Pacha Meetei

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Life sketch of PACHA

Pacha (Loitongbam Pacha Meitei) was born in January 1943 at Keishampat Thouda Bhabok Leikai, Imphal. His father was a goldsmith but earned barely enough to make both ends meet. The last of six children, Pacha was cynosure of the family. As a boy he was quite unruly and had an independent way of doing things. He started writing at an early age and seemed to have wild visions. Only his father knew that there was an extraordinary quality in his son. The story runs that his father, who was always quick to read his son's mind, bought him 'The Conquest of the Sky' and 'Panthoibi Khongun (an old Manipuri Romance)'. That was shortly before his father's death in 1953. The untimely demise of his father gave a great shock to young Pacha and his dreams of a pleasant future began to peter out slowly. His family became poorer. He appeared in the Matriculation Examination in 1962, did not succeed and never made a second attempt. He got married in 1965 and died in 1990 leaving behind five children.

Considering the short tenure of his life, one cannot but feel awed at the creative energy that had persisted in him till his last days. Till now eleven books have been published and over a score are still there in the form of manuscripts. A survey of these manuscripts will show that Pacha also excelled in the other forms of creative writing - poetry and drama, and almost all his novels sparkle, as it were, with instances of rare poetry. Pacha was a voracious reader rather for his poor academic qualification - his mind ever set for the new - the unknown. He said he admired Albert Camu, Huxly, Hamson, Yasser Kamal, Khalil Jibran and Virginia Woolf but admittedly denied their influence on him. He loved reading Blaise Pascal and Karl Jaspers. He loved journalism, contributed articles to various literary journals. He taught in a private school for some time in the early seventies and edited, about that time, a weekly called 'The Imphal Time'. That was for a brief period.

In spite of his popularity as a writer, Pacha led however, a ver strange life. He loved living among the people; he loved the society for its diversity. But in reality, he was a lone human being. He was often vexed at the way the society absorbed and repulsed him at the same time. He loved living; he loved life. But the 'life' he loved was only a vision. He became an addict to 'country liquor', which and 'chill penury' often drove him to desperation. He grew more and more estranged and behaved in a strange way till his friends and family later shunned him. 

Pacha's life was tragic. Only his works will tell what he was.

He is one of the most outstanding novelists in Manipuri. His published works are Hayad Begum (1967), Na Tathiba Ahal Ama (1969), Hajj (1971), Imphal Amasung Magi Esing Nungsitki Phibham (1972), Anouba Pao Ama (1973), Langoinai (drama, 1975), Lam Asida Eibu Khangba Amatangdi Thorakpa Phei (1975), Peegi Wari (1975), Thanil (1979), Kalimai Mamangda Laibak Katpasu Yaoee, Katabasu Yaoee (1991), Meeoibagi Wakat (1996), the last two posthumously published. Of his other works yet to be published, Ereipak Ereipak (Country, My country) is eagerly awaited. He received Sahitya Akademi Award in 1973 for his novel Imphal Amasung Magi Esing Nungsitki Phibham (Imphal and its climatic condition).

The novelette, Lam Asida Eibu Khangba Amatangdi Thorakpa Phei (Someone Who Knows Me Ought To Be Here), is one of Pacha’s masterpieces. The Sahitya Akademi, when it gave him the award in 1973, applauded the author’s ‘bold experimentation’ in depicting the deteriorating contemporary life. All his works are a series of continuous experiments. However, the marked change was seen with the publication of Na Tathiba Ahal Ama (An Old Man Who Is Hard Of Hearing) which and the subsequent novel Imphal And Its Climatic Condition  revealed  the  author’s skill in the exploitation of various modes of literary presentation. A further departure is still there in Anouba Pao Ama (A Fresh News), Kalimai Mamangda  Laibak Katpasu Yaoee, Katabasu Yaoee (Mother Kali! Some Bow Before Your Shrine And Some Do Not) and in Lam Asida Eibu Khangba Amatangdi Thorakpa Phei. In these later and shorter works the author primarily concentrates on language which, according to him, is the only technique. In painting human feelings and emotion his language is unique and almost inimitable. An atmosphere of sadness also pervades throughout his works, often crystalizing itself into rare poetry.

- Ng. Iboton Singh