A fortnight after being granted bail, activist Irom Sharmila is on her way from hospital to “a yoga [and] meditation centre.”
Putting speculation to rest, Ms. Sharmila said in an e-mail interview to The Hindu that she found a place in the Langol foothills in Imphal and would shift there on Friday. “It is a nature cure centre, not a hospital as such,” she said.
“One can enrol and follow the routine set by the centre. But I am going to stay as an independent person, following my own routine. It will be for the first time that I will be stepping outside as a free person,” she said.
Ms. Sharmila, however, refused to accept that the residents of Imphal were not too keen on accommodating her for reasons related to the State’s politics.
Fight against AFSPA
“There are lots of offers and requests [to host her] but I do not want to oblige anyone. I plan to visit other districts in my State in continuation of my struggle, to hold dialogues and understand issues better. After that, I will be moving to my own space where I shall be interacting with people in the pursuit of our common goal against AFSPA [Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act] and for justice, peace and understanding,” the 44-year-old said.
Ms. Sharmila withdrew her 16-year-long fast on August 9 and is expected to go on a tour to address public meetings in north, central and west India against imposition of the AFSPA. She said that rather than isolating her, the Manipur society had in fact welcomed her decision to withdraw the fast, and thus she was having “the busiest days” of her life. “I have been having interactions with young people every day in the hospital, five-seven in one time.. I am learning so much about what is happening, their angst for change, and, I see a hope that has strengthened my resolve,” she said.
Back to normal diet
“I have been deprived of this for the past nearly 16 years and it is overwhelming to be a part of this change that we all yearn for. The distance between me and the society is now clearing,” the 44-year-old said, adding that she is fast returning to a normal diet. “I am a vegetarian and do not take milk. I am enjoying all the food that Manipur offers, from fruits to vegetables. My supporters are taking turns to bring me home-made food and fruits from their gardens. I also take oats and cornflakes.”
Asked if she has managed to communicate with her Goa-born British boyfriend Desmond Coutinho, Ms. Sharmila said he wrote to her on July 18, which she received on August 10.