THOUDAM NETRAJIT SINGH,WINNER OF THIS YEAR’S SANSKRITI AWARD FOR LITERATURE
LIFE did not change for Thoudam Netrajit Singh from Manipur after he contracted the Parkinson disease at the age of eight. “I never stopped following my heart and writing about my experiences,’’ says Singh. “My poetry and short stories reflected my love for Manipur and emotional integrity of the people,” he adds.
Singh says that though he could not attend school after class III, after being affected by the disease, he had continued to read poems, stories and books. “I always feel that books have a connection to my soul. I was keen to study and appeared for the high school exam as a private candidate, three times. I finally cleared the exam in 1993. Life without challenge is no life at all,” he recounts.
After 18 years of prolonged illness, Singh gradually began to walk and write. “I began writing and walking bit by bit. I preferred writing in the evening. I could not write late at night,” he says remembering his early days as a writer. Interestingly all his books have been published during his illness. “My friends and family have always supported me. Because of my disease, I missed a lot of opportunities in life but I promised myself that I would be a writer and worked hard towards it”, shares Singh.
Though Singh began writing at a very young age he went professional only at the age of 20. When he began writing, most of his poems were self reflective and autobiographical in nature. In his words, “My poems were closely related to my personal experiences. I did not live a normal life and every moment was a challenge for me. Through my poems, I talked about my misery, struggle and challenges.”
As his literary inspirations Singh cites Munshi Premchand, Sarathchand Chattopadhyay and Yumlembam Ibomcha Singh, a Manipuri poet. His more recent poems and writings are largely based on the perception of his surroundings. “It pains me to look at the plight of Manipur today. Manipuris are sandwiched between trying to live a normal life and armed conflict. In the fifth collection of my poems titled, Lanthamsida (In this battlefield) 2006, my love and hope for India’s national integrity and peace is highlighted,” he informs.
Talking about what budding writers should keep in mind Singh says, “As a writer, I have always appreciated honesty.” To gain a better understanding of issues he advises youngsters to read world literature, theatre and be informed of the happenings in society. “It is only through hard work and persistency that one can achieve what one wants,” he sums.