Root and being are inextricably linked. What are roots but another name for home, for the ultimate destination that one leaves only to return? And what is rootlessness but another state of homelessness, exile and prolonged yearning? These coterminous conditions can also spawn zealous, self-proclaimed protectors and a corresponding number of homeless ‘strangers’. Cultural movement is to roots what migration is to rootlessness. Or is it that simple? If we consider roots as also having to do with (shared) values, how do we draw the line between claims for indigenous rights and the ethical necessity of acknowledging contemporary tragedies surrounding the gentrification of spaces and identity?
Lamjel (Race). Thangjam Ibopishak. Imphal: Irungbam Publications, 2015.
Thangjam Ibopishak’s latest collection of poems is primarily about his evolving as a poet. Forty six years after his arrival in the Manipuri poetry scene, Lamjel (Race) delves into the link between poet, poetry and its journey. This link, as a defining theme of his eleventh book (written between 2012-2015), unfolds in the form of odes to people who have shaped his artistic sensitivity, through the metaphor of sailing, and not insignificantly, the looming spectre of death. Other themes include his worship of nature mainly inspired by a sense of atheism, and the frank appreciation of the female form.