When I was a little boy, I once went cycling towards Koirengei in Imphal. And as I crossed the area and went further towards Sekmai, I got scared. I thought I was almost reaching Nagaland. It would be dangerous for me in a foreign land, I thought. So, in an instant act of sheer wisdom, I quickly took a U turn and paddled back to Imphal, my hometown, where I would be safe forever.
I was born in Tangkhul Hundung, and raised in Moirangpan (now called Sopleng) and Imphal, Manipur. My dad passed away when I was about 11 years old. And I lost my mom in 2015. Like everyone else, I have also seen the hard side of life associated with pain, hurt and various other forms of struggle. Hence, my dream as a young college boy was to simply graduate and find a job to look after my family like a good eldest son. However, I wasn’t doing well as a student, never attending classes regularly and hardly studying and always securing 2nd division in high school and college. I kept playing the fool and in the end, I got fooled myself. The silver lining in this perhaps is that my passion to sing became overwhelming even while my grades were falling apart.
The biggest dream I dreamt, I think, was that of becoming a full-time musician. It didn’t just happen in the spur of a moment. It happened after a long journey of endless singing in churches and gatherings (voluntarily but happily), after always choosing the less trodden road (literally) so I could sing peacefully even while walking. I said yes to this dream against all odds because the conviction was real and I was passionate. My family was not as enthusiastic about this dream as I was when I first told them. But it was only logical considering the absence of job opportunities for musicians those days, or so we thought.
But the biggest question at that time was, “Where am I going to get the financial help to study music?” To cut the long story short, God provided a scholarship for me through a group in the US, and I went to the Philippines to study music.
After three years, I graduated with a Master’s degree in Church Music majoring in Voice, and with distinction, a feat that would have only occurred in my dreams when I was in college. But as a music student, there was a paradigm shift in my attitude mainly because I was also pursuing my passion. For the first time in my life, I was honored with the Music Award and the 3rd Highest Academic Award among all the graduating Master’s students. It was unbelievable.
You see, I followed my passion even after knowing full well that I was not the best in this field. It was more of a response to my calling having the calm assurance that God would equip me and use me, even in my weakness, for his glory. I have been truly humbled by so many wonderful opportunities God has allowed me to be part of and enjoy thus far. From that little village boy who only lived in his village in the confines of hometown who barely travelled far, growing up to become a young man who has seen and travelled many parts of the world as a musician today, I think, I have come a long way.
However, there is never an end to learning. I felt the great need to go for further studies during the lockdown phase in 2020. I started praying and applying at a couple of colleges abroad. But eventually, I narrowed down to Torch Trinity Graduate University in Seoul, Korea and began to apply for scholarship. To cut it short again, when the final interview for admission came, one of the interviewers asked, “can you explain why your GPA in college is very low (just passing grade), and would you be able to handle the intensity of all the research work you’re going to do if granted admission?”
I replied that I was not interested in studies and it was never my priority. All I needed was a graduate degree so I could hunt for jobs. I also quickly added that if I set my heart to something, however, I would do well. I gave example of my studies in the Philippines. He smiled and nodded and said, “okay.”
Two weeks later, I received an email from the admissions office saying the committee has confirmed to grant me full scholarship in their university.
Few life lessons I have gathered and learnt:
- Do not be afraid to dream, even if that dream is against the cultural trend. Pray and leave the matter to God. He knows best and He cares best! When God gives you His peace, He gives you strength that can’t be described. Philippians 4: 4-7
- The Wait: Nobody likes to wait. The good thing though is that it is frustrating and confusing to the point that it helps you refine your focus.
Sometimes, you might have to take up different jobs or “lesser” responsibilities as you wait for your dream(s) to be fulfilled. Do it with all your heart. Remember this – faithfulness in small things leads to faithfulness in big things. Luke 16: 10-12 (Abridged)
- Relationship is vital. Make every effort to develop a good relationship with people around you. I believe that our life’s value is directly or indirectly related to people around us. We are created for relationship.
- Honesty is the best policy, even in a corrupted culture. Learn to be honest even in small things. Don’t believe in others when they make you feel you are a fool for not lying a little. They will make everything else but honesty sound logical. God hates a lying tongue (Proverbs 6).
- Finally, humility is the key to greatness. The Bible teaches us to be humble because “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
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I think humility is not so much about words, rather it is the attitude of the heart that translates into outward act of gratitude and kindness.
And now as I wait to move to Seoul for the next chapter of my life, I am eternally grateful to God for the opportunity. But the main reason for the real joy in my life is found in the fact that God made me new through his Son, Jesus Christ, and that my life is secure in his hands. I would like to echo C.S Lewis’s words by saying that I don’t really need to worry about success but rather to do what is right before God.
I have failed and made lots of mistakes, but I have learned to always come back to God and start afresh. When we learn to delight in the Lord first, He will give the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). God can lead and lift us to places and positions we could never have imagined or thought of. Let us always trust in his unfailing love.
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