Going through my old folders i came across this photograph that i had taken some years back. I remember how i almost ran out of batteries trying to click this beautiful butterfly. it fluttered around the ixora bush never sitting on them for more than a few seconds, probably finding them lacking or perhaps it was just restless.
The photograph was taken at the Indian National Army memorial museum at Moirang in Manipur. The memorial is a tribute to the INA’s march under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose.
What the world remembers as the second World War or India remembers as the INA entry through Japanese cooperation, in the local Manipuri lores it figures as ‘Japan Lan‘ (a war that involved the Japanese). There are many anecdotes about this war and its aftermath that people of our generation heard through our grandparents – stories that are typically beyond the pale of state-sponsored museum projects.
The plaque at the museum’s entrance reminds us of the brave patriots of the Indian nation and their perseverance in hoisting the tricolour for the first time in the soil of India. In 1944, the soil on which it was hoisted would have been presumably British India. While the museum is thus re-written in a more recent context, there is also a fact that it stands on Moirang Kangla – a location of special importance to the people of Moirang. The opening in front of the museum where a visitor may freely park their vehicles is perhaps the most crowded place in Moirang when the Lai Haraoba of the Moirang Thangjing observes its annual outing.
I had visited this museum as a child and it was my second visit. The one striking change was the presence of a security check-point inside the premises of the museum. Some personnel in Khaki uniform stood with guns in the cubicle of sand-bags watching us as we entered the gates feeling like we were not supposed to be there.
As i spied this lovely black butterfly to click it in the backdrop of the ixora blossoms, i was aware of being watched by men with another sort of device for a different kind of ‘shooting’.
life under shadow of guns!!