Chipemmi Shangh loves listening to music and likes Don Williams and gospel songs. He was a well-recognized student while at the Holy Spirit School; one of the oldest schools in Ukhrul, established in the year 1976 in a village called Longpi which is widely known for its black pottery, locally known as Longpi Ham.
He would not miss performing in any school functions. He was the school stand-up comedian.
Chipemmi was born in Shirui village as the fourth child among seven and right after his Bachelors in Political Science, he worked in few places including Retail, to support his younger siblings. Between odds and jobs, he also completed his Masters in Social Work in 2010 and worked in the NGO sector for some time.
In 2013, he was running in and out of hospitals undergoing several tests and later, found to have severely damaged kidneys. The family was deeply troubled. His younger brother, Thotreishang, only asked ‘what can be done to save him?’ Chipemmi told himself he will fight the sickness and win too. He prayed for God to keep him.
In 2014, Chipemmi underwent a kidney transplant and Thotreishang was the donor. He regained normal life and even enrolled for a Ph.D. in Jamia Millia Islamia University. Attending classes for him was refreshing. His research on school dropouts among the tribals took him to the hills and homes in Ukhrul and Churachandpur. He was to return to the same for the last leg of his research but developed complications few weeks before the lockdown, and is now on dialysis every alternate day.
Recently, he was admitted to Holy Family Hospital in Delhi following a fever and persistent sickness. He tested positive for COVID-19. Given his existing kidney condition, his family was anxious. They were calling and consulting people in organizing resources, taking decisions, and accessing immediate hospital care for Chipemmi. When we called him he said ‘I don’t know why I am kept all alone’ and it pierced our hearts. He said he was physically so exhausted that it even weakened him spiritually. He was not told about his COVID status and no visitors were allowed, not even family. Collectives and churches who knew his story prayed for him. After 10 days of treatment at the Hospital, Chipemmi recovered despite the odds.
He says ‘life and death is not in our hands’ and encourages us to take precaution during this pandemic but not to be afraid as fear does not help.
When asked what was his dream when he was young, he said he did not have big dreams and aspirations because his family struggled a lot to even support their schooling.
His name, Chipemmi, is a blessing from his parents. It means ‘to fill up’ and today his life and his story seem to be filling the emptiness and the gap in our lives as we struggle with a pandemic, a new world order, a new form of relationship that is mostly online and a new way of life.
His story seems to be asking us all to look at the world, our lives, and priorities in a new perspective. Today, he is an inspiration; of grit and faith as the world long for stories of Hope anywhere.
Tungshang Ningreichon is a mother of three. She is from Ukhrul and lives in Delhi. She walks with the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights and writes occasionally for the love of history, stories, and memories.
(First published in MorungExpress)