As it is, as much as the Von Trapp family loathed the prospect of war and sought to escape from the looming dark clouds of the Nazi war propaganda, it would not be far from the truth to say that nobody in Moreh, Churachandpur, Torbung or Kadangband would have thought they will live to see the day when they had to run for their lives, leaving behind their homes burning
By Salam Rajesh
For many movie lovers, the Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer-starred classic movie The Sound of Music may perhaps be seen simply as an enduring music-based tragi-romantic film based on those days just before the global aggression by Nazi Germany under the belting thumb of the dictator Adolf Hitler.
The 1965 movie is based in Austria, which was the first nation to come under the influence of the Nazi doctrine and the emerging political power of a dictator whose one ambition was to impose the ‘virtue’ and control of the ‘pure’ Aryan race domination all across the globe. The elimination of any form of opposition to his plans, and the cleansing of the ‘impure blood’ of the Jews, was foremost to his sinister design to lord over the world.
The central theme of the movie reflects very closely to Ernest Hemingway’s classic novel Farewell to Arms and Leo Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace, both of which shun violence and the horrors of war and where the protagonists seek peace far away from the darkness of power politics and the looming wars.
For many in present-day Manipur, and perhaps equally true as in strife-torn Myanmar, Ukraine, and Palestine for instance, the relevance of the movie and these novels must truly be stronger with each passing day. The horrors of war and ethnic strife are all true for Manipur, Myanmar, Ukraine and Palestine in these trying times.
The rubbles of war — the charred and burned-down houses and the completely ravaged properties — in Moreh, Torbung, Phougakchao Ikhai and many locations in Manipur can be comparatively viewed with the desolate scenes in Ukraine’s capital city Kiev or the tear and waste in Gaza City in the backdrop of the armed aggressions by the external forces.
Nobody would want war in their doorsteps, and having to see their families and immediate community torn apart by the ravages of the armed conflicts. The tears and cries are all too real to ignore, and thousands have been entirely displaced in all of these scenes of armed conflicts, whether in Manipur, Ukraine, Palestine, Sudan, Myanmar or Afghanistan. It is the same everywhere — the tale of woe, despair and cries.
The protagonist in Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms is a wartime ambulance driver and he seeks to escape with his lover to a neutral country that is not involved in war, an urge to escape from the cruelty and hatred of war to live in peace elsewhere. That exactly would be the inner call for many in the strife-torn pockets of Manipur and in Gaza City.
The Von Trapp family in the movie The Sound of Music lives in a music-filled world, which is far removed from the looming reality of Hitler’s larger agenda of world domination through armed aggression. The family’s happy world is rudely shaken when the Nazi doctrine pursued them aggressively, with the design to enlist the retired captain Von Trapp in Germany’s war machinery.
The enfolding drama where the Von Trapp family devises plans to escape from the Nazi’s reach and seek refuge in a neutral country follows a similar storyline with the protagonist in Hemingway’s novel. The central theme is the hatred of war and to live in a world full of peace and love. The story in Farewell to Arms ends in tragedy while the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music escapes happily to a world far removed from the horrors of war.
The painful cries of the mothers and sisters of those killed in Manipur’s internal strife reflect on the cruelty of wartime hatred and bring to mind the hate speech of Adolf Hitler where he decries the ‘impurity’ of the Jews and the call to annihilate every Jew from this mortal world. The extremity of his hate speech saw the discrimination of millions of Jews in countries occupied by the Nazis and hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered in gas chambers, concentration camps, and burned alive inside houses and prayer houses.
The meaningless armed aggression of Kuki militias in the name of ‘protecting’ their ‘sovereignty’ in Manipur is nothing less than the genocide of the Rohingyas in Myanmar by the military Junta, citing a similar reason as the Nazis as that of the Rohingya population in Myanmar as of ‘impure’ blood. Village after village was reduced to ash and hundreds of thousands fled to Bangladesh, to escape the ravages of war and the hate doctrine of the Junta.
The phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ was used too many times by the Kuki frontal organizations in accusing Meitei ‘village volunteer’ fighters, wherewith the same terminology could be transmitted to them by the manner of the extensive campaign on complete annihilation of Meitei enclaves in those areas close to landscapes dominated by the Chin-Kuki community. The desolate village scenes in Churachandpur and Moreh areas amply demonstrate the sinister design of the Kuki campaign for complete area domination.
The border town of Moreh in Manipur’s far-flung international border with Myanmar has always been at the epicenter of power struggle amongst the different ethnicities settled there. Armed non-state actors had in the past and the present exercised their ‘prowess’ in either stalling the expansion of the Moreh settlements unless it suited to their design of ‘area domination’ or to caution other ethnicities not to violate their ‘area domination’, either way heading towards a single community’s domination over the entire Moreh economic corridor.
As it is, as much as the Von Trapp family loathed the prospect of war and sought to escape from the looming dark clouds of the Nazi war propaganda, it would not be far from the truth to say that nobody in Moreh, Churachandpur, Torbung or Kadangband would have thought they will live to see the day when they had to run for their lives, leaving behind their homes burning. The tragedy of war and internal strife had caught up with hundreds of families on either sides, darkening their lives and perhaps wishing for an escape to neutral grounds – wherever it may be.