New Tusom: A Model Border Village in Ukhrul has Reminded of GRATITUDE.
At first, I thought of writing my individual experience throughout the pandemic. However, as I sat down to write, all I could think of was the collective effort of the people involved in bringing us back HOME. A Home, I can barely call one due to my lack of contribution towards its welfare. A home, many of us have left and had never bothered to look back and see how it has been. On the one hand, I am full of regret and on the other, I am filled with gratitude. Their act amidst pandemic is nothing short of heroism. Instead of our (returnees) “don’t care” attitude all these years, they have risen above everything and have helped us. Therefore my village has been nothing short of a model village, a model worth learning and emulation and a subtle reminder of GRATEFULNESS.
Quarantine Centre at New Tusom Village
Long story short. I was in the capital, studying Law (still pursuing) when WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic followed by the announcement of nationwide lockdown by our honourable PM. Initially, everyone was in a panic mode though it got subsided gradually with more information available at hand. As time went on, lockdown after lockdown, Prime Minister announced “Life and Living”: meaning, we have to live with Coronavirus, it is here to stay. Though I somehow beg to differ at that point, I realized that I was wrong and our visionary PM is right. And gradually, things started to open up. At first, vehicular movement, then rail (Special Shramik train) for migrant workers, then the commencement of flight operation and that is when I decided to go back home.
Lo and Behold
As the pitch of “going back home” gain momentum, my villagers got into the mode of famous Bollywood movie “Airlift” starring Akshay Kumar. And this is how it all started. Traditionally, like many villages in Manipur, my village is also not an alien to any dispute within the hierarchy of decision-making body (Chairman and Headman body). But not this time, this time the leadership knew that they have to rise above any kind of worst politics that human race can afford. They knew that virus doesn’t care whether you are rich or poor, good or bad, Chairman or Headman, BJP or Congress. It can infect anyone.
Tusom Covid 19 committee
At first, they called a meeting, set up a team (Covid-19 Coordination Committee) after brainstorming and a prolonged discussion. They divided the work among themselves. They asked for suggestions and input from the experts. They draft out the action plan. Step by step. They identified two places for the returnees to be quarantined. Cleaned and equipped them. They also included the village youths for volunteering the returnees. It was indeed a collective effort. I didn’t hear any rumours of division of opinions. They got in touch with the ADC, MLA and the district administration. They too assured them of their cooperation.
Meanwhile, a few hiccups. First, they faced financial hardship, they asked and many came forward to help without expecting anything in return. Right from a mere cultivator to ADC to MLA, all extended their helping hand. Second, with the stigma attached to the pandemic, they literally had to spread awareness on the virus among the villagers. Third, educating the volunteers and equipping them. Fourth, the transport, which the chairman of the committee took upon himself to ferry every returnee from the District. They laid down the guidelines to be followed by every returnee and the citizens as well. They made sure that the guidelines reached every household in the village.
Youth volunteers in action at border gate of New Tusom blocking the village entry gate during the lockdown.
I was among the second batch from my village to return. I remember reaching the Quarantine Centre at midnight. A room was well equipped with the essentials required per person for a month. I got to eat home-cooked food after a long time. My mom, dad and my uncle were there. They prayed aloud for me from distance maintaining the protocol. I humbled myself before them. I had a great sleep after a long journey. The next morning, I woke up to the prayer and short sermon by my village pastor with all the returnees. I had never felt more blessed I said to myself.
Then it went like this, every few days our families, relatives and villagers would come and deliver fresh veggies to the youth volunteers and they, in turn, would deliver to us taking all the precautionary measures. Every now and then, families and committees would call and ask for our well-being. Most of us were overwhelmed by the mental support. They empathize with us. Every passerby, from a distance, would shout a very effective and positive message “We are all in this together, we shall overcome this too”. I felt the divine power in motion.
Till the very last day, no stone was left unturned to take utmost precautionary measures, strictly following the guidelines laid down by the Committee. When I look back to contemplate and analyze on those 30 days at the Quarantine Centre, I am always reminded of love, support and gratitude. As I introspect more and more I am assured of all the returnees emerging as a better person. Indeed someone rightly said, “The worst brings out the best from us”. And theirs? Their journey goes on. They will never stop. The next batch will be coming soon.
These are Theys
Our families, relatives, friends, village committee, youth volunteers, villagers, ADC, MLA, District administration, Manipur government and last but not the least THE ALMIGHTY GOD, because of all of them I can proudly claim that “My village is nothing short of a Model Village and affirm reminder of HUMANITY”
“WE SHALL OVERCOME SOMEDAY”