! :)

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  5. I have read this book long back. You have improvised and narrated the entire story so precisely with few words that I have now started remembering very episode I read in that book.

    As I told you earlier, I just love to read the articles in your blog. I just love the way you express things, the way you make the things alive....so beautiful... Please keep doing that and do not stop...

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    1. Thank you Da Jayenta!! I have been having a crappy day so far...your message cheered me up. Thank you :)

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  6. Seems a creepy emotional story that jack up your tears!!!

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    1. Well, I would not say "creepy"!! Its a masterpiece

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  7. ...keep it up first for having this bog! ok, i agreed and all folk accepted that (L) MK Binodini had an artistic brain and hand. In spite of that, if we look back again and rewind our past and recollect the untold folklore of (their) the then maharaj's progenitors, we will find thousand of flaws, our Manipur had gained nothing form their hands except lost, on the other-hand, The British government was the first responsible (their interference in the politico issues) for the lost of resourceful Kabaw valley (7,000 square miles), during the merger agreement with India, again, if our then maharaj (RK/MK) were bold and love of mother soil, we could restored kabaw valley, not only this the interference of British led the disintegration of hilly people and valley (the hilly tribe "TANGKHUL" were our own blood brother, when the then kangleipak was created), if we look back again, we had lost everything, we had lost our identity and origin also, when maharaj pamheiba (18th century) transformed the entire "the sanamahism to ramandi cult", again during the reign of king bhagyachandra in 19th century, the krisna cult was introduced, he fabricated the meaningful LEISEM JAGOI of meetei into HYBRIDIZED RAASLILA, from this event, our traditional "POTLOI" gave birth to manipur, potloi is literally an unholy word, to unveil the secret of bhagyachadra maharaj, he had an illicit relation with his own daughter, thus he paid the price of his sin, his daughter became conceived, thus, internally POTLOI and story of pregnancy were correlated, he falsified the pregnancy image (internally the potloi was introduced to cover the truth of pregnancy while performing RAAS LILA, in the courtyard of maharaj by the then daughter of bhagyachandra-what an unholy act it was!). from the introduction of hindusm by the maharaja/rajkumar (MK/RK) of manipur, the fruit of caste-ism blossomed, thus untouchability and bias culture between bamon and meetei evolved, but the truth is that bamon and meetei are closely related, during, the reign of king kyamba 16th century, the immigration of refugee (now bamon) from the west came to manipur, then the maharaj gifted out the meetei chanu to them, from theses bammon sagei gave birth, so, why we called them THOURANI (according to bamon khunthoklon book), because during that time the meetei chanu came out boldly (thouna phana chongthorakii haibagidamak) to hybridize with brahmin. but why still bamon have no idea about their origin, why they have still orthodox culture of untouchability concept with meetei. the truth is that, the bamon of manipur are not pure brahmin. if we asked our-self, whether we are pure hindu or gaura, that also not true 100 cent, we are totally confused and hybrid culture, so, they (blood of RK/MK) had created many chaos and fabricated our history (Ceitharol kumbaba, also totally wrong and fabricated, there were many mismatching of events, say 33 AD of king pakhanga was totally wrong, according to scholar, it was happened long before BC) mentioned by the author, thus misguiding the future generation ). anyway, keep reading....what a wonderful blog i have found!

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    1. Thank you Jinus for your spectacular insights!! I learned a lot about our history from your comment...What I believe is that as long as we have resourceful people like you our struggles and history will always be treasured!! Wherever life takes us, let us not forsake our roots...!!

      Thanks for drooping by!! :)

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