Poetry

Memoirs of Manipur

I acquired his drawings at the group exhibition

in New Delhi

in 1988.

                                                 

I met the artist at the gallery,

and

conversed with him asking

where he originally came from,

because

he looked Japanese,

not

a typical Indian.

                                   

He answered

he was from Manipur.

                                    

Manipur, which borders Myanmar, has

the city of Imphal

—known as the Battle of Imphal in English—

as its capital.

                                    

Yes,

it is the only Indian state where

the Japanese soldiers invaded

and

were beaten by the British army under the Second World War.

                                    

That’s why

I do not forget him

till now.

                                    

Recently,

I read the article on the Battle of Manila,

That reminded me of the Battle of Imphal.

                                    

Both battles resulted in the disastrous damage

and

huge suffering of many local residents,

caused

by the Japanese soldiers.

                                   

But

the situations were very different

as the warfare.

                                    

Manila was once dominated by Japanese army,

although for a few years,

and then,

the US forces came back to defeat Japan in Manila, that triggered

the Battle of Manila.

                                    

On the other hand,

Manipur was a princely state under the rule of British India

when Japanese army invaded it.

That’s why

the Battle of Imphal

is named as

“the Japan Laan”,

which means

the Japanese Invasion

in Meitei,

the state language of Manipur.

                                   

While leaving the gallery,

I asked if I could visit him someday,

and

he replied, “You are welcome,”

but

I haven’t fulfilled my wish so far.

                                   

I still dream of the day.

                                          

~Mayumi Yamamoto

Kyoto, Japan

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