September 7th, 2011
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Irom Sharmila prey to cupids arrow

Imphal: Irom Chanu Sharmila, the  world’s longest hunger-striker, the Iron Lady of Manipur has fallen prey to cupids arrow. Irom says she is in love with Desmond Coutinho, a 48-year-old writer and activist who she met in March this year after a year-long exchange of handwritten letters that Sharmila carefully keeps in a cardboard box by her bedside.

He has gifted her a wall-hanging and a tablecloth printed with the images of Radha and Krishna. Desmond seems to almost revere Sharmila. “I am like Yoko Ono. Or Gandhiji’s wife. I will enable her to do her thing, which is give witness to the oppressed. I am marrying a mahatma and I have a rough idea that it’s not going to be an easy-going life,” he had blogged on  on February 7.

Irom is but heartbroken as her supporters who do not approve of their relation are against her marrying the man of her dreams. “The man I love is waiting for me impatiently. He came here to meet me but my supporters refused that idea,” Sharmila, who is force-fed by the government through a nose tube, said from her bed in Imphal’s J.N. Hospital. Her supporters find it hard to come to terms with the sudden and unexpected romance.“He is of Goan origin but a British citizen. That is why they are against the relationship,” Sharmila said.

She added that she wished her relatives and supporters did not see her as a superhero. She said she was just a human being like any other. They have met once, in March this year. Desmond had arrived in Imphal in February but Sharmila’s supporters did not permit them to meet initially. Ironically, it was a two-day protest fast by Desmond that clinched it.

“(At first) they insulted him and threatened him,” Sharmila said. “It was a stormy night. He was sitting near the meira shang (women’s shelter) where the meira paibis (women activists) gather. They were hard-hearted.”

The couple met on March 9 at a court, just before she was released for a brief period. Sharmila requested the judge to provide him with security. Had it not been for the security, “Desmond could have been beaten to death”, Sharmila said.“They don’t like to appreciate our relationship. They are also very possessive, very mean, very one-sided,” she added without a trace of bitterness in her tone.

Desmond is in Thailand, meditating right now. The couple intend to get married after Irom Sharmilas decade long demands are met. “Without any shame, like a couple of birds, no permanent food but so free, so lovely,” she sung a poem from the heart a lover.




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